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Sorry for your loss, now when will we be paid? Customer service after death of a customer

Elizabeth Taylor Quilliam (Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 1 August 2008




The purpose of this paper is to explore how retail organizations serve heirs attempting to settle estates, suggesting that companies providing minimal customer service risk driving away future business, while those companies that seek solutions to ease the estate settlement process can acquire new customer relationships from heirs and beneficiaries.


The paper provides examples of companies that adhere to strict rules, minimal service, or emphasis on cost reduction, comparing them to companies with more flexible and compassionate approaches to estate settlement.


An approach to customer service centered on meeting customer needs can enhance an organization's reputation. By contrast, those reliant on rigid policies risk losing long‐term business opportunities.

Practical implications

Companies can gain new customer relationships by improving the way they handle estate claims and provide service to executors, administrators, heirs, and beneficiaries. Financial services companies in particular stand to acquire new customer relationships from the forecasted large generational wealth transfer.


The paper provides guidance for improving customer service when settling estates, and argues that companies that do not seek positive ways to ease the difficulties in dealing with financial matters at death ignore the basic directives of a marketing perspective.



Taylor Quilliam, E. (2008), "Sorry for your loss, now when will we be paid? Customer service after death of a customer", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 25 No. 5, pp. 319-320.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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