The art of service recovery: fact or fiction?

Mary Ann Hocutt (Samford University, Birmingham, Alabama, USA)
Michael R. Bowers (Rollins College, Winter Park, Florida, USA)
D. Todd Donavan (Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA)

Journal of Services Marketing

ISSN: 0887-6045

Publication date: 1 April 2006



To determine the impact of service recovery on consumer evaluations of service delivery.


An experiment investigated consumer responses to three dimensions of perceived fairness of recovery efforts: redress, responsiveness, and empathy/courtesy.


Results revealed that higher levels of redress independently increase positive consumer responses. It was further found that the interaction of employee responsiveness and courtesy can also have a dramatic impact on consumer evaluations. Satisfaction was highest and negative word‐of‐mouth (WOM) intentions were lowest only under conditions of high responsiveness and courtesy. Additionally, an interaction between courtesy and tangible rewards significantly decreased the level of negative WOM.

Practical implications

The research offers empirical support for the “service recovery paradox” suggesting effective post‐recovery efforts may not only counteract bad service experiences, but may increase satisfaction beyond levels held before the service failure.


Key elements for the proper structuring of a service recovery process are identified for management.



Hocutt, M.A., Bowers, M.R. and Todd Donavan, D. (2006), "The art of service recovery: fact or fiction?", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 199-207.

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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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