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Is a critical incident critical for a customer relationship?

Bo Edvardsson (Bo Edvardsson is Professor, CTF Service Research Center, Karlstad University, Sweden.)
Tore Strandvik (Tore Strandvik is Professor, CERS Center for Relationship Marketing and Service Management, Hanken, Finland.)

Managing Service Quality: An International Journal

ISSN: 0960-4529

Article publication date: 1 April 2000



Focuses on the criticality of critical incidents in customer relationships. Aims to discuss the theoretical and practical implications of the notion of “critical” in a critical incident. Why is something perceived as critical? What does it lead to? Is criticality a feature built into the service or is it a contextually‐defined phenomenon, depending both on the customer, the service provider, the interaction and the surrounding relationship environment? Suggests a contextual framework for describing, analysing and understanding critical incidents, based on the idea that critical incidents are always embedded in customer relationships. Two interdependent context dimensions are used: the time dimension, and the situational dimension. These elements, combined, lead to a focus on customer‐perceived and relationship‐oriented contexts, which reveal new insights into the role of critical incidents. This framework is used in an empirical study concerning business customers’ perceptions of “critical incidents” in their relationship with a hotel. The findings indicate that the majority of positive and negative critical incidents reported had only a minor impact on customer behavior.



Edvardsson, B. and Strandvik, T. (2000), "Is a critical incident critical for a customer relationship?", Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, Vol. 10 No. 2, pp. 82-91.




Copyright © 2000, MCB UP Limited

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