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The role of meta-perceptions in customer complaining behavior

Dewi Tojib (Department of Marketing, Monash University, Caulfield East, VIC, Australia)
Saman Khajehzadeh (Department of Marketing, Monash University, Caulfield East, VIC, Australia)

European Journal of Marketing

ISSN: 0309-0566

Article publication date: 8 July 2014




This study aims to demonstrate that meta-perceptions play a contributing role in customers’ direct complaint intention.


In an exploratory study, we identified different types of meta-perceptions. In a scenario-based experiment, we tested the interaction effect of service failure attribution and the perceived service failure severity on meta-perceptions and direct complaint intention.


After experiencing service failure, customers amplify both positive and negative meta-perceptions. Depending on how customers attribute the service failure and perceive the magnitude of service failure, they evaluate these meta-perceptions differently which then determine their subsequent actions.

Research limitations/implications

The use of hypothetical scenarios may not capture the richness of an actual service encounter. The study is limited to two service failure contexts: cable TV connection and restaurant booking.

Practical implications

Service managers should design marketing strategies that can elevate customers’ positive social image associated with voicing complaints.


This study offers a new explanation, in that some customers do not engage in direct complaining behavior owing to meta-perceptions that they develop during service failure.



Tojib, D. and Khajehzadeh, S. (2014), "The role of meta-perceptions in customer complaining behavior", European Journal of Marketing, Vol. 48 No. 7/8, pp. 1536-1556.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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