Service delays are of significant concern to both consumers and companies – delays cost both groups billions of dollars and lead to consumer frustration and switching activity. Therefore, determining means of overcoming negative consumer reactions to delays is important, and the authors propose that anthropomorphic facial expressions could be one of those means. Thus, the purpose of this paper is to test the effects of anthropomorphic cues (namely, happy and sad faces) on consumer responses to service delays, depending on whether service providers are at fault for those delays.
Three experimental studies test the proposed effects.
Happy faces alongside messages about delays appear to provide no significant benefit to repatronage intentions compared to a non-anthropomorphic (control) condition, whether the service provider is or is not to blame. Meanwhile, sad faces are harmful when the provider is not to blame but can somewhat bolster repatronage intentions when the provider is at fault. Further, perceived sincerity of the facial expression and patience with the provider mediate these effects.
The findings offer important insights into how anthropomorphic cues, including emojis, can influence consumer responses to service delays. The work, thus, offers clarity around instances in which anthropomorphism might lead to negative consumer responses.
Managers can use the findings to increase patience and mitigate potentially negative consumer responses when service delays occur.
This work adds clarity to the literature on anthropomorphism by showing how blame attributions for service delays can lead to different consumer responses to anthropomorphic cues. The findings also show how anthropomorphism can help to mitigate negative consumer responses to service delays.
Ketron, S. and Naletelich, K. (2020), "How anthropomorphic cues affect reactions to service delays", Journal of Services Marketing, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JSM-09-2019-0334Download as .RIS
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