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Misery loves company: evaluation of negative e-WOM effects at the post-service recovery stage

Aditi Sarkar Sengupta (The Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany)
Marla Royne Stafford (University of Nevada Las Vegas, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA)
Alexa K. Fox (The University of Akron, Akron, Ohio, USA)

Journal of Service Theory and Practice

ISSN: 2055-6225

Article publication date: 29 January 2024




The authors' research examines how negative electronic word-of-mouth (e-WOM) alters focal customers' post-recovery justice perceptions and attitudes to determine their future behavior with the service provider. Specifically, this paper develops and tests a conceptual model to investigate how negative e-WOM alters focal customers' perceptual and attitudinal outcomes after the service recovery experience. It also examines the post-recovery effect of negative e-WOM on focal customers’ willingness to patronize the service after their recovery experience.


To test the hypotheses, two pretests and two experimental studies with created scenarios in the retail context were conducted.


The authors' findings reveal that services are judged during and well beyond failure and recovery occurrences. To maintain a loyal customer base, service managers should develop processes that address service complaints both within and beyond the service consumption stage. The authors also find that despite a favorable recovery, focal customers gravitate toward the failure experience and develop unfavorable attitudes toward the service provider, leading to likely defections.


The authors' research demonstrates the persuasive power of negative e-WOM at the post-service recovery stage, making a unique contribution to the service recovery literature. This research also contributes to the persuasive effect of negative e-WOM, demonstrating message context as a boundary condition of negative e-WOM effects. In general, the authors' work highlights the importance of understanding the psychological processes involved in eliciting the persuasive influence of negative e-WOM in the post-service recovery stage that may lead to the defection of “so-called” successfully recovered customers.



Sengupta, A.S., Stafford, M.R. and Fox, A.K. (2024), "Misery loves company: evaluation of negative e-WOM effects at the post-service recovery stage", Journal of Service Theory and Practice, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print.



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