Customer Coping Behaviour During Service Failures: The Role of Self-Efficacy and Failure Severity

Jaywant Singh, Benedetta Crisafulli, Sanjit Kumar Roy

Research output: Chapter in Book/Conference paperOther chapter contributionpeer-review


Due to the complexity of services, service failures are inevitable events for service organisations and can make customers dissatisfied and willing to switch. When these events occur, organisations often attempt service recovery. Notwithstanding, recovery efforts do not always reduce customer discontentment and restore repatronage intentions. This is attributed to other factors outside the firm’s control, including how customers cope with service failures. Some customers cope with equanimity, whilst others vent their frustration and anger by complaining and generating negative word-of-mouth. Service failures are stressful and emotion-laden events, which trigger coping processes; thus, understanding these processes is vital for service organisations. However, evidence in this research area is rather sparse. This study investigates the role of individual characteristics and situational factors in shaping customer coping with service failures. In particular, the study examines how self-efficacy and failure severity, and their interaction, influence customer coping mechanisms in the context of failed health services. In the healthcare sector, patient safety is a priority for health service providers. Yet, ensuring patient safety is challenging. Medical errors occur frequently, with serious consequences for patient health and the finances of health service providers. The healthcare sector, therefore, provides a timely and relevant context for examining customer coping. The study employed a scenario-based experiment. For data collection, a self-administered questionnaire was designed embedding a scenario of a customer experience of service failure with a private US healthcare service provider. Two versions of the same questionnaire were designed based on the manipulation of failure severity set at two levels, high and low. Prior to the main study, a pilot test was conducted (n = 30) in order to establish the ecological and internal validity of findings. In the main study, respondents included a convenience sample of US consumers using a private healthcare service provider (n = 113). For data analysis, linear and moderated regression analyses were conducted. The study’s findings reveal that individuals high in self-efficacy are inclined to use their individual capabilities to actively attempt to find a solution, especially when health service failures are low in severity. When failures are severe, on the other hand, customers foresee the lack of capability to resolve the failure, thereby engaging less in active coping. Further, results show that customers high in self-efficacy rarely engage in denial coping, thereby avoiding that the service failure even happened. The study makes two important theoretical contributions. First, it investigates customer coping in the private healthcare service context, which has been largely overlooked in past research. Second, it demonstrates how self-efficacy differentially impacts customer coping strategies depending on the level of failure severity. From a managerial perspective, the study’s findings indicate that some customers are keen to be actively involved in the recovery process, especially in the context of high involvement health services. Service providers could identify efficacious customers and engage them in co-created service recovery. Further, employees could be trained to deal with different types of customer coping behaviour.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRediscovering the Essentiality of Marketing
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
EditorsLuca Petruzzellis, Russell S. Winer
PublisherSpringer Nature
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 2016

Publication series

NameDevelopments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
ISSN (Print)2363-6165
ISSN (Electronic)2363-6173


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