Consumer Coping Strategies with Dissatisfactory Service Encounters: A Preliminary Investigation


  • Beth F. Godwin University of Waikato
  • Paul G. Patterson University of New South Wales
  • Lester W. Johnson Monash Mt. Eliza Business School


Understanding the mechanisms by which consumers cope with dissatisfactory service encounters is a key challenge for marketing scholars and service practitioners. Furthermore, it has significant implications for service recovery, design and quality control.  Although several studies have addressed the issue of how consumers communicate their dissatisfaction, little is known about the actual coping process and the variables that influence this in relation to dissatisfactory (stressful) service encounters. To this end the research in social psychology on coping behavior in a range of situations can make a contribution. The model of emotion and coping developed by Folkman and Lazarus is particularly applicable to the post-encounter process.  They identified that as a result of a stressful encounter individuals will make a cognitive appraisal of what is at stake for them, the resources they have available to deal with the situation, and as a consequence utilize various coping strategies. Our research involved an extensive review of the relevant social psychology and consumer complaining behavior literature and a series of qualitative (critical incident) interviews. Appraisals and coping strategies employed by dissatisfied consumers in a range of service contexts have been identified. Importantly it also sheds light on the psychological processes underlying consumers' coping behavior. This paper concludes with managerial implications and directions for future research.



— Updated on 2022-03-03


  • 2022-03-03 (2)
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