Organizational and Customer Moderators of Service Recovery on Consumer Forgiveness in Health Care


  • L. Jean Harrison-Walker University of Houston-Clear Lake


Marketing researchers want to better understand service recovery in terms of how failures impact consumers and the effectiveness of recovery strategies. Given the critical mediating role of forgiveness between service recovery and desired outcomes, the purpose of the current research is to pursue the richness of the service recovery model by exploring various interactive effects that impact the recovery-forgiveness relationship. This research empirically examines the role of organizational and customer variables as potential moderators in the health care industry using structural equation modeling, the preferred statistical methodology for examining latent continuous variables. We apply the Ping (1995) method of evaluating moderators involving latent continuous variables. Support is found for seven of the nine moderators tested: severity of error, offense repetition, intention of the offense, incompetence perception, response effort and timeliness of response, and involvement. Variety seeking also has a modest effect.


Aguinis H. (2004). Regression analysis for categorical moderators. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Aguinis, H., Beaty, J.C., Boik, R.J., & Pierce, C.A. (2005). Effect size and power in assessing moderating effects of categorical variables using multiple regression: a 30-year review. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(1), 94–107.

Aiken, L.S. & West, S.G. West (1991) Multiple Regression: Testing and interpreting interactions. Newbury Park, CA: Sage.

Altman, D.G. & Royston, P. (2006). The cost of dichotomizing continuous variables. BMJ 332:1080.

Aron, D. (2001). Consumer grudgeholding: toward a conceptual model and research agenda. Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior, 14.

Aron, D., Judson, K., Aurand, T. & Gordon, G. (2007). Consumer grudgeholding: Does age make a difference? American Journal of Business, 22(1), 45-58.

Aron, D. & Kultgen, O. (2019). The definitions of dysfunctional consumer behavior: concepts, content and questions. Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior, 32, 40-53.

Bagozzi, R.P. & Heatherton, T.F. (1994). A general approach to representing multifacted personality constructs: application to state self-esteem. Structural Equation Modeling, 1(1), 35-67.

Baumeister, R.F., Stillwell, A. & Wotman, S.R. (1990). Victim and perpetrator accounts of interpersonal conflict: autobiographical narratives about anger. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59, 994–1005.

Bejou, D. & Palmer, A. (1998). Service failure and loyalty: an exploratory study of airline customers. Journal of Services Marketing, 12(1), 7-22.

Berry, L.L., Parasuraman, A. & Zeithaml, V.A. (1988). The service-quality puzzle. Business Horizons, 31(5), 35-43.

Bitner, M. J. (1990). Evaluating service encounters: the effects of physical surroundings and employee responses. Journal of Marketing, 54(2), 69-82.

Bitner, M.J., Booms, B.H. & Tetrault, M.S. (1990). The service encounter: diagnosing favorable and unfavorable incidents. Journal of Marketing, 54(1), 71-84.

Bolton, R.N. & Drew, J.H. (1991). A multistage model of customers’ assessment of service quality and value. Journal of Consumer Research, 17(4), 375-384.

Boon, S.D. & Sulsky, L.M. (1997). Attributions of blame and forgiveness in romantic relationships: a policy-capturing study. Journal of Social Behavior and Personality, 12, 19-44.

Bougie, R., Pieters, R. & Zeelenberg, M. (2003). Angry customers don’t come back, they get back: the experience and behavioral implications of anger and dissatisfaction in services. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Sciences, 33(4), 377-393.

Bradfield, M. & Aquino, K. (1999). The effects of blame attributions and offender likableness on forgiveness and revenge in the workplace. Journal of Management, 25(5), 607-631.

Bradley, G. & Sparks, B. (2012). Explanations: If, when and how they aid service recovery. Journal of Services Marketing, 26(1), 41-50.

Brown, S.P. & Leigh, T.W. (1996). A new look at psychological climate and its relationship to job involvement, effort and performance. Journal of Applied Psychology, 81(4), 358-368.

Bugelski, B.R. (1982). Learning and imagery. Journal of Mental Imagery, 6(2), 1-92.

Bunker, M.P. & Bradley, M.S. (2007). Toward understanding customer powerlessness: analysis of an internet complaint site. Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior, 20, 54-71.

Busemeyer, J.R. & Jones, L.E. (1983). Analysis of multiplicative combination rules when the causal variables are measured with error. Psychological Bulletin, 93, 549–562.

Carillat, F.A., Jaramillo, F. & Mulki, J.P. (2007). The validity of the servqual and servperf scales: a meta‐analytic view of 17 years of research across five continents. International Journal of Service Industry Management, 18(5), 472-490.

Casidy, R. & Shin, H. (2015). The effects of harm directions and service recovery strategies on consumer forgiveness and negative word-of-mouth intentions. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 27, 103–112.

Celsi, R.I. & Olson, J.G. (1988). The role of involvement in attention and comprehension processes. Journal of Consumer Research, 15, 210-224.

Celuch, K., N.M. Robinson, & A.M. Walz (2015). A Framework for Encouraging Retail Customer Feedback. Journal of Services Marketing, 29 (4), 280-292.

Chueng, M.F.Y & To, W.M. (2017). The effect of organizational responses to service failures on customer satisfaction perception. Service Business, 11, 767-784.

Churchill, G.A., Jr. (1979). A paradigm for developing better measures of marketing constructs. Journal of Marketing Research, 16 (February), 64-73.

Cohen, J. & Cohen, P. (1983). Applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioral sciences. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.

Cohen J., Cohen, P., West, S.G. & Aiken, L.S. (2003). LS. applied multiple regression/correlation analysis for the behavioural sciences, 3rd. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Earlbaum Associates.

Conlon, D.E. & Murray, N.M. (1996). Customer perceptions of corporate responses to product complaints: the role of explanations. Academy of Management Journal, 39, 1040–1056.

Cortina, J., Chen, G. & Dunlap, W. (2001). Testing interaction effects in Lisrel: examination and illustration of available procedures. Organizational Research Methods, 4, 324-360.

Cortina, J.M., Markell-Goldstein, H.M., Green, J.P., & Chang, Y. (2021). How are we testing interactions in latent variable models? Surging forward or fighting shy? Organizational Research Methods, 24(1), 26-54.

Dabholkar, P., Shepherd, C. D., & Thorpe, D. I. (2000). A comprehensive framework for service quality: An investigation of critical conceptual and measurement issues through a longitudinal study. Journal of Retailing, 76(2), 139–173.

Dabholkar, P., Thorpe, D.I. & Rentz, J.O. (1996). A measure of service quality for retail stores: scale development and validation. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 24(1), 3-16.

Darke, P.R. & Ritchie, R.B. (2007). The defensive consumer: advertising deception, defensive processing and distrust. Journal of Marketing Research, 44, 114-127.

Dasu, S. & Rao, J. (1999). Nature and determinants of customer expectations of service recovery in health care. Quality Management in Health Care, 7(4) (Summer), 32-48. DOI: 10.1097/00019514-199907040-00007

Davidow, Moshe (2014). The A-craft model of organizational responses to customer complaints and their impact on post-complaint customer behavior. The Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior, 27, 70-89.

Fairchild, A.J. & McQuillin, S.D. (2010). Evaluating mediation and moderation effects in school psychology: a presentation of methods and review of current practice. Journal of School Psychology, (Feb) 48(1), 53-84. Available at

Fincham, F.D. (2000). The kiss of the porcupines: From attributing responsibility to forgiving. Personal Relationships, 7, 1–23.

Fincham, F.D. & Bradbury, T.N. (1992). Assessing attributions in marriage: the relationship attribution measure. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 62, 457–468.

Folkes, V.S. (1984). Consumer reactions to product failure: an attribution approach. Journal of Consumer Research, 14, 398-409.

Funches, V. (2011). The consumer anger phenomenon: causes and consequences. Journal of Services Marketing, 25(6), 420-428.

Girard, M. & Mullet, E. (1997). Propensity to forgive in adolescents, young adults, older adults, and elderly people. Journal of Adult Development, 4, 209-220.

Gold, G.J. & Weiner, B. (2000). Remorse, confession, group identity, and expectancies about repeating a transgression. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 42, 13-52.

Goodwin, C. & Ross, I. (1992). Consumer responses to service failure: influence of procedural and interactional fairness perceptions. Journal of Business Research, 25(2), 149–163.

Gronroos, C. (2000). Service management and strategy: marketing the moments of truth in service competition (2nd ed.). Lexington, MA: Lexington Books.

Gruber, T., Szmigin, I. & Voss, R. (2009). Developing a deeper understanding of the attributes of effective customer contact employees in personal complaint-handling encounters. Journal of Services Marketing, 23(6), 422-435.

Gruen, T.W., Summers, J.O. & Acito, F. (2000). Relationship marketing activities: commitment and membership behaviors in professional associations. Journal of Marketing, 64(3), 34-49.

Harris, R.J. (1985). A primer of multivariate statistics (2nd ed.). Orlando, FL: Academic Press.

Harris, L.C. & Ogbonna, E. (2002). Exploring service sabotage: the antecedents, types, and consequences of frontline, deviant, antiservice behavior. Journal of Services Research, 4(3), 163–83.

Harris, L.C. & Ogbonna, E. (2006). Service sabotage: a study of antecedents and consequences. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 34(4), 543-558.

Harrison-Walker, L.J. (2012). The role of cause and affect in service failure. Journal of Services Marketing, 26(2), 115-123.

Harrison-Walker, L.J. (2019). The critical role of customer forgiveness in successful service recovery. Journal of Business Research, 95, 376-391.

Harrison-Walker, L.J. (2020). Services gone wrong: investigating cause and affect. Journal of Customer Behavior, 19(1), 73-94.

Hirschman, A.O. (1970). Exit, voice and loyalty: Responses to decline in firms, organizations and states. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.

Holbrook, M.B. & Hirschman, E.C. (1982). The experiential aspects of consumption: consumer fantasies, feelings and fun. Journal of Consumer Research, 9(2), 132–140.

Homburg, C., Fürst, A. & Koschate, N. (2010). On the importance of complaint handling design: a multi-level analysis of the impact in specific complaint situations. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 38, 265-287.

Homburg, C., Hoyer, W.D. & Stock, R.M. (2007). How to get lost customers back? a study of antecedents of revival. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 35, 461-474.

Hui, M.K. & Au, K. (2001). Justice perceptions of complaint-handling: a cross-cultural comparison between PRC and Canadian customers. Journal of Business Research, 52, 161–173.

Irwin, J.R. & McClelland, G.H. (2003). Negative consequences of dichotomizing continuous predictor variables. Journal of Marketing Research, 40, p.366-371.

Jaccard, J. & Wan, C.K. (1995). Measurement error in the analysis of interaction effect between continuous predictors using multiple regression: multiple indicator and structural equation approaches. Psychological Bulletin, 117, 348-357.

Jaccard, J., Turrisi, R., & Wan, C.K. (1990). Interaction effects in multiple regression. Newbury Park, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

Jayanti, R. & Jackson, A. (1991). Service satisfaction: an exploratory investigation of three models. In Advances in Consumer Research, eds. Rebecca H. Holman and Michael R. Solomon, Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research 18(1), 603-610. Available at

Johnston, R. (2001). Linking complaint management to profit. International Journal of Service Industry Management, 12(1), 60-9.

Johnston, R. & Mehra, S. (2002). Best-practice complaint management. Academy of Management Executive, 16(4), 145-54.

Joireman, J., Gregoire, Y. & Tripp, T.M. (2016). Customer forgiveness following service failure. Current Opinion in Psychology, 10, 76-82.

Jones, H., & Farquhar, J.D. (2007). Putting it right: service failure and customer loyalty in UK banks. International Journal of Bank Marketing, 25(3), 161-172.

Kahn, B.E. (1995). Consumer variety-seeking among goods and services. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 2, 139–148.

Kahneman, D. & Tversky, A. (1979). Prospect theory: a note on the perception of time in consumer behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, 11, 615–618.

Karani, K.S. (2021). Forgiving a loved brand in the face of transgression: An exploratory study. Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior, 34, 119-131.

Karatepe, O.M. & Ekiz, E.H. (2004). The effects of organizational responses to complaints on satisfaction and loyalty: a study of hotel guests in Northern Cyprus. Managing Service Quality, 14(6), 476-486.

Kline, T.J.B. & Dunn, B. (2000). Analysis of interaction terms in structural equation models: a non-technical demonstration using the deviation score approach. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science, 32(2), 127-132.

Kokkinaki, F. (1999). Predicting product purchase and usage: the role perceives control, past behavior and product involvement. In Advances in Consumer Research, eds. Eric J. Arnould and Linda M. Scott, Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research 26, 576–583. Available at

Liao, H. (2007). Do it right this time: the role of employee service recovery performance in customer-perceived justice and customer loyalty after service failures. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(2), 475–489.

Machleit, K.A. & Mantel, S.P. (2001). Emotional response and shopping satisfaction moderating effects of shopper attributions. Journal of Business Research, 54, 97-106.

Mattila, A. (2006). How affective commitment boosts guest loyalty (and promotes frequent guest programs). Cornell Hotel and Restaurant Administration Quarterly, 47(2),174-181.

Maxham, J.G. & Netemeyer, R.G. (2002). Modeling customer perceptions of complaint handling over time: the effects of perceived justice on satisfaction and intent. Journal of Retailing, 78(4), 239-52.

McColl-Kennedy, J.R., Daus, C.S. & Sparks, B.A. (2003). The role of gender om reactions to service failure and recovery. Journal of Service Research, 6(1), 66-82.

McCullough, M.A., Berry, L.L. & Yadav, M.S. (2000). An empirical investigation of customer satisfaction after service failure and recovery. Journal of Service Research, 3(2), 121-137.

McCullough, M.E., Pargament, K.I., & Thoresen, C.E., eds. (2000). Forgiveness: Theory, research and practice. New York: The Guilford Press.

McCullough, M.E., Rachal, K.C., Sandage, S.J., Worthington, E.L. Jr., Brown, S.W. & Hight, T.L. (1998). Interpersonal forgiving in close relationships: ii. theoretical elaboration and measurement. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 1586–1603.

McQuarrie, E.F. & Munson, J.M. (1992). A revised product involvement inventory: improved usability and validity. In Advances in Consumer Research. Eds. John F. Sherry, Jr. and Brian Sternthal, Provo, UT: Association for Consumer Research 19(1), 108-115. Available at

McSweeney, F.L. & Bierley, C. (1984). Recent developments in classical conditioning. Journal of Consumer Research, 11(2), 619-631.

Mehrabian, A. & Russell, J.A. (1974). An approach to environmental psychology. The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA.

Mittal, V., Kumar, P. & Tsiros, M. (1999). Attribute-level performance, satisfaction, and behavioral intentions over time: a consumption-system approach. Journal of Marketing, 63, 88–101.

Mohr, L.A. & Bitner, M.J. (1995). The role of employee effort in satisfaction with service transactions. Journal of Business Research, 32, 239-52.

Muhammad, L. & Gul-R-Rana (2020). Mediating role of customer forgiveness between perceived justice and satisfaction. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services, 52, 1-7.

Murphy, K.R., & Russell, C J. (2017). Mend it or end it: Redirecting the search for interactions in the organizational sciences. Organizational Research Methods, 20(4), 549–573.

Oliva, T., Oliver, R. & MacMillan, I. (1992). A catastrophe model for developing service satisfaction strategies. Journal of Marketing, 56 (July), 83‐95.

Peter, J.P. & Nord, W.R. (1982). A clarification and extension of operant conditioning principles in marketing. Journal of Marketing, 46(3), 102-107.

Peter, J.P. & Olson, J.C. (1999). Consumer behavior and marketing strategy, 5th edition. Irwin/McGraw-Hill, Boston, MA.

Ping, R.A. (1995). A parsimonious estimating technique for interaction and quadratic latent variables. Journal of Marketing Research, 32(3), 336–347.

Priluck, R. & Wisenblit, J. (2009). The impact of exchange lineage on customers’ responses to service debacles and subsequent recovery. Services Marketing Quarterly, 30(4), 365-376.

Radu, A.G., Arli, D., Surachartkumtonkun, J., Weaven, S. & Wright, O. (2019). Empathy and apology: the effectiveness of recovery strategies. Marketing Intelligence and Planning, 37(4), 358-371.

Rapske, D.L., Boon, S.D., Alibhai, A.M. & Kheong, M.J. (2010). Not forgiven, not forgotten: an investigation of unforgiven interpersonal offenses. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 29(10), 1100-1130.

Ro, H. & Matilla, A.S. (2015). Silent voices: nonbehavioral reactions to service failures. Services Marketing Quarterly, 36(2), 95-111.

Rogers, C.R. (1961). On becoming a person. Houghton Mifflin: New York.

Roschk, H. & Kaiser, S. (2013). The nature of an apology: an experimental study on how to apologize after a service failure. Marketing Letters, 24(3), 293-309.

Russell, D. (1982). The causal dimension scale: a measure of how individuals perceive causes. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 42, 1137–1145.

Sarstedt, M., Hair, Jr., J.F., Nitzl, C., Ringle, C.M. & Howard, M.C. (2020). Beyond a Tandem Analysis of SEM and PROCESS: Use of PLS-SEM for Mediation Analysis. International Journal of Market Research, 62(3), 288-299.

Saygan, F.N. (2011). Relationship between affective commitment and organizational silence: a conceptual discussion. International Journal of Social Sciences and Humanity Studies, 3(2), 219-227. Retrieved from

Saxby, C., Celuch, K. & Walz, A. (2015). How employee trustworthy behaviors interact to emotionally bond service customers. Journal of Consumer Satisfaction, Dissatisfaction and Complaining Behavior, 28, 75.

Sengupta, A.S., Balaji, M.S., & Krishnan, B.C. (2015). How customers cope with service failure? A study of brand reputation and customer satisfaction. Journal of Business Research, 68(3), 665-674.

Shin, H., Casidy, R. & Mattila, A.S. (2018). Service recovery, justice perception, and forgiveness: the ‘other customers” perspective. Services Marketing Quarterly, 39(1), 1-21.

Smith, A.K., Bolton, R.N. & Wagner, J. (1999). A model of customer satisfaction with service encounters involving failure and recovery. Journal of Marketing Research, 36(3), 356-372.

Spector, P.E. (1992) Summated rating scale construction. Newbury Park: Sage Publications, Ch.6.

Stephens, N. & Gwinner, K.P. (1998). Why don’t some people complain? a cognitive-emotive process model of consumer complaint behavior. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 26(3), 172-189.

Suri, A., Huang, B. & Senecal, S. (2019). I can forgive you, but I can’t forgive the firm: an examination of service failures in the sharing economy. Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 27(4), 355-370.

Taylor, S.A. & Baker, T.L. (1994). An assessment of the relationship between service quality and customer satisfaction in the formation of consumers’ purchase intentions. Journal of Retailing, 70(2), 163-178.

Tsarenko, Y. & Tojib, D. (2012). The role of personality characteristics and service failure severity on consumer forgiveness and service outcomes. Journal of Marketing Management, 28(9/10), 1217–1239.

Tsarenko, Y. & Tojib, D. (2015). Consumers' forgiveness after brand transgression: the effect of the firm's corporate social responsibility and response. Journal of Marketing Management, 31(17–18), 1851–1877.

Tsarenko, Y., Strizhakova, Y. & Otnes, C.C. (2019). Reclaiming the future: customer forgiveness of service transgressions. Journal of Service Research, 22(2), 139-155.

Tsiros, M., Mittal, V. & Ross, W.T. Jr. (2004). The role of attributions in customer satisfaction: a reexamination. Journal of Consumer Research, 31, 476-483.

Varki, S. & Wong, S. (2003). Consumer involvement in relationship marketing of services. Journal of Service Research, 6(1), 83-92.

Wade, N.G. & Worthington, Jr., E.L. (2003). Overcoming Interpersonal Offenses: Is Forgiveness the Only Way to Deal with Unforgiveness? Journal of Counseling and Development, 81, 343–353.

Walker, D.F. & Gorsuch, R.L. (2004). Dimensions underlying sixteen models of forgiveness and reconciliation. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 32(1), 12-25.

Weiner, B. (2000). Attributional thoughts about consumer behavior. Journal of Consumer Research, 27(3), 382-387.

Wieseke, J., Geigenmuller, A. & Kraus, F. (2012). On the role of empathy in customer-employee interactions. Journal of Service Research, 15(3), 316-331.

Wirtz, J. & Mattila, A.S. (2004). Consumer responses to compensation, speed of recovery and apology after a service failure. International Journal of Service Industry Management, 15(2), 150-166.

Worthington, Jr., E.L. (2003). Forgiving and reconciling: Bridges to wholeness and hope. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

Worthington, Jr., E.L. (2005). Handbook of forgiveness. New York: Brunner-Routledge Press.

Worthington, Jr., E.L. & Wade, N.G. (1999). The Social Psychology of Unforgiveness and Forgiveness and Implications for Clinical Practice. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 18, 385–418.

Wu, C. & Lo, H. (2012). Customer reactions to encountering consecutive service failures. Journal of Consumer Behavior, 11, 217-224.

Yagil, D. & Luria, G. (2016). Customer forgiveness of unsatisfactory service: manifestations and antecedents. Service Business, 10(3), 557-579.

Yim, C.K., Tse, D.K., & Chan, K.W. (2008). Strengthening customer loyalty through intimacy and passion: Roles of customer–firm affection and customer–staff relationships in services. Journal of Marketing Research, 45(6), 741-756.

Zourrig, H., Chebat, J. & Toffoli, R. (2015). In-group love and out-group hate? A crosscultural study on customers'; revenge, avoidance and forgiveness behaviors. Journal of Business Research, 68(3), 487–499.



2022-02-12 — Updated on 2022-12-15