Knowing how to handle angry customers following a service• failure is an important aspect of a service provider's work role. Therefore, this research has two main objectives: (1) to explore and understand customer anger in a service failure context; and (2) based on the understanding of these psychological aspects of customer anger, identify strategies to diffuse customer anger.
To fulfill these research objectives, this thesis draws on services marketing and psychology literature (chapter 2) to propose a two-phase conceptual model (chapter 5). In Phase one, it is argued that an external cause service failure produces anger and that cognitive appraisal in terms of: (1) goal relevance; (2) goal incongruence; and (3) ego-involvement moderates the intensity of anger experienced by the customer. In Phase 2, it is argued that customer anger can be reduced by the service provider doing the following: (1) listening; (2) blame displacement; and (3) apology.
This thesis considers validity and credibility of the conceptual model by a careful research design. Chapter 3 provides an overview of research paradigms, and judgments of the methodology used in this thesis. Chapter 4 designs the research using the Critical Incident Technique. An exploratory qualitative study is conducted in chapter 6. The findings of the qualitative study not only support the conceptual model, but also deepen the understanding of the meaning of each element in the conceptual model.