Complaint and switching intention after service failures - the role of affective commitment and complaint barriers

Christian Brock, Dieter Ahlert, Heiner Evanschitzky

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Previous research estimates that only 5-10 percent of customers voice their complaint to the firm after a service failure. Therefore, the majority of dissatisfied customers switch the provider. Several studies postulate to ease the complaint voicing by reducing the perceived complaint barriers, e.g. by offering various communication channels. The current paper provides new insight about the reasons of not voicing the complaints and the perceived reduction of complaint barriers. Based on a 2(low vs. high affective commitment) X 2 (low vs. high complaint barrier) experimental study (consisting of two industry settings: restaurant and fashion retailing) with 280 students the findings entail interaction effects between affective commitment and perceived complaint barriers, and their impact on complaint intention. More precisely, results find some support for the hypothesis that committed customers display a higher intention to complain than weakly committed customers irrespective of complaint barriers. Furthermore, the paper provides new findings about the coherency of switching intention of dissatisfied customers and the perceived complaint barriers. Results find some support for the hypothesis that customers, faced with low levels of complaint barriers, exhibit a lower level of switching intention than customers faced with high levels of complaint barriers in restaurant setting. Managerial implications of these findings for complaint managers of service industries are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the AMA SERVSIG International Research Conference
Place of PublicationLiverpool, United Kingdom
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 2008


  • customer loyalty
  • switching barriers
  • customer satisfaction
  • complaint
  • complaint barriers
  • affective commitment
  • service failure
  • customer dissatisfaction

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