Customer relationship orientation in response to dissatisfactory service encounters

Date of Completion

January 2001


Business Administration, Marketing




In this dissertation, I study how customers respond when they have dissatisfactory service experiences. I propose that dissatisfied customers can undertake one of four possible customer relationship orientations in response to their service encounters, namely the Loyalist, Placekeeper, Pessimist, or Terminator customer relationship orientation. I identify and distinguish among the orientations based on the emotions, verbal responses, and non-verbal responses elicited by the customer during the negative encounter, the cognitions and relationship intention considered immediately following the negative encounter, and the relevant behaviors undertaken after the dissatisfactory encounter. ^ My research involves three separate, though highly interrelated studies. In Studies 1 and 2, I employ a qualitative methodology (depth interview) to explore customers' reactions to dissatisfactory service encounters. Study 1 involves an analysis of customers' accounts of their emotional, cognitive, and behavioral reactions to dissatisfactory encounters. Study 2 reports on service providers' perspectives of dissatisfied customers' emotions and behaviors. The results of both studies, in conjunction with prior research, enable me to develop a research framework and create specific propositions concerning the differences among the four customer relationship orientations. ^ Study 3 uses a survey of consumers who have had a recent dissatisfactory service experience to test my research propositions. Data are collected using an online survey. The objectives of this study are to identify significant differences among the feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and relationship intentions for each customer relationship orientation, and to profile different segments of dissatisfied customers in services contexts. ^