Service recovery paradox

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The service recovery paradox is a situation where a customer thinks more highly of a company after it has corrected a problem with their service, compared to how he or she would regard the company if no service failure had happened. The term was coined in 1992 by Michael McCollough and Sundar Bharadwaj,[1] who defined service recovery as "a situation in which a consumer has experienced a problem which has been satisfactory resolved, and where the consumer subsequently rates their satisfaction to be equal to or greater than that in which no problem had occurred".

For example, a customer has a poor experience at a theme park, and thinks less of the venue as a result. He writes a letter of complaint and receive a generous number of free tickets in response. The customer is elated, and thinks more highly of the theme park company than he would have if there had been no error in the first place.

Empirical tests of the effect showed mixed results.[2] One study concluded that the effect was most likely to occur when a number of conditions were met, such as the customer considering the failure not to be serious, and to be out of the company's control.[3]


  1. ^ McCollough, Michael A., and Sundar G. Bharadwaj. "The Recovery Paradox: An Examination of Customer Satisfaction in Relation to Disconfirmation, Service Quality, and Attribution Based Theories." In Marketing Theory and Applications, edited by Chris T. Allen, 119. Chicago: American Marketing Association, 1992.
  2. ^ de Matos, Celso Augusto, Henrique, Jorge Luiz, & Rossi, Carlos Alberto Vargas. (2007). Service Recovery Paradox: A Meta-Analysis. Journal of Service Research, 10(1).
  3. ^ Magnini, Vincent P., Ford, John B., Markowski, Edward P., & Jr., Honeycutt. Earl D. (2007). The Service Recovery Paradox: Justifiable Theory or Smoldering Myth? Journal of Service Marketing, 21(3), 213-225.