Measuring the intention-behavior gap in service failure and recovery: the moderating roles of failure severity and service recovery satisfaction


Marketing and Professional Sales

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Purpose: The intention-behavior gap that occurs when one’s actions do not align with their intentions has been the topic of interest of many researchers. However, the effects of the various constructs that influence the intention-behavior gap in service failure and recovery remain under-explored to date. To fill this gap, this study aims to examine the relationship between switching intention (i.e. intention) and customer exit (i.e. behavior) and the moderating roles of failure severity and service recovery satisfaction. Design/methodology/approach: To test the proposed hypotheses, the authors used a longitudinal panel involving 821 customers who actually experienced a service failure and recovery in 38 fitness centers in Brazil. The data analysis is composed of logistic regression and cross-tabulation. Findings: The results confirmed the significant role of switching intention on customer exit and the moderating effect of failure severity (but not service recovery satisfaction) in the relationship between switching intention and customer exit. Most of all, switching intention had low explanatory power for customer exit, confirming the presence of the intention-behavior gap. The authors further identified a weaker presence of the intention-behavior gap for female (vs male) customers and for those who experienced process failure (vs outcome failure). Research limitations/implications: Although the authors confirmed the intention-behavior gap, the biggest proportion of the variance remains unexplained. Thus, it is important to explore the roles of other possible drivers, moderators and mediators. Practical implications: As switching intention is not a strong predictor of customer exit, managers should not assume that those who appear to be on the verge of switching will immediately exit the service provider. Originality/value: As researchers question the explanatory power of intention for actual behavior, this paper confirms that there is an intention-behavior gap in service failure and recovery. Moreover, given that most researchers have focused on the positive outcomes of service recovery efforts, such as customer loyalty and commitment, studying negative outcomes, including switching intention and customer exit, is a key contribution of this research.

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European Journal of Marketing

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