So-called 'the last mile' between order placement and delivery, is regarded as one of the critical phases of e-service, i.e., shopping service over Internet. In reality, however, a lot of evidence shows that the last mile is not managed properly compa ...
So-called 'the last mile' between order placement and delivery, is regarded as one of the critical phases of e-service, i.e., shopping service over Internet. In reality, however, a lot of evidence shows that the last mile is not managed properly compared to other phases of e-service. In order to prevent service quality problems and, if any, recover from them, e-tailers need to develop preventive and corrective strategies as well. The purpose of this research is to evaluate relative impacts of major antecedents of service recovery quality in various service failure settings, compare the effects of failure severity and recovery quality based on overall customer satisfaction and loyalty, and eventually suggest effective service recovery strategies.
For 'system failures' which occur at the first stage of e-service when customers use e-tailers' Web sites, candidate recovery tactics include provision of contact with service personnel, apologies, and speedy resolution. For 'delivery process failures' which happen at the mid-stage during the delivery waiting period, corrective tactics should include compensation for any time delay and inconvenience as well as the aforementioned three measures. Lastly, for 'delivery result failures' which take place at the last stage of e-service after the delivery, return service should be considered on the top of the preceding four tactics.
Our research model has the following research factors: failure severity and recovery quality as antecedents to overall customer satisfaction and loyalty; and contact, apologies, speed, compensation, and return as antecedents to recovery quality. Seven research hypotheses were established and data was gathered to test them. To this end, questionnaire survey was conducted for convenient samples consisting of female college students. Our statistical analysis includes factor analysis, reliability test, and regression analysis.
The research findings are as follows: Both of negative impact of failure severity and positive effect of recovery quality are tested as significant on overall customer satisfaction. However, the absolute magnitude of positive effect appears to be greater than that of negative impact, which implies that positive net impact on customer satisfaction can be produced by practicing appropriate recovery tactics even on adverse service failure occasions. This phenomenon becomes more evident on customer loyalty. For our tests do not suggest a significant impact of failure severity on loyalty, while the opposite is true for recovery quality and customer satisfaction. Indeed, the failure severity has only the direct impact on satisfaction, but not on loyalty possibly because its impact has been filtered during the customer satisfaction process. Overall, recovery tactics are found to have strategic leverage on customers.
Our research findings provide the contingent recovery strategies as follows: For system failures, contact and apology facets of recovery arrangements should be stressed. For delivery process failures, apology, speed, and compensation should be emphasized. For delivery result failures, in contrast, apology, speed, and return deserves keen attention. Thus, different combinations of recovery tactics are suggested for the three types of e-service failure. Detailedly, apology stands out as one of the most influential antecedents to overall customer satisfaction, second to none regardless of failure type. In sum, it should be reemphasized to e-tailers that e-service recovery works and it does matter to apply a right combination of recovery tactics depending on failure type.