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SOLVING CUSTOMER COMPLAINTS: A STUDY OF MULTIPLE COMMERCIAL SETTINGS

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Author(s): Gurau Calin | | |

Journal: Annals of the University of Oradea : Economic Science
ISSN 1222-569X

Volume: 1;
Issue: 2;
Start page: 827;
Date: 2012;
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Keywords: customers’ complaints | customers’ satisfaction | multiple commercial settings

ABSTRACT
Theme: Many reports stress the importance of solving customer complaints in order to maintain customer satisfaction, but also to learn from mistakes and further improve the customer service. However, relatively few empirical studies have been conducted regarding the effect of complains handling activities on customer satisfaction and on company-customer relationships. Objectives of research: This paper attempts to identify the main elements of the complaints handling strategy that are considered essential for customers, and their effect on customer satisfaction. Literature analysis/previous research: Previous studies define a complaint as a conflict between a consumer and a business organisation in which the fairness of the resolution procedures, the interpersonal communication and behaviour, and the outcome of the complaint resolution process are the principal evaluative criteria used by the customer. In our opinion, a complaint is not necessary a conflict, however, it can create a conflict between a customer and a business organisation, when the answer to the consumer’s complaint is not satisfactory. Therefore, the way in which business organisations deal with consumer complaints can significantly influence the consumers’ level of satisfaction and loyalty. Research methodology: The empirical analysis of primary data collected through face-to-face interviews with 150 French customers provides a detailed picture of the specific elements of complains handling which are perceived as important in four different settings defined in relation to the perceived importance of the product or service, and the emergency of the experienced problem. Results: The identified elements of the complaint-handling procedure have a variable importance from one element to the other, and in the context of various complaint situations. This finding highlights the fact that, depending on each situation, the factors that will determine customer’s satisfaction, and that will shape the final perception of the complaint service, will be different. On the other hand, the study presents and discusses the effect of various dimensions of the complaints handling strategy on the customer satisfaction. Implications: The findings of this study indicate the specific elements that should be improved by companies in order to enhance the quality of the complaint-handling process in various transactional situations. Contribution of author/authors: The present paper compares the importance of the various dimensions already identified by researchers in relation to four different situations defined by the variation of two subjective dimensions: the importance associated by the customer to the product and the emergency level of the product/service failure.
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