Customer forgiveness of unsatisfactory service: manifestations and antecedents

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research of service failures has focused on negative reactions such as retaliation, complaining, and switching behavior. This study is of customer forgiveness that reflects goodwill. Study 1, exploring manifestations of forgiveness in the service context, consisted of interviews with 52 customers. The results suggest that forgiveness is reflected in positive reframing, perspective taking, and tolerance. In Study 2, designed to explore the antecedents of forgiveness, respondents (N = 286, 55.4 % women) were presented with scenarios manipulating strength of relationship and blame, and measuring forgiveness. The results show that the effect of blame on the expected outcomes of forgiveness and loyalty intentions is stronger under strong customer-service provider relationships. Additionally, relationship strength has a stronger effect on forgiveness among women, even under high levels of blame. The results thus offer profiles for forgiving and unforgiving customers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)557-579
Number of pages23
JournalService Business
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015, Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg.


  • Customers
  • Forgiveness
  • Gender
  • Loyalty
  • Relationships

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management


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