Outsmarting the cheaters, Reducing illegitimate complaining

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
When a customer is disappointed with a service or product, he might file a complaint. When the firm has truly made a mistake, this is justified. However, sometimes customers file a complaint without the firm making a mistake. This study focusses on the illegitimate complaints filed by the ‘greedy customer’, one of four different types of illegitimate complainers. These illegitimate complaints are often justified with neutralization techniques, to condone their misbehaviour and convince others and themselves that their actions are appropriate. These neutralization techniques might be countered by firms with the use of deterrence tactics. This study will research whether a match between the neutralization technique and deterrence tactic will improve a customer’s cognitive behaviour and decrease his intention to complain. A survey was conducted with 536 respondents. The gathered data has been analysed using SPSS, specifically Anova. The analysis in this study shows no significant difference that a customer’s cognitive dissonance is higher and intention to complain is lower when the neutralization technique he uses to justify his complaint is countered by a deterrence tactic that matches this neutralization technique, compared to when it does not match. This study does show significant data to support that ‘claim of normalcy’ and ‘claim of entitlement’ are used more often by greedy customers than the neutralization techniques ‘denial of injury’ and ‘denial of victim’, and that ‘moral triggers’ improve a customer’s cognitive dissonance more than not using a deterrence tactic. The findings from this study can be used by scholars to further their understanding of why customers complain and provides them with a platform to understand ways to reduce customers from illegitimate complaining. Practitioners could use this study to further understand the drivers of illegitimate complaining, and that using ‘moral triggers’ to counter neutralization techniques increases a customer’s cognitive dissonance.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen