Illegitimate complainants: who are they?
This research study explores the phenomenon of illegitimate complaining behavior. Whereas previous studies provided statistical relationships between drivers and illegitimate complaints, this study aims to explore if the drivers of illegitimate complaining behavior are interrelated with each other and could possibly be divided into types of illegitimate complainants, and how these types relate to neutralization techniques and relationship variables. Based on a grounded theory study with 29 semi-structured interviews, several insights into this topic have been found. Coding procedures revealed three types of illegitimate complainants, namely: ‘able to’ complainants, ‘need to’ complainants and ‘want to’ complainants. The three types of complainant are mostly, but not exclusively, related to individual drivers of illegitimate complaining behavior. Moreover, it appeared that the three types of illegitimate complainants mostly used different neutralization techniques when rationalizing their deviant behavior. Besides, it appeared that both the ‘able to’ and ‘need to’ type of complainant experienced a positive influence on the customer-company relationship after service recovery, whereas the ‘want to’ type of complainant experienced a deteriorated relationship with the organization in question. Considering these findings, practitioners should carefully reevaluate the principle of ‘the customer is always right’ as it can be doubted whether this notion really reflects reality.
Faculteit der Managementwetenschappen