Does a surprise strategy need words? The effect of explanations for a surprise strategy on customer delight and expectations

Min Gyung Kim, Anna S. Mattila

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Purpose: Delighting customers by pleasant surprises is a common strategy, yet the potential downside of such a strategy (i.e. raising customer expectations) has received scant attention. The purpose of this study is to examine the role of explanations as a solution to control customers' expectations following a surprise-delight event. Design/methodology/approach: Hypotheses were tested with a 2 (surprise)×2 (explanation) between-subjects experimental design in two different service contexts (utilitarian and hedonic). University staff and faculty members served as the participant pool. Findings: The results indicate that providing an explanation helps to avoid raising customer expectations to unsustainable levels and enhances customer delight. Research limitations/implications: Using hypothetical scenarios, single test for each context, and having the participants with high educational and income levels are identified as limitations in this study. Practical implications: This study demonstrates that providing appropriate explanations can reduce escalating expectations for future consumption episodes and thus help service firms to effectively delight their customers. Originality/value: This is the first empirical study to test the use of explanation as a possible solution for problems associated with surprise strategies, therefore extending the relevant literature.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)361-370
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Services Marketing
Volume27
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 1 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Marketing

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