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.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes