As an increasing number of customers choose to interact with service firms via technology, there is an urgent need to understand whether consumers react differently to technology-based failures/recovery efforts than human failures/recovery efforts. Using resource exchange theory as a framework, the present investigation examined the role of failure mode (SST vs. face-to-face encounter) and recovery mode on customers' fairness perceptions. Results from Study 1 suggest that compensation offered by a front-line employee might be more effective in restoring justice with traditional failures (match condition) than with SST failures (mismatch condition). Findings from Study 2 further support the matching hypothesis in terms of distributive justice. On the other hand, human touch seems more effective in restoring interactional fairness than on-line recovery. The follow-up study extends the matching hypothesis to satisfaction with problem handling and repurchase intent. Managerial implications of these findings are discussed.
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