|M.Sc Student||Bar Galia|
|Subject||"#YourServiceSucks": Apologies in Online Text-Based|
Customer Service Interactions
|Department||Department of Industrial Engineering and Management||Supervisor||Professor Anat Rafaeli|
|Full Thesis text|
New online media services allow consumers to share their opinions and experiences with other consumers around the world, creating a platform of Electronic Word-of-Mouth (eWOM). One of the most popular media platforms is Twitter, an online social medium that allows consumers to post service issues, and communicate them to customer service agents. This platform also allows companies to communicate with consumers and presumably to improve their reputation. To alleviate the adverse effects of a negative eWOM, companies use the means of webcare - engaging in interactions with consumers to improve satisfaction, such as apologies. Apologies are considered a key factor in restoring psychological equity. The presence of an apology has a significant effect on customers’ perceptions of interactional justice. The purpose of this paper is to examine the effects of the presence of an apology in a Twitter customer service interaction on customer satisfaction. We analyzed 200 customer service Twitter interactions, asking 304 uninvolved participants in three studies to rate the satisfaction of the involved consumer. Results of four experiments indicated the words and phrases distinguishing apologies and non-apologies in interactions (Study 1). That consumer satisfaction is increased by the presence of an apology (Study 2), and that the effect of apology on consumer satisfaction is stronger when the severity of the issue in the consumer complaint is low or mild rather than high (Study 3). Study 4 shows that a first-person singular apology (“I apologize ..)” produced a higher level of consumer satisfaction than an apology worded in plural third person (“Company X apologizes ?”). The multiple studies offer theoretical and practical contributions to the understanding of the dynamics of customer service maintained through public online platforms such as Twitter.