The role of human interaction in complaint handling


  • Jeanpert Sophie
  • Jacquemier Laure
  • Claye-Puaux Sophie


  • Human interaction
  • Justice theory
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Relational investment
  • Recovery orientation

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While it is widely accepted that managing customer complaints is crucial for companies, the question of how best to manage these complaints is still a matter of debate. A growing number of studies highlight the effectiveness of digital complaint channels on customer behaviour and satisfaction, suggesting that direct human interaction is no longer necessary in the recovery process. Building on this observation, our research questions the interest of maintaining or not direct human interactions in the management of customer complaints. We carry a quantitative study on 427 respondents, which shows that when the recovery process involves human interaction, customers have a better perception of justice and of the company's relational efforts and are more satisfied with the resolution process. Customers are responsive to human interaction in the service recovery process. Thus, from a managerial point of view, complaint management should be part of a consumer centric approach that includes verbal exchanges (face to face or by phone). As tempting as it may seem to companies to completely digitize complaint management, we believe that maintaining direct human interactions is beneficial to customer relationships.

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