Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science

, Volume 43, Issue 4, pp 512–527 | Cite as

Don’t try harder: using customer inoculation to build resistance against service failures

  • Sven Mikolon
  • Benjamin Quaiser
  • Jan WiesekeEmail author
Original Empirical Research


Capitalizing on a large-scale field experimental dataset involving 1,254 airline customers, this study introduces customer inoculation as a new, proactive strategy for mitigating the negative consequences that service failures have on customer satisfaction. Results confirm that customer inoculation eases the decrease in satisfaction when customers experience a service failure. Additional analyses indicate that customer inoculation does not harm customer satisfaction if no service failure occurs. This finding sets inoculation apart from expectation management and underscores the potential inoculation has for marketing practice. Furthermore, contrary to traditional recovery strategies for addressing service failures, customer inoculation operates in advance of a service failure and thereby circumvents potential drawbacks of traditional strategies. In sum, customer inoculation represents a novel strategy for addressing service failures with respect to existing marketing literature and expands the scope of action for companies when they cannot avoid offering occasionally flawed services.


Customer inoculation Customer satisfaction Services marketing Service failure 


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Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sales & Marketing Department Ruhr-University of BochumBochumGermany
  2. 2.FOM Hochschule für Oekonomie & Management BerlinBerlinGermany
  3. 3.European School of Management and TechnologyBerlinGermany
  4. 4.Loughborough UniversityLeicestershireUK

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