The Behavior of Dissatisfied Customers

  • Bernd Stauss
  • Wolfgang Seidel
Part of the Management for Professionals book series (MANAGPROF)


Whoever wants to avoid dissatisfaction or placate dissatisfied customers must know how (dis)satisfaction arises, what keeps customers from complaining and what aspects of the firm’s reaction to a complaint please and bind customers. Dissatisfaction occurs if the perceived performance falls short of the customers’ expectations. In complaints, customers express their dissatisfaction and the perceived violation of their minimum expectations. Complaints contain relevant, more current, more concrete and more cost-effective information about customer dissatisfaction than standardized satisfaction surveys.

The majority of dissatisfied customers do not complain, but many of them switch and engage in negative word-of-mouth communication. Empirical complaint behavior research identifies a number of factors that determine the decision of dissatisfied customers to complain or not. Non-complaining behavior can particularly be expected, if customers judge that the costs of complaining will be higher than the attainable benefits or see little chance of success.

If dissatisfied customers complain, they have expectations about the outcomes of the complaint response, the interaction with the company as well as the complaint handling process. Complaint (dis)satisfaction occurs when these expectations are (not) met. Complaint satisfaction or dissatisfaction has an extraordinary influence on the customers’ future behavior: dissatisfaction is a major reason for customer migration and negative word-of-mouth communication; complaint satisfaction stabilizes the customer relationship and promotes positive word-of-mouth communication.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernd Stauss
    • 1
  • Wolfgang Seidel
    • 2
  1. 1.Catholic University of Eichstätt-IngolstadtIngolstadtGermany
  2. 2.servmark consultancyIngolstadt and MunichGermany

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