Employing Proactive Interaction for Service Failure Prevention to Improve Customer Service Experiences

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Service Theory and Practice






Purpose: Services marketing research continues to be largely focused on firms’ reactive interactions for recovering from service failure rather than on proactive customer interactions that may prevent service failure from occurring in the first place. Building on previous studies that assess the efficacy of implementing proactive interaction in service provision contexts, the purpose of this paper is to compare the influences of proactive interaction to prevent service failure and reactive interaction to correct service failure on customer emotion and patronage behavior. Since proactive interaction for service failure prevention is a relatively underexplored and resource-intensive approach, the authors also assess the moderating influences of customer and firm-related characteristics.

Design/Methodology/Approach: The study hypotheses are tested with survey data from two scenario-based experiments conducted in a retail setting.

Findings: The findings reveal that customers prefer service providers that take the initiative to get to them before they have to initiate contact for themselves. The findings also identify the moderating influences of relationship quality, situational involvement, and contact person status and motive.

Originality/Value: The research contributes to the development of service provision theory and practice by expanding on previous studies which report that proactive efforts to prepare customers for the adverse effects of service failure are favorably received. The results also shed light on moderating factors that may further inform the exploitation of resource-intensive proactive interaction for service failure prevention. An agenda is proposed to stimulate future research on proactive customer interaction to prevent service failure in service provision contexts.