Communication Richness: Why Some Guest Complaints Go Right to the Top - and Others Do Not
Susskind, Alex M.
Despite everyone’s best efforts, restaurant service falls short at times. In those situations, guests perceive a service failure, and many complain. This study of 513 guests in three U.S. markets examines the guest characteristics that seem to drive the channel used for those complaints. Using a framework of media richness theory, the study found that guests who are more educated, more likely to complain, more frustrated, and in need of greater information about the service failure will typically take their complaint directly to management, either face-to-face or via written communication. On the other hand, those who are less educated or less frustrated will instead complain to line staff or use corporate guest-comment cards. Some of these findings appear not to support media richness theory, as face-to-face complaints are the richest channel (whether to line staff or management). However, it appears that for this sample of restaurant guests, the idea of taking it to the top (both in person or in writing) is important, particularly for frustrated, educated guests.
food and food service; operations; multi-unit restaurant management; complaint communication; customer satisfaction; Media Richness Theory
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