The Role of Customer Relationship Vulnerability in Service Recovery

Sadrac Cénophat*, Martin Eisend, Tomás Bayón, Alexander Haas

*Corresponding author for this work

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The effectiveness of service recovery initiatives has primarily been explained by exchange theories implicitly assuming that the customer desires beneficial relationships. The present research extends studies in this tradition by emphasizing the crucial role of the customer’s vulnerability. Drawing on crisis theory, we argue that the effectiveness of service recovery initiatives is contingent on customer relationship vulnerability (CRV), which is defined as a customer predisposition to psychological harm in relationships with service firms. The findings show that a full-service recovery is not always possible among vulnerable customers. We discuss the implications for theory and service management practice.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Service Research
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)283-301
Number of pages19
Publication statusPublished - May 2024

Bibliographical note

Published online: 18 August 2023.


  • Vulnerability
  • Marketing initiatives
  • Service failure
  • Service recovery
  • Customer relationship

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