Improving Customer-Brand Relationships: A Study on Meeting Customer Expectations Through Complaints

Amalie Mahler Jensen

Student thesis: Master thesis


This thesis study how complaints on Facebook can help organizations from the telecommunications industry improve their customer-brand relationships. The telecommunications industry is experiencing a large number of dissatisfied customers and a high number of complaints compared to other industries and after having observed how organizations within this industry care for their customer relationships, it awakened an interest in exploring this phenomenon more closely and how organizations can understand and fulfill expectations in their customer relationships. The research method of this thesis is a multiple case study based on twelve case actors who have complained to either 3 Danmark, Yousee or Telenor on their Facebook page. The purpose of this case study is to build a general understanding of a phenomenon that straddle across cases, although the cases may vary in detail. To do this, the main theory applied is Fournier’s theory about consumers and their brands and supplementary theories from the psychology of person-to-person relationships are employed. The study consists of four sub-analyzes, to which the complaints are first organized and then analyzed. The findings of the analysis showcase that all complainants are dissatisfied because the brand is unable to perform as a partner in the relationship, whether it is not delivering the product or service as promised or mistreating the customer. Furthermore, the majority of complainants used their complaint as a way of repairing the relationship and remain involved with the brand, and is an indicator of a strong, committed and long-term relationship. There appeared a general tendency that the organizations did not know which kind of interaction and relationship the complainants wanted, which resulted in greater dissatisfaction. The analysis shows that when dealing with complaints, the organizations can benefit from taking the individual circumstances stated by the complainants into account, which would help meet the customer’s expectations and thus achieve a better relationship. It can be concluded that five types of relationships exist in this study, and the relationships should be managed accordingly. Committed partnerships must be managed with an individualized approach, marriages of convenience with a high level of predictability and reliability, casual friends by convincing the customers of the value of the brand, enslavements and enmities by ending the relationship quickly. The knowledge produced can be used as a tool to give organizations insight into the types of relationships they have with customers and the underlying mechanisms and factors that affect the relationship. Furthermore, a deeper understanding of complaints can be obtained. It can be demanding and impractical for organizations to document and analyze any complaint they receive on Facebook, but it is possible to search for specific markers of relationships and use them actively in complaint handling in order to care for the customer relationships.

EducationsMSc in Business Administration and Organizational Communication, (Graduate Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages82