HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège
HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège

Delivering bad news to customers through digital channels : the role of smiley

Dessy, Marie ULiège
Promotor(s) : Delcourt, Cécile ULiège
Date of defense : 3-Sep-2019/10-Sep-2019 • Permalink :
Title : Delivering bad news to customers through digital channels : the role of smiley
Author : Dessy, Marie ULiège
Date of defense  : 3-Sep-2019/10-Sep-2019
Advisor(s) : Delcourt, Cécile ULiège
Committee's member(s) : Hazee, Simon ULiège
Martens, Carmen ULiège
Language : English
Discipline(s) : Business & economic sciences > Marketing
Institution(s) : Université de Liège, Liège, Belgique
Degree: Master en sciences de gestion, à finalité spécialisée en Marketing
Faculty: Master thesis of the HEC-Ecole de gestion de l'Université de Liège


[fr] Bad news occurring because of unexpected events is part of any organization’s life. The use of digital communication has become very common in daily organizations-customers interactions and it allows service providers to deliver bad news through digital channels. Nowadays, most of service providers-customers interactions take place via e-mail or SMS. Thus, service providers are required to turn their attention to how delivering bad news while ensuring customers’ negative emotions do not get worse and while maintaining customers’ satisfaction. Therefore, communication between service providers and customers is a crucial aspect of providing an adequate customer experience.
During face-to-face service encounters, non-verbal cues play a significant role in communication meaning and believability. Visual cues constitute subtle meaning of verbal messages. However, visual cues such as smiles cannot be displayed through digital media, and smileys are used in digital communication as a replacement for nonverbal and visual cues to express emotions and feelings and to transmit emotional information.
The focus of this research is transaction-specific. Smileys are being studied during the online service encounter, as a determinant of customers’ satisfaction, customers’ negative emotions and customers’ perceptions of employees’ performance. This research also provides information about customers’ perceptions of e-mail and SMS as digital channels to deliver bad news.
The results revealed no effects on customers’ negative emotions, customers’ satisfaction and customers’ perceptions of employee’s performance. Smileys’ impacts on customers’ reactions seem to not be strong enough to overpass the message’s negative content. However, this study shows the use of SMS differs from e-mails regarding customers’ satisfaction of the medium.



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  • Dessy, Marie ULiège Université de Liège > Master sc. gest., à fin.


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