"Customers are more likely to forgive firms when service
failures are associated with religion, no matter what
religion was used in the scenarios: Christianity, Judaism or Islam."
While companies like Hobby Lobby and Chick-fil-A are at the forefront of debate over the religious rights of employers, a new study by a Grand Valley State University researcher shows religious affiliation can safeguard companies against negative reactions to store policies.
Assistant professor of marketing
at Grand Valley State University
The research, led by Kelly Cowart, assistant professor of marketing at Grand Valley State University, examines the effect of a firm's religious association on customer perceptions of the firm, especially when a service failure occurs. A service failure is defined as limited hours of operation or a temporary store closing.
Cowart said the current findings indicate that religious affiliations may buffer against some of the negative fallout that ensues in the wake of a service failure, as consumers do not penalize such firms as heavily as those without an affiliation. "More importantly, the findings suggest that a religious affiliation can garner favor even when the religion is not the dominant religion in society," she said.
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"Results from both studies revealed that customers are more likely to forgive firms when service failures are associated with religion, regardless of attitudes toward the religious group," said Cowart. "The results were similar no matter what religion was used in the scenarios: Christianity, Judaism or Islam."
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Story Source: Materials provided by Grand Valley State University. Kelly O. Cowart, Edward Ramirez, Michael K. Brady. Religious affiliation: buffering negative reactions to service failures. Journal of Services Marketing, 2014