26: Special Christmas Edition - Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly to Soften Service Failure Evaluations
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In this special edition of The Marketing Lab, I have a quick chat with Associate Professor Josh Newton about his research into how the mere presence of Christmas decorations lead people to soften their evaluations of a personally experienced service failure encounter.

Josh and his colleagues' research was published in the Journal of Service Research in 2018. The abstract is noted below.

Thanks for listening to The Marketing Lab (at Deakin) in 2021, and we look forward to talking to you again in 2022.
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The Marketing Lab (at Deakin) is recorded and produced on the lands of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin nation. We pay our respects to elders past, present, and emerging. We acknowledge Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the First Australians and traditional custodians of the land where we live, work, and learn.
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Newton, J., Wong, J. and Casidy, R., 2018. Deck the Halls With Boughs of Holly to Soften Evaluations of Service Failure. Journal of Service Research, 21(4), pp.389-404.

Abstract
Symbols associated with seasonal religious festivals are periodically displayed by service providers, but do these symbols serve more than just a decorative function? Findings from seven experiments suggest they do. In the presence of such symbols, individuals soften their evaluations of a personally experienced service failure encounter. This effect emerges through the activation of forgiveness but only among those with a religious upbringing and only when the encounter involves service failure (rather than neutral service). The softening of service evaluations in the presence of such symbols is reversed, however, when service failure is observed (rather than directed at the self) and when the recipient of that failure is perceived to be vulnerable. Contextual exposure to symbols associated with seasonal religious festivals therefore presents a double-edged sword for managers; depending upon the service failure recipient, these symbols can harden or soften evaluations of the service failure encounter.



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