How implicit mindset influences consumers’ perception of company engagement with product complaints online

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Reed College of Media


Consumer complaints posted on social media can quickly escalate a problem to become a crisis for a company. Although many companies engage with consumer complaints on various social media platforms, understanding of the mechanisms underlying consumer perceptions of such engagement remains limited. Thus, we examined how company engagement and consumers’ implicit mindset (i.e., implicit beliefs about the nature of human traits) influences consumer attributions regarding complaints posted online. Through an experiment (N = 356 participants) we showed that (a) company engagement with consumer complaints led to positive responses, potentially reducing the likelihood that negative events will become crisis situations, and (b) this effect was mediated by consumer perception of company responsibility. Further, the mediated relationship between company engagement and outcome of responding to complaints through the degree of perceived company responsibility was contingent on the consumers’ mindset (i.e., a moderated mediation effect), showing the importance of consumers’ implicit mindset to online complaint behaviors.

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