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EMAC 2021 Annual Conference

When technology fails: rage against the machine or self-control? Investigating customers’ negative emotions and coping strategies in artificial intelligence based service failure

Published: May 25, 2021


Giulia Pavone, Toulouse School of Management Research-UMR 5303 CNRS University Toulouse 1 Capitole; Andreas Munzel, Université de Montpellier; Lars Meyer-Waarden, Toulouse School of Management Research -CNRS University Toulouse 1 Capitole


This study investigates the impact of service failures and the recovery management on customers’ anger, frustration and coping strategies, when interacting with an artificial intelligence (AI) based chatbot compared to a human agent. By applying a between subject experimental design in the airline industry, results show that in the same aversive situation, emotional responses differ when the customer is aware of interacting with a chatbot rather than a human. When interacting with a chatbot, customers experience higher frustration due to the lack of perceived power. Moreover, they tend to blame more the firm for the aversive situation, increasing the negative word of mouth. The research suggests that customers tend to adopt confrontative coping strategies both when interacting with a chatbot and with a human to regulate negative emotions. This result is in line with CASA theory, which suggests that individuals apply the same human social rules to interactions with machines.