Mitigating the negative effects of service failure through customer identification

Jiaqi Song, Jiexian Huang, Yuwei Jiang

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


This study investigated the effect of numerical customer identification (i.e., assigning numbers to identify customers) in the service context on the numbered customers' reaction to service failures. We manipulated numerical identification in different ways (room number, customer number, table number, and order number) and measured customers' tolerance of services across various settings (in a restaurant, a spa, and a café) in four studies. The results demonstrated that after being identified by a number, customers tend to exhibit a higher tolerance of service failures (Studies 1 and 2), and this effect is mediated by a sense of self-dehumanization among the numerically identified customers (Study 3). Moreover, the investigated effect diminished when customers had heightened individuation (e.g., by disclosing personal information) to buffer against dehumanization (Study 4). Our findings contribute to the underexplored research area on customer identification, broaden the numerical research and dehumanization literature in marketing, and bring practical implications for firms to mitigate the negative effects of service failures and decrease customer dissatisfaction.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)715-725
Number of pages11
JournalPsychology and Marketing
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2022


  • customer identification
  • dehumanization
  • dissatisfaction
  • individuation
  • numerical identification
  • service failures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Marketing

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