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New research shows that preparing customers for the worst may be the best solution for maintaining customer satisfaction.

Professor Benjamin Quaiser’s “customer inoculation” method found that proactively preparing customers for disappointment can bypass the element of disappointment when a customer’s experience is less than ideal.

The research, carried out at ESMT European School of Management and Technology in Berlin, pushes companies to acknowledge that by the time the damage is done, it’s too late and the customer perception will be flawed.

The inoculation method was proven to be a success in a test carried out in the baggage claim area of an airport. Customers, who hold positive perceptions of the airline services, experienced delays of up to an hour. The airline announced these potential delays in advance to a select number of people with the announcement; “Unfortunately, long waiting times at the baggage claim area cannot be eliminated completely, especially during peak travel times at busy airports”.

The advanced warning gave these customers an opportunity to build defence strategies without their perception of the service being tarnished.

Of 1353 customers in the study, 433 experienced delays with their baggage, and a significantly higher level of satisfaction with the airline service was evident from those who received the announcement in advance.

Benjamin Quaiser explains, “By adapting customer inoculation companies will be acknowledging that occasional flaws in service are inevitable and just apologising is not a viable solution. Through creating a proactive approach customers have an opportunity to adapt to their situation as opposed to relying on the company to resolve their faults.”


For more information regarding the “customer inoculation” research or to arrange an interview with Professor Quaiser, contact: Rochelle Gayle at: or call +44(0)1582 790 711

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