To Err Is Human(-oid): How Do Consumers React to Robot Service Failure and Recovery?

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167 Scopus citations


Robots are the next wave in service technology; however, this advanced technology is not perfect. This research examines how social perceptions regarding the warmth and competence of service robots influence consumer reactions to service failures and recovery efforts by robots. We argue that humanoid (vs. nonhumanoid) service robots are more strongly associated with warmth (whereas competence does not differ). This tendency to expect greater warmth from humanoid robots has important consequences for service firms: (i) consumers are more dissatisfied due to lack of warmth following a process failure caused by a humanoid (vs. nonhumanoid; Study 1); (ii) humanoids (but not nonhumanoids) can recover a service failure by themselves via sincere apology, restoring perceptions of warmth (Study 2A); (iii) humanoids (but not nonhumanoids) can also effectively provide explanations as a recovery tactic (Study 2B); and, importantly, (iv) human intervention can be used to mitigate dissatisfaction following inadequate recovery by a nonhumanoid robot (Study 3), supporting the notion of human-robot collaboration. Taken together, this research offers theoretical implications for robot anthropomorphism and practical implications for firms employing service robots.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)354-371
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Service Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Information Systems
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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