Publications and research projects

Handling consumer messages on social networking sites: Customer service or privacy infringement?

Firms increasingly use social network sites to reach out to customers and proactively intervene with observed consumer messages. Despite intentions to enhance customer satisfaction by extending customer service, sometimes these interventions are received negatively by consumers. We draw on privacy regulation theory to theorize how proactive customer service interventions with consumer messages on social network sites may evoke feelings of privacy infringement. Subsequently we use privacy calculus theory to propose how these perceptions of privacy infringement, together with the perceived usefulness of the intervention, in turn drive customer satisfaction. In two experiments, we find that feelings of privacy infringement associated with proactive interventions may explain why only reactive interventions enhance customer satisfaction. Moreover, we find that customer satisfaction can be modelled through the calculus of the perceived usefulness and feelings of privacy infringement associated with an intervention. These findings contribute to a better understanding of the impact of privacy concerns on consumer behavior in the context of firm-consumer interactions on social network sites, extend the applicability of privacy calculus theory, and contribute to complaint and compliment management literature. To practitioners, our findings demonstrate that feelings of privacy are an element to consider when handling consumer messages on social media, but also that privacy concerns may be overcome if an intervention is perceived as useful enough. This work is forthcoming in the International Journal of Electronic Commerce:

Demmers, J., Van Dolen, W.M., & Weltevreden, J.W.J. (2017). Handling consumer messages on social networking sites: Customer service or privacy infringement? International Journal of Electronic Commerce.

When red means GO!

Previous research has established red as the color of compliance, for example with warnings, social norms, and instructions. When applying red as a background color to the website of the Dutch child helpline in an attempt to reduce prank chatting, however, we found that red had the exact opposite effect; prank chatting incidence increased rather than decreased when we changed the color of the background to red. We decided to follow up on this finding and conduct a series of experiments. We found that the color red induces non-compliant behavior in people with “sensation seeking” personality types. Hence, the widespread use of the color red to signal danger, warn people, or stop unwanted behavior may actually be counter-effective for high sensation-seekers. This has important implications for the widespread use of red to induce compliance with stop signs and warnings, because high sensation-seekers are more likely to ignore these signals in the first place. Red may only exacerbate rather than mitigate this inclination. This work has been published in the Journal of Consumer Psychology:

Mehta, R., Demmers, J., Van Dolen, W.M., & Weinberg, C.B. (2016). When red means go : Non-normative effects of red under sensation seeking. Journal of Consumer Psychology.