Beyond exit and voice: developing an integrated taxonomy of consumer complaining behaviour

Doga Istanbulluoglu, Sheena Leek, Isabelle Szmigin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Citations (Scopus)
604 Downloads (Pure)


Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to help researchers and practitioners to understand and respond to consumer complaining behaviour (CCB) by developing a taxonomy that addresses the inadequacies of previous consumer complaining taxonomies and models, simplifies the terminology and covers both traditional and new ways of complaining.

Design/methodology/approach: Based on a systematic review of 210 studies, a concept-centric analysis of CCB literature was conducted. Seminal taxonomies and models of CCB are revisited and a critical evaluation of these is presented.

Findings: An integrated taxonomy of CCB is proposed which enhances understanding of complaining in the 21st century by clarifying the ambiguities and overlapping constructs in the previous taxonomies.

Research implications: The integrated taxonomy of CCB eliminates the ambiguity of previous approaches and introduces more coherent constructs in relation to the theory of CCB. The taxonomy comprehensively defines and describes the range of complaining actions to provide a complete framework. As a result, our understanding of CCB is developed through a focus on complaining actions, their characteristics and what these actions afford companies in their attempts to deal with complaints (i.e. audience, amount of information available).

Practical implications: Practitioners can use the integrated taxonomy of CCB to structure their complaint handling processes in order to obtain maximum customer feedback to improve their product/service and to retain customers through satisfactorily addressing their complaints.

Originality/value: Although the literature on consumer complaining is mature, this is the first paper that offers a comprehensive taxonomy that explains CCB while addressing new developments in computer-mediated-communications.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1109-1128
JournalEuropean Journal of Marketing
Issue number5/6
Publication statusPublished - 8 May 2017


  • Complaints
  • CCB
  • dissatisfaction
  • Voice
  • Exit


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