Turning DIY fails into a positive for consumers

August 26, 2022

Jamie Hyodo, Assistant Professor, DAN Department of Management & Organizational Studies

Story and photo by Rob Rombouts

Do it yourself fails can lead to frustration, thrown tools, increased stress, and a few choice words. New research from Jamie Hyodo, Assistant Professor in the DAN Department of Management & Organizational Studies at Western University, and Matthew Hall, from Oregon State University, shows that DIY fails can also lead to positive opportunities for some consumers and businesses.

The article, 'Service Provider to the Rescue: How Firm Recovery of Do-It-Yourself Service Failure Turns Consumers from Competitors to Satisfied Customers', was published in the Journal of Service Research.

For consumers with a growth mindset – those who are looking for learning opportunities or are interested in improving their skills – failing to complete a task and calling in professional service providers creates more positive feelings toward the service provider. The failed DIYer will experience higher customer satisfaction, an increased perception of the service provider’s competence, and will be more likely to call the same service provider back the next time they need help. The customer will also see the service call as a learning opportunity, gaining new understanding of what requirements are needed to complete a task. While they may learn, they are still more likely to call the service provider back.

When the COVID-19 pandemic started, people were unable to call professional service providers, and turned to do-it-yourself solutions. Hyodo and Hall wondered what the implications of these changes might be for businesses.

“Marketers have seen Do-it-yourself approaches as potential competition,” said Hyodo, “but they should see this as a positive. Customers are looking for opportunities to learn and coming in with more experience than might otherwise be expected.”

The benefits of teaching consumers apply outside of those consumers who tried and failed. Businesses could use these findings to adopt models to seek out opportunities to educate consumers.

“More knowledgeable consumers are more appreciative of the knowledge, skills, and tools required,” said Hyodo. “From a business perspective, it legitimizes the price you are charging. Customers can recognize it requires skills and equipment they don’t have and are thus less unhappy to pay.”

Providing information to consumers can also help make consumers more comfortable and empowered to tackle more, easy tasks. These tasks, Hyodo said, are often lower margin jobs for service providers. Providing information on how to do these tasks can remove the hassle of these calls and create better relationships with customers.

“What our work highlights is how much consumers value learning. Positive experiences last, consumers remember and will go back to professional service providers,” said Hyodo. “Service providers are imparting knowledge and potentially skills, but they are also establishing a relationship.”