Harmonious homegoings: alleviating consumer vulnerability through service fluidity and compassion

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Purpose: The purpose of this paper is to explore the role of service flexibility in addressing consumer vulnerability for chronically-traumatized consumers within the funerary context. Design/methodology/approach: Using phenomenological philosophy and a grounded approach, data was collected and analyzed through 12 depth interviews with funeral service providers, coupled with observations and photographs of three second-line funeral processionals. Findings: Study results include the following three primary roles of service providers in supporting chronically-traumatized consumers: the role of service fluidity in addressing trauma, mitigating vulnerability via service providers as community members and alleviating suffering through compassionate service. Service flexibility and value co-creation efforts were executed through an expansive service ecosystem of vendors. Practical implications: When consumers experience vulnerability that demands reliance upon service industries, service providers can intentionally implement fluidity and agility in service design, adopt understanding and altruistic practices, and operate with empathy and compassion to orchestrate mutually-beneficial service outcomes. Social implications: Rooted in transformative service research, providers are advised to consider modifying services to improve well-being and mitigate vulnerability for chronically-traumatized consumers via fluidity, community and compassion. Originality/value: This study contributes originality to the body of service marketing literature by illustrating how service providers alleviate vulnerability for chronically-traumatized consumers through three adaptive service strategies.

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