Purpose: The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, to determine the role of emotions in customer evaluation of service failures; and second, to examine how customers’ emotion regulation impacts customer satisfaction and behavioural responses (e.g. repurchase intentions and negative word-of-mouth). Design/methodology/approach: A scenario-based survey was used to elicit responses in a hospitality setting. Structural equation modelling and hierarchical regression analysis were used to test the proposed hypotheses. Findings: Results show that both positive and negative emotions mediate the relationship between perceived injustice and customer satisfaction. The emotion regulation of customers through suppression and reappraisal influences the effects of satisfaction on both negative word-of-mouth and repurchase intentions. Practical implications: This study advances service managers’ understanding of customer experience during service failure by demonstrating how emotion regulation influences customer response behaviours. With a better understanding of customers’ emotion regulation strategies, managers and frontline employees can more effectively develop and execute recovery strategies which adapt to customer emotions while eliciting more satisfying outcomes. Originality/value: This research is one of the first to examine the moderating role of customers’ emotion regulation strategies in determining their behavioural responses. Conducted in the hospitality services context, this study provides support for relationships among perceived injustice, customer emotions, emotion regulation, customer satisfaction, negative word-of-mouth and repurchase intentions.