This study aims to investigate the effects of inconsistent word‐of‐mouth on service quality perception and purchase intention during the service encounter.
A pilot study and a subsequent formal experiment with six scenarios were designed to test the inconsistent word‐of‐mouth effect. Participants were recruited from a major university located in Southern China.
The results revealed that service quality perception and purchase intention were influenced more by the final word‐of‐mouth event than by the initial one and were more favorable with more positive word‐of‐mouth events.
Further research should study more factors such as source effect of word‐of‐mouth and knowledge about the service in investigating the inconsistent word‐of‐mouth effect on service quality perception and purchase intention.
Consumers' service quality judgment and purchase intention seem to be highly driven by the most recent word‐of‐mouth activities. Thus, to stimulate consumption levels, companies can use creative and innovative promotion tools for consumers to talk about their service and elicit consumers' purchase interest. Other tools such as involving consumers in delivering the service and developing referral incentive schemes are also beneficial to establish positive word‐of‐mouth.
This paper adds value to the word‐of‐mouth literature by studying the inconsistent word‐of‐mouth effect on consumers' perceptions of service quality and purchase intention towards the service, which lacks strong conceptual and empirical evidence.
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