Managers seeking to manage customer word-of-mouth (WOM) behavior need to understand how different attitudinal drivers (e.g. satisfaction, positive and negative emotion, commitment, and self-brand connection) relate to a range of WOM behaviors. They also need to know how the effects of these drivers are moderated by customer characteristics (e.g. gender, age, income, country). The paper aims to discuss these issues.
To investigate these issues a built a large-scale multi-national database was created that includes attitudinal drivers, customer characteristics, and a full range of WOM behaviors, involving both the sending and receiving of both positive and negative WOM, with both strong and weak ties. The combination of sending-receiving, positive-negative and strong ties-weak ties results in a typology of eight distinct WOM behaviors. The investigation explores the drivers of those behaviors, and their moderators, using a hierarchical Bayes model in which all WOM behaviors are simultaneously modeled.
Among the many important findings uncovered are: the most effective way to drive all positive WOM behaviors is through maximizing affective commitment and positive emotions; minimizing negative emotions and ensuring that customers are satisfied lowers all negative WOM behaviors; all other attitudinal drivers have lower or even mixed effects on the different WOM behaviors; and customer characteristics can have a surprisingly large impact on how attitudes affect different WOM behaviors.
These findings have important managerial implications for promotion (which attitudes should be stimulated to produce the desired WOM behavior) and segmentation (how should marketing efforts change, based on segments defined by customer characteristics).
This research points to the myriad of factors that enhance positive and reduce negative word-of-mouth, and the importance of accounting for customer heterogeneity in assessing the likely impact of attitudinal drivers on word-of-mouth behaviors.
The authors would like to thank Katrien Verleye, Dries Benoit and the members of the Center for Service Intelligence (Ghent University) for their insightful comments on earlier versions of the paper. This work was carried out using the STEVIN Supercomputer Infrastructure at Ghent University, funded by Ghent University, the Flemish Supercomputer Center (VSC), the Hercules Foundation and the Flemish Government – department EWI.
Keiningham, T.L., Rust, R.T., Lariviere, B., Aksoy, L. and Williams, L. (2018), "A roadmap for driving customer word-of-mouth", Journal of Service Management, Vol. 29 No. 1, pp. 2-38. https://doi.org/10.1108/JOSM-03-2017-0077Download as .RIS
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