How can Firms Stop Negative Word-of-Mouth? A Typology of Online Complainants: An Abstract

Wolfgang Jonas Weitzl, Clemens Hutzinger, Sabine Einwiller

Publikation: Beitrag in Buch/Bericht/TagungsbandKonferenzbeitragBegutachtung


After service failures (e.g., unfriendly staff), dissatisfied consumers increasingly turn to marketer-created social media platforms – like Facebook brand pages – to voice a public online complaint and to achieve their individual and collective complaint goals (e.g., seeking redress, revenge taking, warning other consumers). This research demonstrates that companies can benefit from segmenting online complainants according to their customer-brand relationship status (i.e., affective brand commitment) and the consumer’s initial desire for revenge to improve online complaint handling (i.e., ‘webcare’).

Cluster analysis applied on multi-national survey data from both Germany and the US (n = 812) reveals that marketers have to deal with three major complainant types: (i) ‘Revengeful loyalists’ (i.e., committed, revengeful customers driven mainly by webcare-independent motives and immune to all forms of service recovery efforts) (63%/60%); (ii) ‘Constructive loyalists’ (i.e., committed, cooperative customers with a deep interest to restore the customer-brand relationship, but high recovery expectations) (19%/25%); and (iii) ‘Constructive unattached customers’ (i.e., webcare-receptive customers having weak relational bonds, but no interest to cause harm) (18%/15%).

This study further shows that the three segments differ in respect to various characteristics pertaining the individual and the failure circumstances (e.g., attribution of blame, emotions, complaint history). Besides profiling these segments, this study shows that webcare responses help to mitigate post-webcare negative word-of-mouth when they match the needs of the segment. Besides theoretical contributions, this research also bears some practical implications like demonstrating that about 80% of online complainants have strong pre-webcare social bonds with the brand. This makes webcare efforts particularly demanding: only (highly) accommodative reactions (e.g., a sincere excuse with an explanation and a redress offer) are likely – if at all – to prevent follow-up NWOM among constructive loyalists. These complainants are originally attached ‘brand lovers’ who grant marketers various opportunities to restore the currently disordered customer-brand relationship. However, they have high expectations towards the brand and towards the online recovery episode.
TitelAMSWMC 2019: Enlightened Marketing in Challenging Times
UntertitelProceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
Herausgeber (Verlag)Springer
PublikationsstatusVeröffentlicht - 2020
Extern publiziertJa
Veranstaltung2019 Academy of Marketinc Science (AMS) World Marketing Congress (AMSWMC22) - Edinburgh, Großbritannien/Vereinigtes Königreich
Dauer: 9 Juli 201911 Juli 2019


NameDevelopments in Marketing Science: Proceedings of the Academy of Marketing Science
ISSN (Print)2363-6165
ISSN (elektronisch)2363-6173


Konferenz2019 Academy of Marketinc Science (AMS) World Marketing Congress (AMSWMC22)
Land/GebietGroßbritannien/Vereinigtes Königreich


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