The Impact of Social Closeness and Complaint-Reaction-Time on Word-of-Mouth

Zofia Hartl, Clemens Hutzinger, Wolfgang Jonas Weitzl

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingsConference contributionpeer-review


Every day, millions of consumers observe online complaints and adapt their purchase-related intentions accordingly. This work sheds light on the role of (a) social closeness to the complainant and (b) reaction time of the recovering company on observing consumers’ inclination to spread negative and positive word-of-mouth (PWOM and NWOM). We ran a 2 (social closeness: close vs. distant) x 2 (reaction time: immediate vs. delayed) between-subjects online experiment with participants observing an online complaint about a COVID-19 related service failure at a fictitious hotel. The results showed that observers show higher NWOM if they perceive high – as compared to low – closeness towards the complaining person as well as if the company has a delayed – as compared to an immediate – reaction. However, these effects do not occur for PWOM. Implications for theory and practice on the diversity of PWOM vs. NWOM are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 2023 EMAC Annual Conference
PublisherEuropean Marketing Academy
Publication statusPublished - 2023
EventEMAC 2023 - University of Souther Denmark, Odense, Denmark
Duration: 23 May 202326 May 2023


ConferenceEMAC 2023


  • Service recovery
  • Recovery
  • Social closeness
  • Social presence
  • Word-of-mouth
  • Negative word-of-mouth
  • Positive word-of-mouth
  • Failure
  • Dissatisfaction


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