Friday, October 07, 2005

Positive v. Negative WOM: An Exploratory Study

Jill Sweeney from University of Western Australia conducted a study to learn about similarities and differences between positive and negative WOM. They had six focus groups with 54 different participants providing positive and negative experiences with WOM (critical incident technique).

Here's some of her findings:

- Positive WOM was more associated with cognitions, whereas negative WOM was more associated with emotions.

- Positive WOM is driven by service quality (whethere people had a good experience with the quality of the service received).

- Dissatisfaction stimulates negative WOM, but there was a feeling of satisfaction after making the comment.

Negative WOM spread more quickly initially, but also dissipates more quickly than positive WOM. Negative WOM was also seen to be more powerful in shaping other people's views.

This is the first phase of three studies, with a small sample size, but there are two key points to take-away that support findings of earlier research: Have a good product or service to generate positive WOM, and when there's a negative experience, give people outlets to vent their dissatisfaction early on.