Managing negative word-of-mouth: an exploratory study

Martin Williams, Francis Buttle*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

29 Citations (Scopus)


Abstract: This exploratory study investigates how executive-level and functional managers in three large organisations understand and respond to negative word-of-mouth (NWOM). The findings, based principally on analysis of 54 interviews over 3 years, show that organisations devote far more resources to the management of NWOM than they do to the promotion of positive word-of-mouth. Marketing and other customer-facing work groups play varied roles in organisational response to NWOM, which often involves complaints management and crisis management. We find that senior management, marketing, sales, advertising, PR and contact-centre staff all have different fears about NWOM and therefore respond to it in various ways. Our recommendations for better management of NWOM stress three points – leadership, organisational readiness and public relations management.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1423-1447
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Marketing Management
Issue number13-14
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2014


  • word-of-mouth
  • negative word-of-mouth
  • WOM
  • complaints management
  • customer relationship management
  • crisis management
  • issue management
  • PR
  • public relations
  • case study


Dive into the research topics of 'Managing negative word-of-mouth: an exploratory study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this