The Eight Pillars of WOM management: Lessons from a multiple case study

Martin Williams*, Francis Buttle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Although word-of-mouth (WOM) has long been seen as an important influence on customer attitude, intention and behavior, very little is known about how, if at all, organisations manage this phenomenon. This paper reports how a sample of service organisations manages WOM. Using a case study approach, we find that there is a widespread appreciation that WOM influences organisational performance indirectly through its impact on customer acquisition, customer loyalty, and organisational reputation. However, our sampled organisations devote considerably more attention, energy and resources to the mitigation of the effects of negative WOM than to the promotion of positive WOM. Two particular processes dominate in this regard - complaints management and crisis management. We find that positive WOM emanates from many organisational influences including, inter alia, the product or service itself, innovation, service-beyond-expectation, networking, external suppliers and communication practices, including advertising and public relations. We present a new model, dubbed The Eight Pillars of WOM, that can be used to identify, interrogate and manage organisational processes that influence both negative and positive WOM.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)85-92
Number of pages8
JournalAustralasian Marketing Journal
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 2011

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