van Noort, G. & Willemsen, L. M. (2012). Online damage control: The effects of proactive versus reactive webcare interventions in consumer-generated and brand-generated platforms. Journal of Interactive Marketing, 26(3), 131-140. DOI: 10.1016/j.intmar.2011.07.001

Abstract: Web 2.0 has empowered consumers to voice complaints with reduced costs (physical and psychological), and to share these with a multitude of other consumers on the Internet. As a public phenomenon, online complaints have a negative impact on consumers’ evaluations of brands that are under attack in online complaints. By means of an experiment, we study the most effective means for companies to counter complaints as expressed in negative electronic word of mouth (NWOM). The results show that negative brand evaluations engendered by NWOM can be attenuated by webcare interventions dependent on type of strategy (proactive vs. reactive) and platform used (consumer-generated vs. brand-generated blog). This effect appeared to be mediated by conversational human voice. The findings are discussed in the light of practical implications for online complaint management.