Does a mere request to recommend have an impact on the customer’s word-of-mouth activity?

Jan Mattsson, Magnus Söderlund

Publikation: KonferencebidragPaperForskningpeer review


Both researchers and practitioners believe that word-of-mouth (WOM) is producing beneficial effects for the firm, and therefore it is no surprise that copious studies have examined factors assumed to boost the customer’s WOM activity. Many such factors have been identified, particularly global evaluation variables such as customer satisfaction, perceived service quality, and perceived value. Several studies have also examined the association between explicitly rewarded WOM – in terms of referral reward programs, or “recommend-a-friend-programs” – and the customer’s WOM activity. Indeed, such program have become ubiquitous.

The point of departure for the present study, however, is the assumption that there may be a more straight-forward and cost-efficient way to achieve customer WOM activity; we assume that merely asking the customer (within the frame of conversations taking place in service encounters) to provide WOM would have a positive impact on WOM activity. We base this assumption on the question-behavior effect identified with regard to questions in questionnaires, on reciprocity theory, and on arguments related to customer benefits that may be evoked by a request for WOM.

This purpose of this study, then, is to examine in empirical terms if a mere request to customers to engage in unrewarded WOM (i.e., a request made by firm representatives in service encounter contexts) would have an impact on the customer’s WOM activity.

Our empirical data were collected with a questionnaire to customers in the private banking sector, and our main result was that a straight-forward request to customers to provide WOM was positively associated with both WOM behavior (in terms of the number of persons talked to) and WOM intentions. Thus, a mere request for WOM seems to make WOM activity more likely to happen. In addition, we found that receiving WOM requests was not negatively associated with overall evaluations, such as customer satisfaction, which indicates that the potential for negative effects of making the request seems to be low.
Publikationsdato2 jun. 2015
StatusUdgivet - 2 jun. 2015
Begivenhed23rd Nordic Academy of Management Conference: Business in Society - Copenhagen Business School, København, Danmark
Varighed: 12 aug. 201514 aug. 2015


Konference23rd Nordic Academy of Management Conference
LokationCopenhagen Business School

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