Saturday, April 07, 2007

I insist, no really I insist!

-->When consumers participate on a corporate discussion board concerning topics about the company or a particular product, company’s traditionally harvest comments with positive remarks, and tend to rebuttal or delete negative commentary. In some rare cases a company will not get involved and leave the negative comments within the messaging string so that the discussion boards remains authentic.

As consumers are becoming more educated about WOM, they become more defensive and particular about the sources where they trust WOM and the places they don’t. Corporations are beginning to realize the importance of consumer-generated material, and the qualms of these consumers. They are becoming more aware and responsive to building channels where consumers can communicate their sense of concern or excitement about certain topics. Efforts to preserving a comfortable and trustworthy environment within these discussion boards remain in the company’s best interest.

It is obvious how negative comments within a message board can affect a company’s success. However, it is important to manage negative comments as well as managing overly positive comments in order to preserve the perceived integrity of the discussion board. An overly positive comment from a genuine consumer might be perceived by the greater population as one that was derived from and internal corporate source. This realization might cause a backlash against a discussion board due to the perception of being involved in a stealth initiative. Consumers are more likely to trust discussion boards that cast a neutral balance of positives and negatives. The effect of overly positive comments threatens corporation’s discussion boards integrity and it is important for companies to manage these strings of dialog in order to preserve the validity of a source.
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9 comments:

Taslim said...

Yes, corporations really have to use their discretion before responding to a negative WOM post, and the notes from Dr. Carl's lecture about how to respond to NWOM attest to this.

In this case, are you referring to a message board run BY the company the comments are about? Or on an outside message board? I think in each situation, the level of attention needed would be much different...

kfalcs said...

I also think that a positive comment is usually left by someone who doesn't wish to be anonymous. So even if the comment may seem fake, part of what is so valuable about message boards, is that respondents often provide a way to be reached, especially when they feel passionate about a product or service. In speaking directly with this individual, it should become clear that their voice is genuine.

kitch24 said...

Again, I am exploring the idea of the perception of posts. Although most discussion board members do not remain anonymous, other views might perceive that they are hired by a corporation. Most people won't go through the additional trouble to directly contact a source in order to determine if they are real or not. Most people could just be turned off immediately.

Anne said...

I think it's also important for companies to realize that consumers don't expect them to be perfect. Therefore, a negative post isn't necessarily the end of the world. In fact, it provides the opportunity for a company to reverse damage and build a stronger bond with their customers. Consumers are generally more impressed with a company who can handle a negative situation rather than a company who hasn't proved their customer service capabilities.

Holly said...

Recently, when I wanted to buy a new suitcase, I went online to read some reviews and encountered a new problem: too many consumer review options. The site I visited let consumers review each product by giving it a number of stars, saying whether or not they would buy it again and providing comments. While it is helpful to see what others think, I found that it made my choice too difficult when trying to compare products. How was I to decide which product was better when one had more stars, but more negative comments, yet was had more "likely to buy again" points. Additionally, I was taking other things into consideration like cost, size and weight. The bottom line for me: next time I would rather just walk into a store and go with the one that looks best to me. Too many reviews and review options can pose to be overwhelming for the average customer, which is something companies should keep in mind.

Walter Carl said...

That's interesting Holly about information overload from too many peer reviews. A big advantage of WOM is to help filter information and reduce uncertainty and information overload. Your post suggests that even though information is coming from peers it can still be overwhelming.

Psomas said...

My personal view of this is that, as long as what the poster is saying is true and they aren't trolling the board, their comments should be left up. While nobody wants to see negative comments littering their boards, it allows for authenticity and makes the posters more likely to trust the board and view it as a valuable resource. People are far less likely to frequent a message board if they think it is being run by a bunch of company shills who don't allow for honest discussion.

Pik Ting said...

I agree that overly positive comments might cause a backlash. Though if a genuine consumer is really passionate about the product and would like to leave an overly positive comment, I am afraid that there is little /nothing the company could do about it. It is also hard for a company to obtain a neutral balance between positive and negative comments as for doing so will interfere the authenticity. I think what we could suggest here is the critical ability that viewers need to determine the authenticity of the comment (they could always check out the other websites for additional references).

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