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INTRODUCTION

Motivation for this topic

The introduction of the internet has changed the way consumers communicate.  The last decade the popularity of online forums, blogs, social networking sites, instant messages and online opinion communities increased enormously. People spread electronic word of mouth (eWOM) and spread thus their opinions and experiences with their co-web-users. Many researchers reported the importance of eWOM. EWOM can be seen as a strategic marketing tool to retain existing customers and attract new ones (Chang, Tsai, Wong, Wang and Cho, 2015). Sharing your personal experience on the internet will influence the decision-making process of other consumers (Goldsmith and Horwitz, 2006). Mostly dissatisfied consumers will easily share their opinions or frustrations on goods, services or companies. The complaints, for instance about a lack of service, in social media has risen and this makes consumers extremely powerful (Labrecque et al. 2013). Consumers are seeking for other consumers to share the opinions and experiences. Many studies have examined the way companies should respond to this eWOM and in most cases the negative word of mouth in social media.

In this paper the Dutch railway company will be examined. The Nederlandse Spoorwegen (NS) is the passenger railway operator of the Netherlands since 1938. Although this company is the only provider of the service to transport travellers from A to B, this company had to endure many negativities lately. Recently NS revealed a new website and a lot of complaints were posted on social media (Telegraaf, 2016).  Since 2010, a trend of posted texts is discovered on especially Twitter.  In the beginning, travellers posted something about the weather or their coffee. But a couple of years ago travellers started to share their frustrations about the performance of the NS. Travellers started to actually speak to the NS by sending tweets to their Twitter account (@NS_online). In 2010 the NS had to handle 2000 tweets a month that turned into 2500 tweets a day by now (Elsevier, 2015). The Dutch railway company is one of the biggest players in the number of followers on their Twitter account in the Netherlands, with approximately 170.000 followers. Travellers are mostly dissatisfied with the performance of the NS. Most of the times travellers express themselves on Twitter or Facebook about delay of trains, dirty wagons or overcrowded trains.  #FAIL was a frequently used and popular hashtag to indicate NS's bad performances. The passages in the de appendix shows some examples of negative eWOM about the performance of NS. Most of the times NS gives a funny reaction to these negative eWOM, as displayed in the Appendix 2.

The goal of this paper is to find out, based on existing literature, if the NS respond in the right way on the negative electronic word of mouth on social networking sites.  The NS is a relevant company for the reason that the NS is a monopolist in the train market. Based upon the previous described problem the following research question will be examined:

‘Which response strategy reduces negative electronic word of mouth for the NS on social networking sites?'

In order to answer on this research question and launch a recommendation towards NS the following sub questions will be answered:

1. What is the power of electronic word of mouth?

2. What are motives for engaging in electronic word of mouth?

3. What kind of response strategies do exist?

First of all, the concept of word of mouth will be explained. On the basis of declaring the power of WOM. From that point the electronic version of WOM will be elaborated. To understand why people talk online, the motives of consumers to engage in eWOM will be distinguished. Subsequently, several response strategies, which companies can use to respond on the eWOM will be discussed. The last section of this paper is to come up with helpful recommendations and best implementation of a response strategy for NS.

THEORETICAL FINDINGS

WHAT IS THE POWER OF ELECTRONIC WORD OF MOUTH?

Word of mouth (WOM) can be seen as one of the most influential factors that have impact on consumers' decisions in all stages: from product awareness to product choice to in the end evaluations after the initial purchase. So WOM can be seen as a critical point in marketing (Daugherty and Hoffman, 2014). In order to figure out which response strategy NS should use, traditional WOM and then eWOM should be defined and elaborated.

There are numerous ways to define the concept of Word of Mouth (WOM). In the article of Daugherty and Hoffman (2014) they defined Word of Mouth (WOM) as: “person-to-person communication between a receiver and a communicator whom the receiver perceives as non-commercial regarding a brand, product, or service”. These offline services which are spread by the communicator using their mouth, is interesting for companies. The services can affect new customer acquisitions, increase sales or product-use decisions. WOM is influential, especially amongst consumer groups such as students. College students are sceptical of traditional advertising and connected with each other. WOM is distinguished in literature in a positive or negative form. On the one hand Positive Word of Mouth (PWOM) communication contains favourable reviews of a product or service. On the other hand, Negative Word of Mouth (NWOM) discourage consumers to buy or use a product or service by giving unfavourable reviews (Daugherty and Hoffman, 2014). According to Keller, Luo and Bhattacharya (2006) spreading NWOM can damage the overall brand equity and corporate image. In many cases NWOM will influence other consumers more than PWOM in the offline but overall the online way.

So when Web 2.0 was introduced the online version of word of mouth became popular. Electronic word of mouth (eWOM) can be defined as: “any positive or negative statements made by potential, actual, or former customers about a product of company, which are made available to a multitude of people and institutions via the Internet” (Henning–Thurau et al., 2004, p. 39)

Wang and Rodgers (2010) add both the emotional as the structural aspects of eWOM to this definition. They proposed the definition of eWOM as follow: “any degree or combination of positive, negative, or neutral comments, recommendations, or any statements about companies, brands, product, or services discussed or shared among consumers in digital or electronic formats'.

According to Wang and Rodgers (2010) eWOM can be positive or negative but they also applied a third dimension to eWOM by their definition. EWOM can be a combination of positive and negative opinion's or can be fully neutral. In the last case a reviewer writes only facts about the service or product without giving their opinion.

EWOM belongs to Consumer Generated Content (CGC) and can be distinguished in two types. On one hand the information-oriented context of eWOM, which means that consumers use eWOM to review or give feedback on products or services on websites.  On the other hand, the emotionally oriented context of eWOM. Consumers are more focussed on sharing their opinions and giving comments with their friends and family instead of giving feedback. They will do this on discussion boards, online communities and social network sites, such as Facebook or Twitter (Wang and Rodgers, 2010).  Because the NS have to deal with lots of NWOM on mainly Facebook and Twitter, there can be stated that NS have to deal with the more emotionally oriented context of eWOM. Travellers are spreading their frustrations for instance about the overcrowded trains or just another delay.

In contrast to the traditional offline way of WOM, the electronic word of mouth can be exposed to a large and limited number of consumers. Consumers can easily and fast spread their opinions about the product, service or company (Lee and Song, 2010). But consumers have to be aware of the fact that their statements and opinions will be live forever and reach an infinite number of receivers by engaging eWOM (Godes and Mayzlin, 2004). EWOM appears in several types. The study of King, Racherla and Bush (2014) showed on the basis of previous research that eWOM can occur in discussion forums, UseNet groups, product reviews, blogs and social networking sites (SNS). This paper will focus on particular social networking sites, because the target group are discussing the NS om Facebook and Twitter. This is easy going and fast way to express frustration in a split second.

As mentioned above, eWOM is a helpful tool in the marketing mix. To conduct eWOM in the marketing mix properly, companies need to understand how and why these consumers make use of their opinions and information online in the first place. On top, companies need to figure out why these consumers explain their selves on especially these online social networks (Wang and Rodgers, 2010).  

The purpose of this research paper is to come up with an appropriate response strategy for the NS on social networking sites. Social networking sites let web users build and keep a network of other web users, mostly friends, for social contact. It is typical for social networking sites to identify users by a personal profile. Profiles will mostly contain photos, list of interest, music preferences and links to their connections or friends. These different social networking sites compose levels of privacy, which implies what details is showed for people you do not connected with (Trusov, Bucklin and Pauwels, 2009). The NWOM about the performances of the NS are posted on the Twitter and Facebook. Twitter users update their profile with short announcements called ‘tweets' with a limit of 140 characters. For other web-users, and hence for firms, it is able to respond easily. In contrast to Facebook where complainers are writing their frustrations on the brand page of the company itself. These ‘post' contain often long narrative stories.

Complaint is a specific form of NWOM communication. The traditional NWOM is focused to make a statement of the performance of the company, while a complaint is made to achieve a certain goal. In this research paper the comprehensive form of NWOM will be examined, but also the compliant mechanism will be figure out (Einwiller and Steilen, 2015).

Effects of negative Word of Mouth

Negative electronic word of mouth can be troublesome to firms. Not only consumers' perception towards a product, service or company will be affected, but the complaints are available forever and accessible to an infinite number of readers. Understanding the effect of NWOM communication is very crucial. The way consumers communicate, in other words communicating on social network sites, have changed by the launch of web 2.0. Besides, the way how consumers make their decisions, changed also through the internet, and their decisions are mostly based on what they have read on social networking sites. Understanding the impact of NWOM allow companies to better judge which NWOM could be more damaging (Funches, Foxx, Park and Kim, 2010).

Previous research showed that NWOM does not only affect consumers' brand trust, but NWOM will also affect the decision making process of consumers.  Additionally, to the harm of brand trust and the purchase decision making process, NWOM affect the attitude and loyalty towards a brand. The attendance of NWOM will lead to a decrease of purchase intention. The affected company can expect that the sales of the product or service will decline. Web-users may switch to another brand or company after reading negative comments online, because their opinion about the company turned into negativity after the negative comment. For PWOM is the opposite right (Gruen, Osmonbekov and Czaplewski, 2006).

WHAT ARE MOTIVES FOR ENGAGING IN ELECTRONIC WORD OF MOUTH?

To conduct eWOM as a helpful tool in the marketing mix it is strongly recommended to discover why people talk online. Based on the literature of Sundaram, Mitra and Webster (1998) eight key motivations will explain why consumers engage in traditional WOM behaviour. First of all, four motives for engaging in positive word of mouth (PWOM) is examined. To start with altruism, which means that consumers engage in WOM behaviour in order to help others to make a better decision. Secondly, product involvement, a consumer feels excited after their purchase and need to share their feelings in a positive or negative way. Thirdly, self enhancement, negative or positive experiences will be shared with others to enhance their image and tagging their selves as expert and thus intelligent shopper. In the fourth place, consumers engage in WOM to help the company. This antecedent is subtracted from altruism. But in this case patronizing the company is more valuable than the receiver of WOM.

To participate in NWOM Sanduram et al. (1998) come up again with four categories. Altruism is again a motive for consumers to engage in NWOM. In contrast to PWOM, in this context altruism means that consumers warn others about negative consequences of a service or product. Secondly, Sanduram et al. (1998) noted that anxiety reduction justifies their NWOM participation. Consumers share their negative experiences with others to express their anger, anxiety, frustration and hope, by sharing their NWOM communication, this will be eased. Thirdly, vengeance, this is the opposite of helping the company. Consumers discourage others not to patronize a company. Lastly, advice seeking, consumers are looking for a way to resolve their problems, after their negative experiences. They share their experiences in order to obtain some advice to resolve their problem.

Based on the literature of the motives of traditional WOM, Henning–Thurau et al. (2004) defined a total of six motives for engaging in eWOM communication, resulting in the following distinction: venting negative feelings, positive self-enhancement, concern for other consumers, helping the company, social benefits, economic incentives. The first four motives can strongly relate to the motives of Sanduram et al. (1998). Venting negative feelings is equivalent to product involvement, vengeance, anxiety reduction and is about a strong feeling that a consumer wants to talk about a product or service, positively or negatively. Positive self-enhancement is linked to self-enhancement of Sanduram et al. (1998) That shows that consumers are experts and seek for attention with their comments. Concern for others and helping the company by engaging in eWOM is reflected by the motives of Sanduram et al. (1998).

In the study of Henning–Thurau et al. (2004), two additional motives of online WOM are identified. By engaging in eWOM consumers will experience social benefits, this is the enjoyment they experience by writing online comments and to signify their participation and online presence. The last motive for engaging in eWOM is the economic incentives, which means that consumers will get direct economic compensation by posting online reviews. A company is paying a fee in exchange for a favourable review. In the study of Henning–Thurau et al. (2004) is proven that the motives social benefits, economic incentives, concern for others and extra self-enhancement are the primary reasons for consumers to publish their comments and experiences online.  With regard to the NS case, it can be concluded that these travellers engage in eWOM to reduce their anxiety in particular. But also self-enhancement and social benefits are reasons to engage in NWOM.

WHAT KIND OF RESPONSE STRATEGIES DO EXIST?

For the reason that negative word of mouth may affect the reputation of a company, it is advised to detect and intervene this way of communication. The control of all the NWOM and complaints on the internet remains difficult to handle, because NWOM expands with a high speed and infinite reach. Therefore, companies should monitor the social network sites, especially the online platforms, where their performances are likely to be deliberated. It is essential and helpful to monitor mainly the consumer generated platforms, for instance Facebook and Twitter, as 70% of the complaints are posted here (Lindenblatt, 2014). Monitoring can be done on the basis of ‘webcare'. Webcare can be defined as ‘the act of engaging in online interactions with (complaining) consumers by actively searching the web to address consumer feedback (e.g. questions, concerns and complaints)' (Noort and Willemsen, 2011). To webcare conduct to your company this will be executed by webcare teams, including one or more respondents. The purpose of webcare is therefore to ‘restore and improve the brand evaluations of complaining customers and/or of those who have been exposed to the NWOM of complaining customers' (Noort and Willemsen, 2011).

Webcare can be seen as a useful tool committed to respond and intervene on NWOM. First, a company needs to decide if they want to offer webcare or not. From that point on the company has to come up with a strategy linked with offering webcare. According to Van Noort and Willemsen (2011) a strategy can be distinguished between on one hand a proactive webcare strategy and on the other hand a reactive webcare strategy. A proactive webcare strategy means that the organization responds to NWOM without asking. A reactive webcare strategy is focused on giving reaction, but only if customers need specific help.   In the case of the NS, it is relevant to have a webcare team for this company. Customers will be aware that the organization will read their complaints and is able to respond accordingly. 60% of the complainants are willing to receive a proper respond on their complaints, when posting negative eWOM online (Van Noort and Willemsen, 2011). Besides responding on the online request directly and on time shows that the company take the complains of the customer serious.

Although implementing webcare can be seen as a helpful and promising tool, it can also backfire the company. A step in the wrong direction may lead to a spiral of negative effect, wherein NWOM ends up in even more NWOM.

For this risk of the effect of NWOM, companies call for recommendations for appropriate response strategies to control NWOM. Within offering webcare as a helpful tool to monitor the NWOM, a company has several options to respond on the NWOM. Several response strategies have been found in various studies on how a company needs to respond on complaints made by frustrated and dissatisfied customers about a service or product failure. For companies it is important to make use of the right response strategy on the negative word of mouth of complaining consumers on social network sites. Since the effect of NWOM can be huge the right response strategy should be discussed. First of all, according to Lee and Song (2010) companies have to recognise that complainers can damage their organizational reputation. But sometimes particular these companies are afraid to respond to complaints, because they do not want to let the issue escalate. Lee and Song (2010) come up with three corporate response strategies. They distinguish the following corporate response strategies: accommodative strategy, defensive strategy and a no-action strategy.

Accommodative strategy

An accommodative strategy consists of any way of apology, compensation or correction the action. In this case the company recognizes their wrongful act and takes the responsibility for this. The company will do anything for this to take action and restore. The company reacts in a way to compensate the consumer. The company will make their apology and tries to recover their action by the consumer. So the company puts the complainer's concern first. The study of Lee and Song (2010) shows that consumers who are in the meaning of that the company is accountable for the negative action, they expect an accommodative strategy. If a firm applies an accommodative response strategy they are able to reduce the dissatisfied feeling of the consumers, this will lead to more favourable reviews of the product of service afterwards. Moreover, using an accommodative strategy will enlarge the change of future purchases or usage of service. Besides, accepting the responsibility of the failure and trying to compensate the customer will win back the trust of consumers. At the end this results in a more favourable evaluation as well as effect on the purchase intention (Lee and Song, 2010).

Defensive strategy

A defensive strategy means that the company does not admit the existence of the wrong act or problem due to service failure. Organizational interest is put first (Chang et al. 2015). A defensive strategy encompasses the following forms. A denial response, the company is not taking their responsibility for their action and express this in a negation. Or the company gives an offensive reaction to the accuser. Or the firm responds in a way to blame others. This strategy is useful for companies if the problem of a customer is hard to interpret or identify. Giving a defensive response shows that companies are certain of their performances and this will lead that the consumer starts to doubt.  If the problem is well defined, it is better to refuse this strategy. Previous research namely revealed that a defensive strategy can lead to escalation of the problem. At the end this can harm the reputation of the firm. Besides, a defensive response which include a denial encourages negative perception toward the firm (Lee and Song, 2010).

No Action strategy

A no action response strategy means that the company is not taking any action to give a comment. This strategy is helpful for companies, who feel less responsibility for their actions. When it is not entirely clear if the negative event is caused by this company. A no-action strategy would mean that the company had a lower value of responsibility for an issue. In this case the company remains silent in the online sites. Although this action is most convenient, it is not cleverest strategy. The study of Lee and Song (2010) showed that this action is only acceptable by consumers who have very favourable feelings toward the company. For the reason that dissatisfied consumers lost their favourable feelings toward the company, this is not the best response strategy. Not acknowledging the problem and ignore the negativity may lead to more negative information about the company on the internet. At the end this may damage the reputation of the company (Lee and Song, 2010).

Lee and Song (2010) examined in their study the effect of a corporate defensive response strategy and a no-action strategy. Results revealed that the impact of a defensive strategy is stronger than a no-action strategy, if the company was at fault from a consumers' perception.  

The NS is exposed to thousand messages a day on social media. Giving no reaction would not be clever. This company is very big and doing nothing will show that the NS is not taking any acknowledgment for their performance, no matter if their true or not.

Characteristics of the message

As a company wants to respond on the NWOM, not only the kind of strategy matters, the characteristics of the massage do also matter. The characteristics of the message contain one of the following five categories. At first, denial; the company disclaims the occurred action and shift the blame to another entity. Secondly, evasion of responsibility; the action of the organization is done by another acting. Thirdly, reducing offensiveness of the event by addressing positive attributes or past actions. Fourthly, corrective action, whereby the company promised the customer to correct their action. At last an action based on apology, the company apologies for the wrongful act (Benoit, 1995).

Format of the response strategy

How a company responds on NWOM can restore a consumers' attitude towards a firm. In many cases NWOM has influence on the integrity perceptions.  Not only the response strategy is important to keep in mind for an appropriate response, but also the format, so the content of the respond is important.

As mentioned before, the most common verbal responses are accommodative, which includes an apology, and defensive strategy, where the company give a denial response.  

Little research is focused on the content of the respond that is appropriate. Regarding to the study of Lear and Ruyter (2010) they differentiate two content formats for responding. In their study they examined the content format strategy in combination with a response strategy. The format of the message can be analytical or narrative. By the analytical format the response is persuasive and based on facts. Analytical formats following a logical line of arguments. In the example of an analytical message, consumers tent to examine the content.

Giving responses to the customers or readers, this will lessen the vulnerability. So this indicates that customers may value attach to responses to integrity restoring than receiving alternative service options.

The combination of the format of the response (analytical or narrative) and the strategy (apology and denial) on the intention to switch to another provider is tested. Result revealed that the combination denial and analytical format and a narrative apology do restore integrity perceptions. Besides, the intention to switch is less in contrast to the opposite combinations (analytical apology and narrative denial). Furthermore, the study of Laer and Ruyter (2010) showed that a narrative denial restores is more effectively than an analytical apology response.

Additionally, it is very important to respond in the same format of the preceding communication, because this way of communication is more persuasive than responding with a different format. Most of the times consumers post negative word of mouth online to complain. These complaints about the companies to your online friends are thus from a narrative nature. So therefore it is advised to response with an identical format.  All in all, a company should respond in the same format the preceding communication is. Since the NWOM is a narrative form of communication, the company should also reply in a narrative format (Laer and Ruyter, 2010).

Narrative formats are simply crucial stories that experience causally connected actions within a particular setting and time span. In the case of the narrative format response, consumers feel more compelled and attracted to the content. Moreover, readers or consumers of a narrative format response to an integrity ruin leads to that the empathy in the accused party may rise. Subsequently, empathic appeals should support the characteristic appearance of regret, when the company response with an apology (Laer and Ruyter, 2010).

Apologizing relates to guilt. Consumers regard guilt admissions as something negative. While denial may lead to the benefit of the doubt for the consumers. So denying does not always relates to negativity, for ignoring the relevance of the message. By giving a denial response this correctly lead to that consumers are more willing to accept the companies' failures. This is because denying lacks of guilt.  In the end responding with denial characteristics is the best way to restore integrity violation. Within these response strategies the format a company needs to respond is examined (Laer and Ruyter, 2010). This is in contrast to the explanation of a defensive strategy, formulated by Lee and Song (2010). In their theory denial is part of a defensive strategy and may lead to escalation of the issue.   

When you look in general to restore the actions or performance of the company in order to avoid even more NWOM, it can be stated that word speaks louder than actions on the short-term effect. Sometimes companies try to recover their performances by compensating consumers with free services or goods. But by replying with restorative messages this shows a signal of interactional honesty.  Consumers are more willing to receive correct messages instead of compensating products.

Furthermore, the combination of which feeling the consumers get, while reading the response, and the content of the response will affect the willingness to restore integrity. On the one hand, the level of empathy is important. Empathy transport the reader into the feeling of the story. The literature showed that empathy has a positive effect on restoring the integrity of the accused company. On the other hand, imagination affects integrity, which suggest that the reader feels what the writer feels. The readers will be transported to the world of the respondent, where he posts a narrative respond. Likewise, imagining has a positive, significant effect on narrative cases. However, the effect of imagining is not as strong as empathy. For the reason that by empathy consumers reflect the blamed company more honest than those narrative formats who develop a helicopter view of events, when imagining is the case (Laer and Ruyter, 2010).

So the aforementioned combination of the content of the narrative responses and feelings might be interesting. It has been proven that the narrative formats, including an apology, in combination with consumers who feel empathy are more willing to restore integrity. Though this strategy does not differ for consumers who are confronted with a denial.

All these guidelines are findings, based on existing literature, to coop with NWOM on social networking sites. With reference to the NS situation it is important to differentiate what the purpose is of their respond. Are they refusing for an online firestorm and therefore using an accommodative strategy? Or do they stay steady by their own principles and give a defensive reaction?

The NS has to coop with a lot of messages a day, therefore a right strategy is required. Not only the strategy (accommodative, defensive, no action) will affect consumers' attitude toward the firm, but also the way NS putting the response forward (narrative or analytical) has to be determined. In addition, the feeling (imagining or empathy) the consumers get, while reading the response is essential too.

RECOMMENDATIONS

This research paper has examined the different response strategies to coop with negative Word of Mouth (NWOM) on social networking sites for the Nederlandse Spoorwegen(NS).  The results of a combined literature study revealed several conclusions which can be helpful for the NS. The launch of the internet has led to a rise of people who talk online. Consumers are posting their frustrations and dissatisfactions about the performances of the NS on Twitter and Facebook. This refers to emotionally oriented context of spreading eWOM, whereby consumers are focussed on sharing their opinion instead of feedback (Wang and Rodgers, 2010). Complaining about the lack of service is easy and quickly done. Especially, spreading your opinion on Twitter, since consumers are limited to a message of 140 characteristics.

Negative eWOM about a company can be troublesome. The presence of NWOM on the internet has influence on other consumers. Travellers of the NS who read the NWOM might change their attitude towards this company. The outcome of the study of Gruen et al. (2006) stated that NWOM could lead to switching behaviour to another brand or company. For travellers of the NS, it is difficult to switch to another provider, because NS is monopolist in train services. However, NWOM could still harm the NS reputation and therefore it is crucial to implement a right response strategy.  

Travellers, who make use of the NS service engage in eWOM to reduce their anxiety in particular. But also self-enhancement and social benefits are reasons for engaging in NWOM. Because negative word of mouth might affect the reputation of the NS, it is advised to detect and intervene this way of communication. To monitor all the NWOM and online complaints, webcare should be implemented (Noort and Willemsen, 2011). In the case of the NS, it is relevant to have a webcare team for this company. Customers will be aware that the organization will read their complaints and that the NS is able to respond. Besides responding on the online request directly and on time shows that NS takes the NWOM of the consumers serious.

Within webcare there are several strategies to respond on NWOM. Initially, an accommodative strategy, where the NS compensates the action by giving an apology, seems to be a bright solution for all the NWOM. This response strategy is correct, when the complainer is of the meaning that the company is accountable for the action. This will lead to a reduction of the dissatisfaction of the consumer. At the end this will lead to a recovery paradox, which means that consumers are reviewing the company more favourable in the end. The company is able to win the consumers' trust back (Lee and Song, 2010). This response is a right and easy way for the NS to respond on the NWOM.

By contrast, a defensive response might come forward too brutal, although this strategy has its own benefits. From the consumers' perspective it resembles a sign of irresponsibility. However, this strategy is helpful for situations where the problem is hard to identify.  The firm shows that they are steadfastly about their performances. Consumers starts even to doubt. However, this strategy is not appropriate for well-defined issues, because this strategy may lead to escalation of the problem (Lee and Song, 2010).

A strategy focussed on no action is also an option. Doing nothing is convenient, but in the end not the cleverest strategy. Consumers accept only no response, if they have strong favourable feelings toward a firm. Dissatisfied consumers have indeed favourable feelings toward the company (Lee and Song, 2010). Most travellers of the NS are already suppressing negative feelings toward the NS. This strategy is not a wise recommendation for the NS.

Not only a suitable response strategy is crucial, but also the format in which the response strategy is displayed is important. The combination between the format and the implemented strategy is useful and give a good instruction to handle NWOM for the NS. Based on the existing literature the combinations denial analytical and narrative apology will lead to restoring integrity perception. On top of that the intention to switch to another provider will be reduced (Laer and Ruyter, 2010). In general, it is very important to respond in the same format of the preceding messages. All the NWOM about the NS posted online are overall consumers expressing their feelings. These massage are from a narrative nature. Consumers are more compelled to content, when companies will response in a narrative format too. And so on the feeling the consumers get, while reading the response is also essential (Laer and Ruyter, 2010). As mentioned before, the level of empathy, which means that the reader will transported to the feeling of the story, have also effect on restoring the attitude toward NS.

When you look in general to restore the actions or performances of the NS in order to avoid even more NWOM, it can be stated that word speaks louder than actions. Consumers are more willing to receive correct messages instead of compensating products.

All in all, this research study has interesting and potentially recommendations for the NS to reduce NWOM. The findings suggest that NS can use an accommodative strategy in situations, where the NS is accountable for their actions. You can think of delay of trains on regular days, overcrowded trains or nasty trains. In this situation it is obvious NS is responsible for this case. NS should use a defensive strategy in situation, where it is hard to identify the real problem of the traveller. Besides it is important to present the response in the same format of the preceding messages. Whereas the messages of the travellers are written in a narrative way, NS is advice to response in the same way. A combination of narrative format and apology is the best way to restore integrity. In conclusion a response strategy containing a narrative format and apology are the most effective to reduce NWOM on Social Networking Sites.

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