Crisis Communication: The Influence of Tone of Voice and Response Strategies on Attitude Towards the Company and Organizational Reputation.

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This thesis investigates to what extent response strategies and tone of voice have an influence on customer’s attitudes towards a company and an organization’s reputation in a crisis. The response strategies that are examined are “apology” and “denial”, and the tones of voice that are investigated are a “Conversational Human Voice (CHV)” and an “Organizational Tone of Voice (OTV)”. The following research question was formulated: “To what extent do response strategy (denial vs. rebuilding) and tone of voice (CHV vs. OTV) affect customers’ attitude towards the company and the organization’s reputation in crisis communication?” An experiment was conducted with a 2 (response strategy: Apology and Denial) x 2 (tone of voice: CHV and OTV) between-subject factorial design. The participants had to read one of the four conditions of a fictious company in a crisis and set a response on their website, after which the respondents had to state their attitude towards the company and reputation of the organization by filling in a questionnaire. In order to analyze the responses of a sample of 137 Dutch participants, two Two-way ANOVAs were conducted in order to test the effects of each independent variable and a possible interaction effect. The results show that there was a more positive effect of the response strategy apology compared to denial on customer’s attitude, which enhances previous findings stating that denial is the least effective strategy in a crisis concerning the restoration of a customer’s attitude (Lyon & Cameron, 2004; Claeys, Cauberghe, & Vyncke, 2010). Other effects have shown to be insignificant in this research setting, which could have been caused by limitations regarding this research method such as sample size and cultural context. Overall, the results in this thesis imply that organizations should focus on their response strategy in order to mitigate negative effects of crises.
Faculteit der Letteren