The Rise of Robo-Reviews: The Effects of Chatbot-Mediated Review Elicitation on Online Reviews

40 Pages Posted: 18 Feb 2021

See all articles by Dimitrios Tsekouras

Dimitrios Tsekouras

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University

Dominik Gutt

Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam School of Management

Irina Heimbach

WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management

Date Written: December 23, 2020

Abstract

Chatbots have been introduced as a new way to receive product reviews. However, little is known about how chatbot-mediated solicitation influences review characteristics such as valence and length, or its helpfulness, which, in turn, affects companies' sales and prospective customers' decision-making. We build upon social presence and audience-tuning theories and conduct four studies comprising 1,012 respondents to narrow this literature gap. Our results show that chatbot-mediated reviews are positively biased and shorter compared to reviews collected using a conventional review form. The effect persists even when controlling for the review elicitation source (seller vs. third-party). Further, we find that the positivity bias varies depending on the level of anthropomorphism in the chatbot (human vs. machine-like). Finally, chatbot-mediated solicitation negatively influences a range of review dimensions (e.g., helpfulness) mainly due to decreased review length. Our study is among the first to introduce chatbots as a new technology to drive the elicitation of online reviews, uncovering a direct link between chatbot use and review valence, length, and helpfulness. The results of our experiment inform platforms, sellers, consumers, and regulators of the advantages but also potential drawbacks of implementing robotic automation on review platforms.

Keywords: Product Reviews, Chatbots, Review Elicitation, User-Generated Content, Audience Tuning, Social Presence

JEL Classification: M10, M21

Suggested Citation

Tsekouras, Dimitrios and Gutt, Dominik and Heimbach, Irina, The Rise of Robo-Reviews: The Effects of Chatbot-Mediated Review Elicitation on Online Reviews (December 23, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3754200 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3754200

Dimitrios Tsekouras

Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University ( email )

P.O. Box 1738
Room T08-21
3000 DR Rotterdam, 3000 DR
Netherlands

Dominik Gutt (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam School of Management ( email )

Burgemeester Oudlaan 50
Mandeville Building T09-54
Rotterdam, 3062 PA
Netherlands

Irina Heimbach

WHU - Otto Beisheim School of Management ( email )

Burgplatz 2
Vallendar, 56179
Germany

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