The importance of online reviews for customer decision making and their impact on sales and market efficiency is well established. One key issue for review platforms, nevertheless, is to design review systems which present helpful reviews to customers – and therefore guide reviewers towards writing reviews with high informational value but minimal cognitive effort required. In this study, we investigate whether review templates that suggest product or service features (e.g., camera usability, service in a restaurant) for the review text can successfully address this dual challenge. After having generated a review template for restaurants based on a data-driven approach, we conduct an online experiment to evaluate the influence of our template on review writing and content. In line with our hypotheses, we find that review templates suggesting product or service features can foster the creation of longer reviews covering more features. Previous literature has shown that these review properties are perceived as particularly helpful. We find that, despite writing longer reviews, the reviewers do not perceive the use of a template as requiring additional effort. Our results carry important practical implications for the design of online review systems and contribute to the literature on human interaction with review systems.
Poniatowski, Martin; Neumann, Jürgen; Goerzen, Thomas; and Kundisch, Dennis, (2019). "ORGANIZING THEIR THOUGHTS – HOW ONLINE REVIEW TEMPLATES AFFECT THE REVIEW TEXT". In Proceedings of the 27th European Conference on Information Systems (ECIS), Stockholm & Uppsala, Sweden, June 8-14, 2019. ISBN 978-1-7336325-0-8 Research Papers.