Research Papers

Abstract

Recently, chatbots have been introduced as a new means to receive user-generated reviews. However, little is known how the chatbot-mediated solicitation of reviews impacts their valence which, in turn, is known to significantly impact companies’ sales. Building on computers as social actors and normative social influence theories, we delineate hypotheses which we test in an online field experiment (N=438). The results of our experiment show that the use of a chatbot-mediated review elicitation positively influences the valence of the provided reviews in general. We explain this observation by an increased need for audience tuning which makes the respondents to give more favourable evaluations. Moreover, this effect is stronger in cases where the consumers experienced an objectively poor product/service quality. This is because respondents would feel greater social pressure to tune their evaluations to minimize the disagreement between them and the requester. 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. The results of our experiment also translate into meaningful information to practitioners seeking to understand how to effectively collect and manage online reviews.

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