In the present article, the authors discuss issues associated with online reviews for products and companies. Although online reviews are commonly regarded as honest feedback from the customers prospective clients can rely on for making their decisions, it is only one half of the truth. The second half is that the vast majority of online reviews tend to represent only the polarized opinions about the product or company in question: they are either extremely good or very bad.
This happens not because all customer universally either love or hate what they get. This happened because people with moderate and “okay” experiences do not feel like writing a review for a product that was “just fine” is worth their time and effort. While it is easy to this impression (most people have experienced it themselves), it is worth thinking what this unwillingness to comment on the product one has purchased means for the reliability of online reviews most people are checking out before buying a product or joining a company. These reviews become not very representative and may prove quite costly both for the person making the decision and for the company.
In order to address this reluctance of people with moderate experiences with companies to still leave their comments and reviews, the authors of the present article offer two strategies that were empirically tested in the laboratory and in real life. For one, they suggest that offering a small financial reward serves as an effective incentive for people to go to the website and leave an honest review about their experience.
However, for this to be effective the reward has to be small but still significant enough to actually motivate people to act on it. Secondly, the authors indicate that social incentive stressing that reviewing the products will help other people decide on a product or a company is a powerful tool for convincing people to leave their honest reviews even if their experience was just average.