Let us not talk of them, but look and pass: Examining the drivers of organizational attention to online reviews
In a world where five stars have become the standard for evaluating all sorts of transactions, and online reviews are mushrooming, decision makers are put in front of a constantly growing body of feedback, whose validity and credibility need to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Not only are decisions makers to monitor online reviews about their organization, but also, they need to be able to correctly identify those to be addressed. But how so? Relying on previous literature, triangulated with observations from an exploratory qualitative examination of the restaurant industry across France, Italy, and the United States, we elaborate on how different features of a review will affect the extent to which it is perceived as worth of merit, thus ultimately making a decision maker more likely to pay attention to it. We then test the resulting framework through a randomized scenario-based experiment involving 192 restaurants and an empirical examination of 8,912 actual responses to 41,524 TripAdvisor reviews evaluating a random sample of 151 restaurants. Results from our analyses suggest that decision makers direct their attention towards reviews they deem more valid and credible. They also suggest that when faced with a review that, despite lacking validity, is still likely generate a lot of attention from relevant audiences, decision makers will engage in strategic behavior. Publicly, they will signal attention to the review by issuing an online response. Substantially, they will ignore the feedback provided in the review as unworthy.