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Shoppers Have High Expectations for Retailers' Responses to Reviews

It's not just user reviews that cloud consumer perception

Consumer perception isn't formed just by strangers' experiences with a product—shoppers are also evaluating retailers on how responsive they are. 

It's a known fact that user-generated reviews are integral in the path to purchase. According to Murphy Research, online consumer reviews are one of the the most influential sources of information while shopping, second only to a recommendation from friends or family. 

And nearly three-fourths (74%) of US consumers feel that reviews are either very or moderately important, according to an October 2018 survey by marketing tech company Uberall. Roughly one in five consumers said they always check reviews when deciding where to shop, and an additional 57% occasionally did.

The study also found that, while consumers expect to see online buyers' honest opinions, they also have high expectations for retailer involvement. A majority (65%) thought brick-and-mortar merchants should respond to online reviews—all reviews—regardless of tone or content. 

Fewer (18%) thought retailers should respond only to negative reviews, while 6% thought they should respond only to positive ones. Just 10% thought retailers should never respond to a review ever. 

For these shoppers, generic responses won't cut it. Seventy-eight percent expected a response with a least some degree of personalization, and 29% wanted responses to be very personalized. 

The increasing expectations for personalization can be tricky for retailers. Most are making it a priority but are still finding a balance between "just right" and "too much." This survey didn't get into what types of personalization shoppers wanted from a response. Hypothetically, responses could include anything from addressing the reviewer by name to referencing past purchases to commenting on a user's Instagram account. 

Similar to personalized product recommendations, getting it right can boost engagement and sales, while missing the mark can drive shoppers away. It's no wonder retailers often choose to sit on the sidelines when it comes to user reviews.