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What to do with positive reviews?

Retailers often tend to focus more on negative reviews as such reviews can damage their business. However, it is equally important to give attention to positive customer reviews. Responding to positive reviews in an active-constructive way (validating customer’s positive experience and supporting future instances of such experience) and in a friendly communication style encourages repurchase behaviour in buyers.

In today’s digital commerce age, reviews play a critical role for both buyers and sellers. Negative reviews can cause many issues for retailers, so naturally, retailers tend to put

greater focus on them (For more information on tackling negative reviews, read Negative reviews: Is there a solution?). However, it is easy to forget that positive reviews can quickly turn into negative ones if the retailer does not use them to retain customers and encourage repurchases. A study tries to address this issue by answering the question: How should retailers harness positive reviews to drive buyer repurchase intention?

The study found that the right kind of response to a positive review increases buyer repurchase intention. Repurchase intention refers to a buyer’s desire to buy a product once more because of a positive experience when using it before. The correct response, in this case, is an active-constructive response in a friendly communication style.

When a person is happy, they like to share that feeling with their dear ones because sharing a positive experience in an interpersonal relationship increases sense of happiness. There is a more significant boost to this joy when the person with whom the sharing takes place validates the shared experience and shows enthusiasm for similar experiences in the future. This validation is called an active-constructive response.

An active-constructive response works just as effectively in a buyer-retailer relationship. When a buyer is happy with a purchase, they post a positive review to share that satisfaction. An active-constructive response by the retailer can enhance that happiness, thus leading to greater repurchase intention. An alternate type of response, the passive-constructive response, would acknowledge the positive review, but it is not as effective in encouraging repurchase.

Here’s an example. Let’s say that a customer purchased a vacuum cleaner online and gave it

a glowing review. The two types of responses would look something like this

Passive-constructive: Thank you for your positive feedback. Best regards.

Active-constructive: Thank you so much for your kind praise! We are so happy that you enjoyed using our vacuum cleaner. Hope to see you again soon!!!

Comparing these two responses, the second one is likely to generate greater happiness in the customer who gave the positive review and encourage them to purchase from the same store in the future.

Another factor that can affect how buyers feel about retailer responses to their reviews is the style of communication. There are many such styles like relaxed, impression leaving, friendly, open, dominant, and others. The most suitable style for encouraging repurchases is a friendly one. It is informal, helpful, and cordial like one would speak to a close friend.

Retailers can use these findings to design more effective online consumer communication strategies. First, they need to ensure that they respond to positive reviews and not just to negative ones. They should not ignore customers who are already happy with the product. In fact, they can respond to positive reviews in an active-constructive way. The tone they use should also be friendly to maximise the positive impact of the response.

Second, while responding, retailers should gently nudge customers towards repurchasing or

promote new products that might be of interest to the buyer. It is important to remember that this should not feel like pushing to the customer, which can have a negative impact. For example, a response to a positive review about a vacuum cleaner (for a company like Dyson) could be, “Thank you so much for your kind praise! We are so happy that you enjoyed using our vacuum cleaner. We are absolutely certain that you would love our range of air purifiers as well.” Keeping customers happy through appropriate and timely responses will boost repurchasing behaviour and, ultimately, the retailer’s sales.

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