How Do Various Ways of Collecting Feedback Affect Consumers’ Evaluations?

Katie Mehr, PhD Candidate, The Wharton School and Joseph Simmons, Operations, Information and Decisions, The Wharton School

Abstract: Companies use a variety of methods to collect consumer feedback: some ask for an overall rating only, while others also ask for ratings of specific attributes (e.g., cleanliness), and some include several pages of questions. Across two projects, we find that the way companies collect feedback affects consumer’s evaluations. Our first project finds that when an aspect of an experience is particularly negative and consumers can directly rate it, they are less likely to incorporate that specific attribute into their overall rating. Thus, those rating the overall experience and several attributes give a higher overall rating when compared to those who only rate the overall experience. However, if some attributes of an experience are not salient, then the effect depends on the valence of the included attributes. In other words, consumers give a higher overall rating when the attributes are positive. Our second project finds that when consumers are asked about a salient attribute (e.g., cleanliness of a dirty Airbnb) second, they rate it more extremely, compared to when they rate this attribute first. Thus, the extent to which consumers can voice negative experiences or are reminded of certain attributes of an experience affects the feedback they provide.