Expert en feedback management - Spécialiste dans la mise en place de baromètre de satisfaction et d'enquête de satisfaction
Expert en feedback management - Spécialiste dans la mise en place de baromètre et d’enquête de satisfaction
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16 October 2014

Customer satisfaction surveys & online reviews: additional sources of information

Online review sites, social networks, satisfaction barometers, complaints... more and more channels are available for your customers to express their discontent or dissatisfaction following an experience.

Taken individually, these means of communication seem to differ both in terms of their tone and in terms of topics discussed.

Below we offer a more detailed insight into the differences between the results of a customer satisfaction survey and the ratings on an online review site.


One of our clients specialising in the tourism industry offers its customers the opportunity to both answer a satisfaction barometer and leave an online review. The results of the satisfaction barometer are used by the company, whereas the online review is used as feedback intended for other internet users. Through this mechanism, the customer is only solicited once, but the information gained can be used by different parties. Thus, our client gives its customers the opportunity to address other internet users (who are also potential clients) without him or her initially intending to do so.

Technically speaking, the company first sends its customers an e-mail inviting them to take part in the satisfaction survey. Once they have completed this step, a TripAdvisor form appears. The user can then choose whether to leave a review or not. There are two advantages to this mechanism. First it reduces the solicitation of customers; and second, it improves the establishment’s visibility on the internet.

Thus, this study compares the comments and ratings from the two communication channels (the customer satisfaction barometer and TripAdvisor). The information gathered from this study teaches us three things which are just as important in qualitative terms as they are in quantitative terms.

Information gathered

• Tone

The opinions communicated through the satisfaction barometer are more critical than the reviews on TripAdvisor - the satisfaction barometer responses contain 10% fewer positive concepts than the online reviews. Customer reviews intended for the company use a harsh tone, the goal being to highlight areas where improvements can be made, whereas reviews intended for the public tend to be more advisory; the tone is slightly different.

• Topics

For holidays, the message to the company mainly focuses on the accommodation, its cleanliness, comfort and amenities.
However, when it comes to feedback intended for the public, the main focus is on the environment (the setting, access, the complex...).

In this way, the focus of the customer’s message varies depending on who it is intended for: technical issues will be mentioned as feedback which the company can react to directly, whereas aspects relating to opinion and experience will be used as advice intended for internet users.

These charts prove that the messages are complementary: when intended for the company, comments target aspects that the company can improve on, whereas reviews intended for internet users focus on the setting and the experience. Concepts related to furnishings are present in the comments section of the satisfaction barometer, but are not mentioned in the online reviews. In contrast, comments concerning the vicinity of shops, entertainment and the environment are more common on TripAdvisor.

• Ratings

Filling out a TripAdvisor form improves establishments’ visibility on the internet. However, that’s not the only advantage. As noted in the article « What’s the future for customer satisfaction surveys ? », for a customer, leaving a review on a specialised website requires a certain amount of motivation. Making it easy for the customer to leave a review improves the diversity of the ratings and avoids the establishment having a lot of extreme ratings (which tend to be more spontaneous, and thus are over-represented on the internet).

Nevertheless, the proportion of ratings on TripAdvisor reveals that those customers who do leave a review represent extreme cases (very happy or very dissatisfied customers). For the criteria studied, “mid-table” responses are under-represented.

Ratings of criterion 1 according to channel

For each criterion, we have compared the following: 1) Respondents to the TripAdvisor form; 2) Respondents to the satisfaction barometer and the TripAdvisor form; 3) Respondents to the satisfaction barometer alone.

This chart effectively shows the equivalency between the satisfactory and dissatisfactory ratings from one group of people to another, and also reveals that the reviews on online review sites are more extreme (offering an over-representation of TERRIBLE/POOR and EXCELLENT ratings).

In conclusion

The respondent’s message varies according to who it is intended for. Messages communicated through a customer satisfaction survey generally concern improvements a company can make, whereas reviews on specialised sites are more often intended as advice for internet users.

It needs to be pointed out, however, that the questions differ depending on the communication channel used. The satisfaction survey asks for “suggestions” or “comments”, whereas TripAdvisor asks for the customer’s “opinion”. This detail must be taken into account when analysing the results in the same way as ratings (see below the section on understanding rating).

Methodological information

• Scope

The verbatim analysis was performed on a group of 546 respondents whose stay occurred in February, 2014.
Analysis of ratings takes into account visits between January and September, 2014.

• Understanding verbatim

Systematic analysis enables customer comments to be classed according to: 1) tone; 2) predefined concepts. We applied the same algorithm to the TripAdvisor reviews as that used for the satisfaction barometer.

• Understanding ratings

The criteria evaluated and the scale of ratings differ from one communication channel to the other. Customer satisfaction is rated on a scale of 1 to 10 in the satisfaction barometer, whereas it is rated on a scale of 1 to 5 on TripAdvisor. The following table indicates that there are still similarities between the two channels.

Similarities of ratings between the satisfaction barometer and TripAdvisor

The percentages are to be read horizontally: 57% of respondents who answered 1 in the satisfaction barometer also answered 1 on TripAdvisor. The ratings of the satisfaction barometer have been recalculated in the blue cells.

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R&D manager

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Understanding customer satisfaction

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