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May 10, 2023

Is AI/ChatGPT Capable of Customer Review Response?

Can the latest AI developments respond to reviews for your business? Here are some benefits, Google guidelines and limitations of AI for review management.

For businesses looking to stand out from the competition and establish trust, reviews are an invaluable tool. 

As the need for accurate and frequent reviews grows more apparent, and responding to reviews becomes increasingly important, seeking an efficient solution, many businesses may turn to AI to assist with their review response and reputation management. 

However, the question remains: is AI “smart” enough to respond to reviews for you?

In this post, we’ll discuss what AI is, what it's capable of, what its limitations are, and how it can aid in your review response management strategy. Be sure to also check out our best practices for AI automotive review response

What is AI?

Artificial intelligence (AI) refers to the ability of machines to perform tasks that typically require human intelligence, such as speech recognition, decision-making, and language translation. It’s built on the idea that a machine can learn from experience, adjust to new inputs and improve over time. 

More recently, the introduction of the Generative Pre-Trained Transformer (GPT) is a notable step forward in natural language processing, making it particularly relevant to responding to reviews. These systems work by predicting the most likely next word in a sentence, using context clues to form a coherent answer to the task at hand.

For practical purposes, when review response technology companies talk about AI response technology, they are integrating OpenAI’s ChatGPT technology to power an efficient response experience.

What Can AI Do for Review Response? 

There’s no denying the power of AI and the new era of innovation it has created. When it comes to reputation management, AI has the potential to revolutionize how businesses approach customer interactions. 

The notable benefits of incorporating AI in your review response strategy include:

1. AI saves time 

AI handles tasks at a pace that people simply can’t match. One of the pillars of AI is that it gets more done in less time. It has the ability to analyze large amounts of data quickly, meaning it can easily detect the sentiment of reviews and identify patterns in customer feedback across multiple review sites at once. 

Taking advantage of this capability can help streamline the review response process and ensure timely and efficient responses to every review, even during high-volume periods.

2. AI serves as inspiration

If writing isn’t your strong suit, coming up with fresh and unique responses to reviews can be challenging. If you’re consistently asking for reviews, and frequently receiving them, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the creative process. AI is a proven and helpful tool for generating new response ideas when you’ve hit a roadblock or are unable to craft a response yourself. 

3. AI ensures professionalism

Receiving any kind of negative feedback is frustrating, no matter who you are. Oftentimes, customer criticism can be hard to take at face value. Even so, when responding to negative reviews, it's crucial to stay measured and professional in your response. 

Trusting your review responses to AI guarantees a response that is emotionally distanced and separated from the situation at hand. It prevents you from coming across as defensive to prospective customers or making a potentially bad customer interaction worse. 

What Can’t AI Do for Review Response? 

Despite the benefits and the clear innovative future AI holds, it has its limitations. Testing out your prompts in popular AI tools like Jounce.ai, ChatGPT, or Jasper for any span of time will inevitably reveal that AI isn’t yet perfect. 

Some downsides of incorporating AI in your review response strategy include:

1. AI lacks human empathy and understanding

Reviews are inherently human. According to a study by Trustpilot, the top reason people leave reviews is to help others make better buying decisions. Trusting AI to respond to reviews on your behalf could mean a non-specific, generic, and quite frankly, tone-deaf response from your business.

Responding to reviews is not just about handling negative feedback and relishing in the positive. It’s about building trust with customers. If your customers are leaving a review, they want to feel heard and valued. The best way to achieve this is with personalized responses that address their concerns directly. This is where AI falls short.

2. AI content is detectable by Google

Google's algorithm is equipped to detect generic AI content, and its ability to do so will only improve over time. That means, relying solely on AI to respond to reviews, rather than taking the time to edit and rework AI-generated copy, could potentially hurt your local search ranking. 

3. AI is inconsistent. 

Without exact and clear prompting, AI has a tendency to get confused and spit out inconsistent and unnatural-sounding content. 

The main issues you can expect to encounter when relying completely on AI to respond to your reviews include repetitive text, a lack of linguistic complexity, a lack of relevance or situational context, and grammatical errors. 

Google's AI Guidelines

A bit more on this important subject: Google’s AI guidelines state that “Using automation- including AI - to generate content with the primary purpose of manipulating ranking in search results is a violation of our spam policies.” Therefore, if you’re going to rely on AI for review response, know that it must be done responsibly to avoid damaging your business’s search rankings.

*Widewail recommends a combination of AI generation for inspiration and ideas, followed by human review and additions for originality and value to users.

Google also emphasizes the responsible use of artificial intelligence in content creation, likewise stressing the importance of human oversight in all AI-related activities. It advocates for AI to augment human creativity, not replace it. And they highlight the important role of transparency, where users should know (be told) when they are interacting with content generated abundantly by AI.

The rules of engagement also underscore the principle of fairness. AI should not create or reinforce unfair bias, and content created should be accessible and useful for as many users as possible. They also put strong emphasis on privacy and security, ensuring that AI applications respect the privacy of users while keeping their data secure.

Takes some of the excitement and fun out of it all, doesn't it? But it's certainly easy to understand their concerns. AI + people is the best way forward during these early days of widespread adoption, and will simultaneously tick most of Google's boxes. 

Is AI Enough? 

AI has been touted as the solution to many problems, including review management. But is it really enough to get the job done right? 

The short answer is no. At least, not for everyone. 

Yes, depending on your business needs and what you’re looking for in a reputation management strategy, AI can be used effectively to streamline your approach to review response.

Can AI be used to respond to Google reviews?

So, "yes" and "no".

We’re not here to argue whether or not AI review management is better than people-powered response solutions. Rather, we want to highlight that the two can be used together to increase efficiency and productivity. 

For some business owners, AI on its own may be enough. It’s quick, easy, and budget-friendly. While it does have its flaws, it gets the job done. 

For other business owners that are actively looking to build their brand and establish a shared sense of trust with their customers, AI is not quite enough for you to be successful.  

While more time-consuming and involved, people-powered review response inherently gives you more authority over your business’ narrative and brand image. By responding to reviews yourself, or trusting it to a team of trained professionals, you show your customers that you value their opinion. This can lead to increased customer loyalty and a stronger sense of credibility for your business overall. 

While AI can certainly be a useful tool, it’s more of a supplement to review response than a standalone solution. Pairing AI’s strengths of speed and efficiency with human responders’ abilities to use empathy and intuition could be the optimal review response strategy. Generate ideas faster while minimizing the risks of sounding fake and ultimately losing the trust of your customers as well as search engines.

While the current state of AI tools is undoubtedly impressive, human intervention is the only surefire way to guarantee high-quality, valuable, and on-brand content for your business.

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Emily Keenan

Originally from Scarborough, Maine, I moved to Vermont after graduating from St. Lawrence University, where I received my BA in English and Spanish. I have always been interested in writing and communication, which is what initially drew me to the Review Response Specialist position at Widewail. In my spare time, I can be found reading, playing electric guitar, or strolling/biking around one of Burlington’s many scenic trails. I always welcome the opportunity to talk about my work, and invite anyone with questions or comments to reach out or connect with me on LinkedIn.

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