Decoding the Feedback

Now that the consumer has given a feedback (following up from my previous blog), how do I (provider and a fellow consumer) make sense of it?

Taking them with a pinch of salt

I receive an email from Glassdoor saying ABC Corp received a 1star rating and in a few days later I receive few other emails from Glassdoor saying ABC Corp received few 5star ratings. Makes me wonder the effectiveness and credibility of this rating platform. Same story when I shop online or purchase/rent a movie online. I spend quite some time reviewing ratings and comments. Jon Wick has 9000 ratings with an average of a 4.5-star rating; xXx Xander has 545 ratings with an average of 4-star (on Amazon video). Both are mindless action movies, and I am not even sure of how to rate them. If there was an option called “time pass” that’s how I would rate these movies. I take all ratings with a pinch of salt until I know how to decode them: the consumers behind the ratings and how the rating platforms by themselves work.

Ratings are a two-way dialog

When you receive a delivery from UberEats, you get one question – how do you rate the dish. Rating on one dimension keeps it simple for the consumer. It leaves a lot of room for the provider on how to interpret the rating. Should the consumer be provided with more than one dimension to rate so that it is more meaningful to the provider? One could argue it would eventually become ineffective as consumers wouldn’t take much time to rate against all these various dimensions. Should the provider categorize the feedback by the demographic of the consumer to help other consumers of similar profiles? Among the platform providers whom I use regularly, Airbnb and Uber make sure ratings are a two-way dialog. Both providers and consumers are rating each other. This dialog forces each other to be “honest” as your future interactions depend on your historical rating.

What else can we do to make the ratings meaningful and nurture this conversation between providers and consumers?

Transparency: As a provider, how do you know who is rating you? We are not getting into a philosophical discussion of knowing oneself. A very practical version of knowing who is providing the rating. Platforms need to ensure they have triangulated on the consumer. It is almost equivalent to a credit check in a B2B world before you engage with a future customer. Without ensuring the credibility of a consumer, the reviews and ratings provided by them are as good as the now popular FAKE news. Airbnb ensures that they know who the consumer is by triangulating on the user before onboarding.

Is average rating good enough?

For the majority of the transactions, consumers are usually good with an average rating. However as our society continues to depend on reviews and ratings, we will start expecting more granularity on the ratings. We already do that today, since we read the reviews in addition to ratings. We want to know what is under the hood of the reviews and ratings and how they work. Platforms will need to start sharing on how they derive the ratings. Maybe right now all they provide is an average rating. Is that good enough?




Inferred Consumer Rating

Depending on consumer’s prior purchases, products bought by other similar consumers and depending on complementary offerings, online commerce platforms push what you would like next. Probably baked in the algorithms is the weight of the ratings provided by the consumer. If it is not, platform providers can easily derive an Inferred Consumer Rating based on historical ratings and reviews. In addition to personalization of products, providers can use platforms to create surveys and calculate a rating for other products and services. Using these data points providers can come up with an Inferred Consumer Rating by each consumer and provide an alternate perspective in addition to an average rating.

There are other ways of getting cuter. Even if providers and consumers want to keep it simple, it is important to decode the meaning; else we might wait for 7.5 million years and find out 42 was the answer.

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