TripAdvisor, eBay, AirBnB, Uber, Amazon, and now most online retailers have rating systems. Here in the UK, we also have various versions of Check-a-Trade which rates Tradespeople. Often the scoring is out of 5 stars, but sometimes 10. Sometimes each ‘star level’ has been labelled as a bit of a guide – poor, very good, outstanding, and so on.
However, what the ratings mean, often depends on the writer and the reader, not the the seller. When you read the comments, sometimes you get a bit of insight into the rating. Frankly, you might even raise or lower the rating based on what you read. For example, ‘Product X is an excellent cheap, temporary, stop-gap solution of a Problem Y.’ This comment might come along with a 5 star rating. However, if you are looking for a long-term solution, you may, mentally, downgrade the rating. Or a rating may come without commentary. These are effectively useless as you don’t know what the use case or expectations were.
We often think of rating systems to be about quality of a product, service, experience. However, they are mostly about expectations. Have we met the expectations of the client. In addition, it is often not just about the product or service, but also about the interaction between the client and the those providing support. A product or service does not meet our expectations can be ‘salvaged’ by fantastic customer support interaction. However, when the interactions are poor, it can ruin a good product.
It is unfortunate when we think the ratings are about one thing, but they are actually about another.