Many of our most highly used customer feedback mechanisms are based in a seemingly simple, yet, somehow complex and abstract, 1-5 star rating system.What merits a 5 star rating and how are these positive experiences communicated to someone? When I go to get ice cream with a friend and we both get the same thing and feel the same way, but he rates them a 4 and I rate them a 3, is this a problem?
There is an opportunity here. We can we make it better for consumers and business owners. What are the actionable items for restaurant X to take from his self inflated Yelp score? What does the consumer take away for leaving a great review? How can we more effectively communicate to consumers what experiences have been had in a limited amount of space and in relatively instantaneous way.
**Yelp - please innovate. There is an opportunity for you to not lose your relevance and retake a lead in an industry not based on your slipping or at least growing at a slower pace user base, but on your innovation in an industry that is ready and asking for a better solution.
Here is an idea that kind of exists, first seen on Rick Mintz’ blog with a instruction manual by Roy Tanck here. Here is the idea: A word-cloud customer review based system. The representative image of a company’s reviews would not be the iconic, yet ambiguous, 1-5 star rating, but a word cloud of the top 50 words associated with the company. Why not use words to review businesses instead of numbers? Users would write reviews of places they’ve been and services they used and they would choose three key words in their reviews to represent their review. These reviews would be accessible by clicking on the hyperlinked word cloud that filters responses based on the key words. Users would be able to sort these results by time, user integrity, or votes. Users can vote on each post acknowledging its usefulness or irrelevance. Each user will have a relevance rank based on user interactions with their postings. The greater a users approval is the greater their integrity.
There are a lot of issues to sort out of with this idea, but the status quo of a 5-star system is simply that, it’s the status quo and it’s holding back mountains of information that could help future rounds of innovation on location-based recommendations.
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