There is a difference between ratings and reviews. Sure they go together like bread and butter, and like bread and butter they are not necessarily reliant on each other and they are able to be used separately, but together they make for an effective partnership.
What’s the difference?
A rating is: a classification or ranking of someone or something based on a comparative assessment of their quality, standard, or performance.
A review is: a formal assessment or examination of something with the possibility or intention of instituting change if necessary.
What do they tell business and consumers?
When you look at a website and see a score out of a number of stars, that is a rating. Ratings are an immediate and simplistic view on a a business, product or service. Star ratings give the reader a quick summarisation of what sort of product they are about to buy or invest in. They are one of the main initial hurdles that a consumer has to cross when deciding whether a product or business is worth looking at in more detail or not. After all there is no point in them investing lots of time looking at a business or product to find out it’s actually not very good at all.
Reviews come in a much wider range of forms, and have the option of being much more informative. A review can come accompanying a rating, or separate in the form of a social media post, blog post, a report, or even a video. A review by it’s nature is longer form than a rating, therefore, it’s much more time consuming to analyse and doesn’t always provide a obvious outcome and even the title of a review may not necessarily tell the whole story. What reviews do allow for though is offer more information and the potential for real world insight, from peers.
Ratings and reviews both offer insight, and both are a way for consumers to be able to identify which product, services or businesses they wish to spend their hard earned money with.
Which is more important?
This is a much tougher question to answer, and although it may sound a cop out, they are equally important. Important in very different ways.
As mentioned earlier a star rating provides a summary. This is a snapshot and a generalisation. Generalisations are good in the sense that they offer quick access to how a a business or service will perform without having to spend too much time. They allow you as a consumer to quickly and easily discount products with a low rating, and for businesses show you weaknesses in your product/service portfolio. However, these generalisations have their limit. They tell you what the outcome is, but not why the outcome is that. They provide no thought nor reasoning.
This is why reviews are important. They offer insight and value to both consumers and businesses. They can offer balance and reasoning, this gives consumers an opportunity to make a more informed purchasing decision and shows businesses where they can improve. The biggest problem with reviews is that this information is a perspective, and an opinion. Just because one person believes the product or service is good, it doesn’t mean that it’s right for everybody.
Why does this post matter?
Simply because ratings are different to reviews. Having a blend of both is good for both consumers and businesses alike. By giving consumers the opportunity to rate and review both individual products/services and businesses they feel empowered because their opinion counts and potentially helps others. Businesses benefit by receiving feedback they ma not have otherwise gotten, and ultimately lots of reviews ultimately leads to increased sales.