Common traps of customer reviews III.

Common traps of customer reviews III.

Continuing our journey towards a more meaningful and thus more valuable customer review query, let us turn our attention to those elements, which may not be that visible for the first glance.  

It seems rather obvious, that you ask for the opinions, judgements and/or suggestions with the purpose of processing it and making the necessary refinements and adjustments. In order to be suitable for this purpose, your question, request or query shall be not only clear in relation to the subject, but also in another sense.  

#3. Use the right methodology

It is, again, seems obvious. However, according to our observation, there is still something to be done in this field. It is also important to tell, that the recently available and used templates for websites have relatively good plugins or extensions, which contain customer review panels with built in rating modules or something similar. These are of great help, as – at least – eliminate one methodological problem that has been with us since for a while. In order to see what to avoid, let us jump right in. 

Without going very much into another science, just assume that people can make difference between 7 different things, in average, meaning also a 5-9 range covering the majority of the meaningful feedbacks. The practical relevance of this evidence is that the more the variations of the possible feedback options (longer the scale, larger the number of options, and the more similar they are), the more possible to have a biased outcome at the end. What you can do about it is to try to be at the lower end and have not more than 5 feedback options provided, unless you have a very good reason to deviate from that. This is where the built-in functions of templates help, as they usually have a 5 items scale for reviews. 

As different options and scales have been mentioned, let us go further down that road. Providing 5 different feedback options does not necessarily mean that these constitute a ‘scale’. Different sometimes just means different. There are queries, where full sentences of judgement/characterisation are provided and the customer has to chose the one which describes their impression the best. It does not have to mean that one statement is ‘better’ than the other, however it may (in such a case, it most possibly appears only on the end of the receiver, who are to explore certain customer reactions, impressions, emotions to be associated with their product or service). 

Ranking a product or service may be considered as the most common version of customer review queries, however, in our opinion, it is also one of the problematic ones. First of all, believe it or not, we find many where it is not explained what each rank means. We may have a general assumption that the more means the better, but then how to relate to sports events, as an example, where actually the one being the first is considered as the best? As a general conclusion, we may agree that giving clear instructions in the query is the best one can do to receive a meaningful feedback. 

Scoring may also be worth mentioning here, however, majority of the cases it does not really differ from ranking. If the scores are only used for providing a rank of the possible options (e.g. poor, …, average, …, excellent), then it is just ranking. If there is a meaning of e.g. how good a particular service is, and a score 2 means half as good as score 4, then it also provides proportions to deal with. Important to note that the fact that ones uses scores for providing proportions, or highlighting average, as an example, does not mean that it has a meaning, in methodological sense. Probably the most common wrong example is the grades at school, in countries where numbers are associated with the performance. If the poorest is marked with 1 and the excellent is with a 5, providing ‘average’ as an overall performance indicator simply does not make sense. Even though it gives the impression of providing scores. A better example for school performance is when the indicators are letters, e.g. from A to E, A being the top and E the bottom in terms of excellence. This ranking does not provide any misleading information and does not drive anyone to make further, methodologically questionable conclusions (you cannot provide an average of letter, right?). 

Once the customer review request is put together properly, in the methodological sense, meaning: having meaningful and clear questions, feedback options provided accordingly, values explained and the use of the received information is also disclosed, there is nothing else to do than to collect and process the incoming reviews. Even though it seems rather simple, especially after the careful consideration of the above, there are still some potential bumps on the road to deal with. 

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