The Illusion of Ratings and Feedback

Reading Time: 3 minutes
The Illusion of Ratings and Feedback
Life in present times has become an increasingly rapid process of experiences and feedback. Businesses are always asking us to rate the services or experiences they offer. And often, they feel inclined to “reward” us for it. While no one’s complaining about the free stuff or great discounts, are we losing perspective of what’s genuinely good? Because, while the feedback is certainly far more in quantity, it can’t be as clean in quality.
Why, you ask?
For starters, the moment you bribe (yes, a strong but apt word) someone for a feedback or to leave a rating or review, you’re automatically influencing the purity of the feedback, rating or review. Same goes for a 10% discount for simply “checking into” a restaurant.
Everything from a review to get the free ‘dry fruit pickle’ or a discount on the food bill, establishments are literally paying to distort their own reality of their business.
A few years ago, a friend of mine started a business, and reached out to friends on Facebook to like their business page. I was well past the years when I’d actually ask people to convince me (or at the least, fill the ‘About’ section on the page), before asking people to simply like the page. So, while I liked the page and got on with my work, some months later, seeing the 800+ likes, I asked how business was. There was none. Even though am quite sure a lot of common friends might have had a need for the products being offered. What happened, was that the Facebook page (in herd mentality), gave them a level of instant gratification, while distracting them from the core. Is, or how can I make my offerings increasingly relevant?
Recently, an entrepreneur found me online and requested a meeting to help their business turn profitable and grow faster. They had exceptional social media following and activity, which of course I didn’t take at face value. But what came next from the entrepreneur was even more disappointing. That while a lot of the followers were fake, when visiting any business page, seeing a good following gives him a sense of trust and confidence too. That justified it.
Let’s forget fake following and likes for a moment. Besides, I’ve already written a fair bit about them years ago. But consider just the fact of a business incentivizing a feedback or review that should ideally be happening without influence. Each time we do that, we willingly distort our sense of the pulse of our business.
Last month, I had dinner at one of the Taj restaurants with relatives. While the starters and main course were exceptional, the service was aloof, and one dessert was a disaster. On another occasion, when at a relatives place, I ordered butter chicken from the Butter Chicken Factory, a nearby joint. The butter chicken was terrible! I wrote reviews about the Taj dinner and the butter chicken place on Zomato (neither ratings were too terrible). Both establishments responded. The Taj staff thanked me, saying they would incorporate the inputs. And that they looked forward to having me there again soon. The city head of the Butter Chicken Factory called to understand what in my opinion, they had gotten wrong about the taste. As I was busy, he called at a time I said I’d be free, and tried to understand. He had inputs of his own to reason out, like the very different taste of the dish in northern India and other places, and how theirs  was influenced more by a certain part of the country. It was a good dialogue, with me recommending they try out the dish at another old joint which I knew, was good. This felt like a far, far more human and involved business, as opposed to a template perhaps pasted by the Taj folk.
Now imagine, if the Taj people had offered me a 10% discount on my next visit. But the service remained unchanged and the same dessert was still on the menu, and still a dess-aster! Perhaps my reaction would have been milder, as I would have been indebted to the 10% discount. And the restaurant wouldn’t have learnt anything from the feedback.
And these are instances that are still the more evident, at least to most of us. There are so many where one aspect of the business could cause us to completely write off another aspect of it. Or an offer could skew our perception of what we’ve just experienced, be it food, an experience, an electronic product, anything.
A startup might justify the need to influence reviews to obtain a minimum critical mass to even survive. But in doing so, do businesses ignore real feedback and let performance slack? Thanks to early illusionary success, do they risk missing the growth bus?

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We can be Heroes

Reading Time: 2 minutes

We can be Heroes

Industry bigwigs, public figures, influential people, media celebrities among others, carry with their success, power and fame, certain unspoken responsibilities towards others, especially those not as fortunate.

Those responsibilities include always acting in a fair and just manner. And avoiding any form of oppression, directly or by way of others.

This post is for all you salman khan fans; a glimpse into the ugly, and a heavy load of a darker truth. The question being, can you handle it?

For the uninitiated, salman khan is arguably one of Bollywood’s top actors  [Bollywood: a popular term for the Hindi film industry; India’s ‘Hollywood’, if I may?]

Now, when salman isn’t acting, he has been busy being guilty of some crimes like a drunken hit-and-run where 1 person was killed, 4 injured. Prior to that, he and other actors were charged with poaching of near-threatened black-bucks. Pending judgement, he’s been kind enough to have a website built to share developments about his court cases. Talk about information you could live without.

Knowing the pace of our judicial system, I’m guessing judgement will be come when his career has gone south, like was in the case with sanjay dutt, another actor currently serving a sentence for illegal possession of firearms during the Mumbai serial blasts (1993), the firearms themselves traced back to the terrorist implicated in the blasts.

I request you to read the link below, an article I came across online. And then I request you to wonder about everything you admired about this person who has apparently been busy being human for sometime now. And judge for yourself, where our priorities lie. How influence and power can overshadow. How far people can go to exercise influence, and the extent they will go to, to hide the truth.

You say chulbul pandey is dabangg? I say the most petite of actresses he has ever acted with, probably has far more guts to face consequences of their actions.

Here’s the link: [Cyber Bully]

We must choose our heroes, idols and role models with extreme caution. And we must assess them regularly to ensure they are up to remain on the pedestals we have given them in our minds. Else, as  Friedrich Nietzsche said, ‘if you gaze into the abyss, the abyss gazes also into you.’