Friday, 2 September 2011

Tough cookie or meanie?

On our recent trip to Blackpool, Ross booked our B&B after checking out online reviews.  One establishment had simply outstanding reviews.  It had perfect marks across the board on Trip Advisor.  We figured this was the place to stay!

In my post about the trip, I expressed my confusion as to the superlative nature of the reviews.  Let me explain.  It was  perfectly fine B&B.  It seemed on par with other B&Bs that I've seen.  It was fine.  The proprietors were very nice.  The location was good.  The bed was pretty uncomfortable.  It was a little dusty.  The towels were rough.  Nothing terribly wrong.  Just little things that made it fine and not great.  It was certainly not as nice at the B&B that we stayed at when we went to the Lake District for Ross' birthday last year.

After we left, Ross and I both wondered about the reviews we'd seen online.  Though we'd found the experience acceptable, and would even consider staying at this place again, we were baffled by why people had scored it with the highest marks across the board.  We probably would have still booked it with slightly lower (in our opinion, more accurate) reviews and would not have been left feeling a bit disappointed.  We resolved to post a balanced review.

Ross forwarded me the feedback form when it arrived in his email a few days later.  I endeavoured to leave the kind of review I would have found helpful.

I ended up with the following text:
A pleasant stay
This was a perfectly pleasant place to stay in a charming little town. The proprietors are very friendly, though the accommodations are nothing particularly special. Seems like a better place for a family stay than for a romantic couple's weekend.




I ranked them on several categories, on a scale of 1 to 6.  On most categories, I gave a 4.  On customer service a gave a 5.

I read the review to Ross for his agreement and approval before I hit submit.
A few days later, I received another email (forwarded from Ross).  It was from the owner of the B&B and she was asking about our rankings.  She apologized that we were disappointed with our stay.  She questioned my low ranking of "cleanliness" and "quality of food"- both of which I ranked 4 of 6.   She framed it as being interested in improving the B&B.

Now, to me, 4 of 6 means the equivalent of "good".  That's a good score to get from me!  5 would have been "very good" and 6 would have been "outstanding".  Those two rankings really mean something to me.  A rank of 6 is the equivalent of saying "I can't imagine anything better!" in my opinion.

Perhaps I'm just a tough cookie.  I know reviews are very important to businesses such as this, but that doesn't mean I'm going to give a rank that I can't stand behind.  I used to have a boss who was tough and when you got a high score on an employee evaluation it really meant something.  And that's how I view ranking systems like this.

Now I feel pressured to defend my rankings and opinions.  I'm finally composing my reply to the owners email and am going to strive to be helpful and kind (rather than defensive).

Are you a tough rater?
or do you hand out 5's and 6's like they're candy?
Have you ever felt pressured to defend a review after being contacted by a business?

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