Rahul : We are facing a “Problem of Plenty” these days. Thank God, we have ratings and rankings to our rescue.
Niraj : Sorry I didn’t understand clearly. Can you please explain ?
Rahul : Most of us search for the stuff we are looking for, on internet. The moment you try to search, internet throws so many options that you get confused rather than getting a clear answer.
Niraj : Yes, you are absolutely right. So what solution did you find for your rescue ?
Rahul : The Ratings and Rankings. They help you a lot.
Niraj : Ok. Who gives these ratings and rankings ?
Rahul : I don’t know.
Niraj : So this is where it becomes interesting. Most of the times, these ratings and rankings are given by media portals who are looking to earn from higher traffic. Also, more than often, they have an “arrangement” with the service provider or product seller to give a particular rating or ranking.
Rahul : What !! I didn’t know this !! But does it impact me in any manner ?
Niraj : Of course it does. There are researches being carried out, that these ratings and rankings impact the decision making of customers. Thus, any flaw in these, leads to incorrect decision taking.
Rahul : Is there a possibility that these ratings and rankings are honest ?
Niraj: Yes, possible. Let’s assume that they are given honestly. But it may still be the case that they are not the best fits for everyone.
For example, a film critic who is fond of a socially responsible movie, might give a 1-star or a 2-star rating to a comedy movie. But if you are a comedy fan, you may happen to like that movie for yourself.
A food critic, who gives lot of weightage to ambience and service, might give a 5-star rating to a fine dine restaurant, but for you, a roadside Panipuri might be a better pick.
Rahul : You are right. So what is making these ratings and rankings so popular, even though they have lot of flaws in them?
Niraj : The Illusion of Quick Assessment !! Most of us feel that we should take an informed decision by doing some “research”. But the fact is, we neither have the time, patience or resources to do in-depth research for everything.
As a result, we fool ourselves by saying that we are doing research; whereas all we are doing is, looking at ratings and rankings given by someone and blindly believing it.
You would be surprise to know that, there are many businesses coming up these days, who solely survive on this model. They provide ratings and rankings to “some” products and “attract” visitor traffic. Then depending on the number of “visits” on the website, they contact the product sellers and demand a “premium” to give higher ranking / rating to them.
Rahul : This is so shocking !! So what should we do?
Niraj : First of all, come out of the illusion of doing research. If you really want to do research, do it in your core area. For other areas, identify an expert from your known circle and ask him/her. Make sure that the expert understands your need and then advises you accordingly.
Second, stop expecting free lunch. If someone is actually taking some pains to research and provide ratings and rankings, why should they be offering it to you for free? If you are not paying for it, you are the product.
Last but not the least, Segregate crucial and non-crucial issues. Be experimental in Non-Crucial issues and Non-experimental in Crucial issues. For example, if you want to visit a restaurant or watch a movie, you can experiment. But if it’s a medical issue, or an investment issue, then don’t experiment or blindly go by ratings. Look around for some experts, references so that you don’t land up in trouble.
Rahul : Thank you so much Niraj. I have realised my mistake. I will not go by rankings and ratings from now on.
We look forward to your feedback and comments on the above article.
The Author Prof. Saurabh Bajaj (BE, MBA, FRM, CFGP, CIA, AFGP) is CEO with Nidhi Investments, Mumbai. His articles have a readership from 78 Countries across the Globe. He may be contacted on CEO@nidhiinvestments.com if you have any questions.
(The views mentioned in the article are personal opinion of the author. The characters used in the article are imaginary).