A Few Hypotheses

By: Ryan Walker

So what are we actually making? What is the problem we’re trying to solve?

Maybe it’s best to start by stating a few hypotheses we have, and then we can talk about the solution we’re going to try and provide.

Hypothesis #1: Online ratings for physical locations (restaurants, retail, museums, etc.) are mostly meaningless.

How many of us have pulled out our phones to get a quick idea of what the best pizza is within a 2 block radius? Maybe you used Google Places, Yelp, Foursquare? “Looks like we should try Awesome Pizza with 4.2 stars instead of Mega Pizza with only 4.1. Clearly Awesome Pizza has the superior slice.” Really? A typical restaurant’s rating may be based on just 50 votes, maybe even as little 10.

Of the hundreds of customers visiting the restaurant each and every day over the course of years, you’re going to trust the collective opinion of 10 people out of 100,000 visitors? I think we can do better, a lot better.

Don’t get me wrong, popular ratings sites are often filled with quality reviews that detail the entire experience. But more often than not, I don’t have time (or can’t be bothered) to read through a series of reviews to make an informed decision about the best possible experience.

Does it really matter where you end up? Maybe not, but if it’s easy and accurate, I would rather the better pizza experience. More importantly, I just want someone other than me to make the decision, and it might as well be based on real data.

Hypothesis #2: Most people don’t rate or review their experience.

The proof is in the pudding. Just visit your favourite ratings site and look at the number of ratings for a restaurant in your city. Ten, fifteen, maybe even a few hundred for a popular location? And how many people visit these locations daily, a few hundred? Maybe even 100,000 year? For how many years? That’s a pitiful percentage.

But it’s so easy, right? Just pull out my phone, unlock it, open the browser, visit the website, search for the venue, ugh a typo...I give up. Oh but wait, Awesome Pizza has an app! I definitely want to install an app for a random pizza joint. I certainly won’t get pizza coupons in my inbox for the next decade.

It may seem like nothing, it’s really just 30 seconds, but most people don’t care to begin with. And is it possible that the 0.01% people that actually did decide to leave a rating are biased? What compelled them to leave a rating in the first place?

Hypothesis #3: A simple on-site solution to collect feedback will result in higher quality, and higher quantity of responses.

We believe Pushrate is in the right place, at the right time. At the end of the experience, right as the customer is leaving the venue, we present an anonymous rating solution directly in their path that’s completed with a single tap.

When a customer is confronted by staff with the typical “How was everything today?”, most people just say “Good.”. Why? People don’t like confrontation. They’re their to eat lunch, not have an uncomfortable conversation with an upset manager about cold french fries.

Online reviews allow customers to leave feedback without confrontation, but don’t actually require a reviewer to have actually visited the venue. There’s nothing to stop an angsty teenage vegan from gifting the world with one star reviews for every steak house in town.

The exit door sits right on the edge of being far enough from staff to get an honest rating, and close enough to prevent abuse. Despite the ratings being anonymous, Pushrate forces you to be physically present and deliver the rating in a public space.

What about abuse from staff? What’s stopping the owner from giving himself a five star rating everything morning before they open? Nothing really. But if the usage rate is as high as we hope, this type of abuse should be washed away by the volume of actual ratings. Also, ratings are timestamped, so ratings outside of business hours are noted.

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