As a consumer, we are living at a time when our opinion about products is important information for companies. This also applies to the way in which consumers rate a company and its services (product). The problem is that with so many ways for consumers to share their thoughts about a company, it is hard to know how to look at a company’s ratings and know what the numbers, letter grades, number of stars, or thumbs up all mean. At some point, it is easy to wonder whether any of that input matters.

Recent research, however, shows that while getting a 100{b5271943e17dd97dcded82632e818dabbc62c3d3bd5fa50d83532f0f6a236ecb} accurate assessment of a company’s worth may be difficult to get, a company’s rating do matter. The responsibility falls on the consumer to be willing to put the work in when trying to figure out how these ratings allow them to make the best decision they can.

As a consumer, it is important to look at basic ways to break down information such as company ratings, regardless of the rating system employed. If a rating shows 5 out of 5 stars, for example, but has had only three reviews submitted, that rating might not be the most reliable. Maybe a rating system allows reviewers to give a “thumbs up” if they are a fan. This seems fun and easy to use, but is there an easy way to give a “thumbs down”? Without being able to appeal to all types of reviews, the result of the ratings are now not as clear.

Ratings are a very subjective thing, and as a responsible consumer, it is important to keep this in mind when reviewing a company’s ratings. At times, humans may not use the best reasoning in their assessment of a company. For example, when reading through online ratings & reviews, a product/service receives a 1 out of 5 stars but when you read the actual review, you may find that the reviewer is generally unhappy with products/services like the one being reviewed but not necessarily that specific product/service. Not only does that provide an inaccurate view of this company’s product/service, but the company is now seeing its overall ratings slump.

Consumers are quick to react when they do not care for something, and they will let their opinion be known. Take the time, though, to look at the review. If someone decides that a restaurant cooked a steak incorrectly and gives them a negative rating & review, does the review indicate whether the reviewer asked for a new steak? If someone wants to return items to a department store without a receipt but feels that they should get a full refund, does the review outline the company’s return policy and other options in the event that a receipt is not present? In other words, are companies being allowed to remedy a situation that isn’t ideal before it becomes a mark on their overall record?

In short, yes, a company’s ratings do matter. While there are times you as the consumer have to sift through reviews to get to the bottom of things, a company’s ratings do usually give a pretty reliable view of how well the company performs. These numbers create a sense of trust and confidence in a company, and with so many review platforms available, the consumer has the advantage of being able to find what products and services they need.