January 22, 2018

How Do Diners Use Restaurant Scores?

How do diners use restaurant scores? A Dine Safe study of usage in King County, Washington sheds some light.

Many cities have adopted a grade policy for restaurants tool help customers decide where to eat. Some cities use letter grades. In New York,  for example,  restaurants are required to post the letter grade of their most recent health inspection where it can easily be seen by passers by. In Kansas, restaurants don’t have to post their grades, but a new online tool makes them available to consumers.

Restaurant blurry interiorThe information provides a snapshot of conditions. In King County, Washington, Sarah Schacht, a member of the the Dine Safe stakeholder group, wanted to know more about how consumers use the information to make dining decisions.

With the help of students from the University of Washington’s Human Centered Design Department, she did some research. What they found was that average ratings posed conundrums. What was it that brought the score down, participants wanted to know. What criteria was used to arrive at the rating?

The survey also found that the date of the inspection was key. Respondents were primarily interested in the most recent score, not older ones.

The rating systes respondents saw as the least useful were star ratings, which they said looked too much like customer ratings and pass/fail ratings which didn’t provide enough information.

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