5-Star or 1-Star? Who really cares?

Often nowadays our personal value is more so ascertained from the ratings of others. The likes on our Facebook or LinkedIn posts, the ‘hearts’ in our Instagram and Twitter posts, say much as to how agreeable we are, the level of engagement and support we have in a digital world. What is (or was) your klout social influence score?

The dopamine release we gain from a follower giving us a virtual thumbs up is quite addictive, just like someone who has lost their life savings on pokies needs … just … one … more … spin (More >). Plus it seems hard to have a product or service experience without being asked for endorsement via a rating or a Google review – “Please tell us we are awesome!”

We are being asked exponentially to do more ‘surveys’ than ever before, but this ain’t any level of deep, independent strategic research or consumer insight to make products and services better. Such game changing strategic insight doesn’t come from a single five star rating. It most certainly does not. The pioneers of market research must be rolling in their graves. Questions flying everywhere, without typically any care, depth or impact. Shallow insights seems to very much the trend, so de rigueur.

Rating please
5 STAR!?

The likes of uber and airBnB have reciprocal ratings – customers rating the service, and customers then being rated for their performance as a customer. Do such ratings make for better service and customers or people with faux smiles, politeness and bottling up the real them? Don’t parents teach their children to be themselves, not their faux selves?

I can recall recently tapping a 🙂 on the five face interface at the exit, as I was ‘on the run’ out of a servo. Then felt quite dirty at the realisation I’d being faux smiled by the person behind the counter. They must have had a ‘how to smile to customers professional development day’ yesterday. On turning back, I realised the service person seemed to be wearing a ‘smile mask’ or the Botox had set hard.

Shallow measures of our societal worth personally or professionally rarely have any correlation with the depth of who we are and how we may be able to make ourselves and businesses better. Likely the ratings of others are the ego, dopamine and driver to how we feel about ourselves. Be this boards seeking the feel good of rising NPS. Heaven help a downward trend! Or, individuals getting a sense of their social standing based on the like of their community of friends, family and acquaintances.

A level of feedback fatigue starts to grow, particularly when the feedback is perceived to have little if any impact on making anything better for ourselves and other customer. Do such measures provide any depth of knowledge to actually drive improvement?

How many of the businesses asking for such feedback actually make any improvements as a result? Or, is it more so about ego – “are we okay, please say yes?” Generally speaking businesses assume the NPS will just ever go up organically from simply measuring it, no need to make actual improvements, that’s expensive. Other than perhaps if your Uber rating slips you may be banned as a driver or passenger. And, is the faux friendly really worthy of five-stars? Friendly to hack the system, not to actually give a _uck.

And, what if you really don’t know if the service was good or not? You fixed my car, as I asked – 3 out of five? Or, I paid to go from A > B, it was the normal time and normal cost – 3 stars? Or do we give them 4 or 5 for the good karma – you rate me high, and I’ll rate you high. Just like the ‘Nosedive’ Black Mirror episode – everyone paranoid of a poor rating, and the social standing implications this may have. Can we really trust when nice is likely well trained and practiced more so for a 4+ out of five, rather than any sense of organic nice?

Black Mirror | Nosedive Featurette [HD] | Netflix

We can become so worried about not being our true, real, sometimes grumpy self, that we just bottle up what we really think, until it just EXPLODES in a massive melt down.


‘Nosedive’ Black Mirror episode

Oh, for that time way back when the shop keeper, driver et cetera just gave good service, likely hired for their predisposition for a service role, to care, to drive drunk people home safely, organically. We once digested our pie with sauce or crashed in bed after a big boozy night, without being forced to recount the ‘experience.’ Why can’t ‘thank you’ be enough? Have we really become so needy of affirmation? Like a puppy – “Good boy, yes you are…!”

Why can’t we just be real and not give a crap what others think? Like our parents often encourage – BE OURSELVES. In a world searching for like’s and hearts, self worth is measured by others. And, the fact is that life isn’t about perceptual joy, typically that is a symptom of mental illness or excessive drug use. Not every service experience is good, and that’s just fine. You just use another product or service maybe if it isn’t great, or appreciate the staff may just be having a bad day, as we all do sometimes. Perhaps we don’t say thank you that day. Remember when thank you was enough praise?

The reality of life is a balance of joy and crap.

The in between for service is a bit blurry. We might know what a joyful ‘5’ experience is, or a crap ‘1’ experience is, but do we really have sufficient subjective sophistication to know the difference between a 2, 3 and 4 experience. Perhaps we need to cut the crap.

If an experience is organically joyful, human nature is to tell our friends, that’s great.

If it was totally crap, similarly we will likely warn our friends, that’s not great.

Perhaps the key is just to employ appropriate staff, selling a good product?

Human nature is to exaggerate the crap and miss the joy. Perhaps businesses need to be a bit less needy in asking for a review before asking “less us we were awesome!” (SMS: beep, beep …). Make it easy to report the extremes of joyful or crap experiences.

If the customer really wants, otherwise just get out of the way and stop being so needy, it is a bit unsettling, trust you hired well. Don’t be SO desperate to capture manufactured joy of a few customers to make your business suck less.

Recently I heard of a customer of a high-end jeweller replacing expensive (perhaps priceless) items stolen in a house break-in through an insure claim. On picking up the new jewellery, many thousands of dollars worth, before they’d even hit the mall … (beep, beep … “please give us a Google Review”). Apparently that customer was generally happy, up until the beep, beep, but they ain’t going back, and told many of her friends – how needy, how gauche. Yes, retail is tough, but is being needy the path to growing sales?

When service isn’t organic it just feels needy, and it will be a sad day when such desperation doesn’t feel a bit awkward. It’s hard enough having needy friends and family, never mind needy products and services – “it is not about you!” In this world, we’re all caught up in our own heads. It’s easy to lose sight of what’s real, what matters. If we have a good service, we will reward them by coming back, and telling our real friends with our actual mouths. Rather than needy business ruining the experience with digital “are we okay?”

If you really care about your customers, how about diving a bit deeper that 5-stars? If you truly care about your customers be more strategic and deep and much less needy and annoying. Consider independent professional research and consumer insight to make products and services better. And, please value yourself beyond your social media followers, likes and your uber driver. You are special just the way you are 1-star or 5.

Keep it real.

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