Ratings of a Five Star Society

Whether it’s a purchase from Amazon or eBay, a host with Airbnb, an Uber Driver or a Netflix movie — every day of my life I am rating someone or something. Many of my reviews are given with thoughtful consideration, but the truth is, if I like the service or product I tend to give everyone and everything a five-star rating. In my mind of rating systems there is no in-between. The exception might be movies on Netflix.

Anyone who knows me will tell you that I am a person whose intent is to spread love and joy and I operate with thoughtfulness and integrity. I use a plethora of emojis in my text messages with my friends and err on the side of empathy for all. I aim to deliver 150%, but I am human. I am not a Data Insights or Algorithm guru nor am I am Product Marketing expert. So why am I writing an article about product and service review? I recently received a professional feedback rating of 4.7 (out of 5). My reaction to being less than a “five?”

When I dropped out of the corporate world, I jumped into the gig economy model of work and live in the peer-to-peer sharing network. I jumped in with both feet, I never looked back, and I have no regrets. All I knew is that I wanted freedom. It was a stroke of luck that I came upon the online work platform oDesk, now known as Upwork. I was not intentionally pursuing a career that used a star rating system. It came with the gig. Within a short time, I rose to the top of Upwork freelancers in my field and gained the coveted “Top Rated” seal along with a “success score” in the upper 90’s (another one of those algorithms). Before you knew it, I had pages and pages of glowing reviews and five-star ratings next to my name. I was in the game!

Now, did I always warrant that five-star rating? Probably not in the beginning and I do not hit it out of the ballpark with every project, but true to my personality, I tend to over deliver and I always make sure that my customer is happy. I am the Uber driver with the spotless car, bottled water, and drives and chats politely all while getting you to your destination on time and for the best rate. Does he live for his five-star rating? He would not have his personal Uber business without it, that’s for sure. Or is he just a really nice guy, good at what he does, and loves his location-independent freedom career? Probably a bit of both.

I have spent the majority of my career in the field of Human Resources and corporate work and have participated in just about every type of employee/manager review there is. It is rare that an employee receives a perfect evaluation year after year. Our gig economy places people into the category of self-employed business-owner and we are subject to the same fear inducing Yelp and Google reviews. Did I see that coming when I jumped into freelancing on a platform like Upwork? No. It’s a whole other ballgame out there, folks!

I live a freedom-based life and created a location-independent career that allows me to work one-on-one with my clients and provide top-notch customer service. I am not forced to take on more clients than I can handle at any one time, and I can say “no” to projects that I am not interested in or not capable of delivering on. It’s a good life. Three years later, I have my own consulting business and rarely take on projects through online platforms because I don’t have the time.

So, you may be wondering about that 4.7 rating I received the other day. A former client of mine contacted me to do another small project for him. He was “impressed” with the outcome, sent me a lovely email, and wrote a positive review on Upwork along with a “less-than-five” feedback score. Was it a mistake? Was he using his mobile phone and accidentally hit 4 stars rather than five? Or, was there something missing in my work. I am going to reach out to him to find out why because it’s an opportunity for me to grow and improve.

Feedback is powerful. In today’s gig economy, many people’s careers and livelihoods depend on the five-star rating system. We need to give careful thought and consideration when providing it. As someone once told me: Say what you mean, mean what you say, and don’t say it mean. Also, hitting the “pause button” is a skill that I have acquired with age.

Belinda is a Career Communications Strategist, Personal Branding Consultant, Writer, and World Traveler living her dream career while helping others to find theirs.You can connect with her at www.linkedin.com/in/belindabernhard