If you’re a Uber/Lyft user, you’ve probably noticed a recent trend of drivers asking for 5-star reviews at the end of your ride. While this might seem normal for any service where reviews/ratings matter, what you may not know is this: drivers whose ratings hit 4.5 or lower get fired. In other words, when you see the 1-5 stars and click on 4-stars (a good review), you are actually saying “fire this person” to Uber/Lyft.
This, in my opinion, is a very bad use of a ratings system. First, we’ve been trained through our lives that 3 stars = “acceptable”, 4 stars = “good”, and 5 stars = “perfect/great”. For reference, that’s the equivalent of a D, B-, and A+ grade. And an A+ is supposed to be exceptional/rare. Further, if these companies are basically saying “only great drivers can remain employed” – that’s fine, but they need to train the customer in a way that makes sense.
Another example of poorly used 5 stars is Yelp. Ever see a 2-star restaurant on Yelp? Pretty rare. Took a *lot* of searching to find the following:
Any frequent Yelp user knows 4/4.5/5* = likely to be good, 3.5* = worth trying, and 3* and below should be skipped if at all possible. At least this is *closer* to a real review system, but the problem with Yelp lays in the reviewers. I’ve seen reviews of restaurants wherein people only discuss the cocktails at the bar, or give “4* for food, but 1* for service” reviews. This makes no sense as a method of judging a restaurant – and is the core to why professional reviewers exist.
Comparing, for just a moment, to services such as Metacritic and RottenTomatoes:
Very clear ratings, lots of transparency, lots of meaningfulness in gradients. Gives me enough information to make decisions on. Reviewers aren’t liking the above film, but early audiences are. Now I can make a choice and know what I’m getting into. There’s nobody rating a movie because of the popcorn quality in the theater, whether or not the ticketing process went smoothly, or if someone was polite to them or not. So I propose two options:
1. If it’s a pass-fail thing, make it so.
When I get out of a Lyft/Uber ride, it seems that the company wants to know, basically, should this person continue to be a driver? If that’s the question, then just ask it. Pass/Fail – all done. Then if I choose “Fail” they can quickly follow-up, determine the nature of my complaint (bad routing? rude? smelly car?) and take action. Further, drivers can be informed that XX Fails per month = terminated. Also, the same would work in reverse – was the passenger someone who shouldn’t be permitted to continue using the service? If so, determine why, take action, move on.
As an aside, I do think both companies should have a GE-like “bottom 5% of passengers get fired as customers” type of policy. I hear so many complaints from drivers about the rudeness and demands many passengers make it baffles me. Really people? And you wonder how taxi drivers got that way.
2. If it’s a scale, but with nuance – ask different questions.
If Yelp really wants to make scores relevant, the 5-star system should have criteria. For example, users should be asked to rate Food, Service, Ambiance, and an Overall Score. I don’t mind discovering that a place has mediocre food but great drinks and service – but that should be obvious from the get-go.
If Uber and Lyft want to know what I really think about my ride, ask me about the driver’s Safety, Routing, and Politeness (or other factors, as needed). I’ve often found drivers that were super friendly and prompt, but had terrible driving instincts (likely related to the roughly 3% of San Francisco area drivers who actually live here as opposed to Alameda or Sacramento). Compare either service to Tripadvisor:
I’d actually complement Tripadvisor at the single most useful ratings criteria sorting system I’ve ever seen. The simple nuance of sorting based on Vacation versus Business travel is *huge*. I can quickly re-sort the above hotel to ignore Families, and watch how the Traveler Ratings change as a result.
What about being able to set a preference for Lyft/Uber drivers who are rated highly based on Driving as opposed to Social? Or can I please view Yelp reviews, ignoring anyone who dines at a different budget than me? It’s not that any of these ratings or opinions are invalid, just not always helpful when combined and out of context.
In the meanwhile, I’ll go back to seeking out 4.8 or above drivers. Because those 4.7 people are terrible.