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Do you think your Uber driver is rating you? Do you care? I don’t care at all — in fact I think it’s a good thing, so I was surprised to read in a Harvard Business Review article that some people are very anxious about it.

I have consciously enjoyed being rated since the first Hailo journey I ever booked (Hailo also ask the employee to rate the customer — as do Airbnb and OpenTable). In fact, it seemed like an important part of the magic — there was now a feedback loop running in both directions. I am convinced this engenders a greater sense of trust and respect: we are known to each other instead of being completely anonymous, like ships in the night.

Remember the bad old days? Cabbies were — every man jack of them — a bunch of f****d-up racist haters.

Then came ratings.

Now you’ll find it hard to track down a racist cabbie inside the M25. And of course ratings cut both ways. If — as a cab driver — you know that I am (a) not going to do a runner, and (b) not going to puke in the back of your car you will probably be more inclined to be pleasant to me.

I have not puked in the back of a cab since I became aware of ratings, whereas as I used to puke on nearly every journey, *and* run away without paying (but only if we were travelling south of the river, where I believe it is still legal).

Less racism. Less puke to be deep cleaned away. All good.

But no! It turns out that some people simply can’t stand being rated 4.8 out of a maximum possible 5. For some, ratings create extreme anxiety. The article in HBR suggests that this is because they don’t know how to influence the score — or put another way, to win.

Seriously? If you need to ‘win’ at Uber customer ratings, you need more than a cab ride my friend.

I’m not sure how useful the data might be to Uber or Hailo or similar companies — but as a minimum it must provide at least a crude, live signal about whether things are generally going well, or badly. If it can also be shown to increase trust levels, and remind the passenger and the driver they need to treat each other more like human beings that’s got to be a good thing.

Worrying about how you might game your Uber rating is just a new form of extreme digital status anxiety. You must resist it.

The HBR piece hams it up magnificently with the headline “Yes, Your Uber Driver Is Judging You”, and an image of a driver staring weirdly at you with what are clearly ‘psycho-eyes’, silently judging you whilst driving.

Tim Malbon

Tim Malbon

Tim founded influential digital product design company Made by Many in 2007. He’s a leading voice in the emerging practice area of product design and innovation, customer experience and business strategy. He’s the Webby Awards UK Ambassador and a member of the IADAS, and was recently named by Creative Review as one of the 50 Creative Leaders "driving change, not just within their organisation but in the world at large."


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