Meet your new boss
Digital commoditization growth has employed a new genre of ruthless bosses: customers. With the explosive upswing of user-rated app service platforms, customers unofficially have begun managing employee performance. The free feedback supplies companies like Uber and Upwork with immediate metrics.
Are the customers literally always right?
Customers gain complete power over employee assessment by rating performance with a numerical value; often, the process is as simple as choosing one to five stars on a touchscreen. The platform creates a one-sided paradigm where the employees’ opinions and explanations are unconsidered.
In one case, an Uber driver turned away a customer for drinking in her vehicle. The customer flamed the driver’s rating and Uber deactivated her account until she had completed a training course. She was merely following the rules – Uber doesn’t allow drivers to have open alcohol containers in a moving vehicle, and neither do most states.
Quick ‘n’ dirty
The numerical rating system rarely accounts for rater’s reasons and when it does, it’s much more complicated to quantify circumstantial commentary. In this case, the customer most certainly was not right.
An employee should never be punished for refusing to break the law.
That sense of consumer high ground could easily extend to ratings based on sexist or racist feelings and remain forever unchecked. A company should have a moral obligation to restructure its assessment system to serve its employees as effectively as its customers. But the current situation suggests a level of company infrastructure purposely undeveloped to cut costs and mainstream product evaluation (employee performance) as quickly as possible.
You can bet your bottom dollar ratings systems are here to stay.
In the land of day trading, startups, and internet celebrity, instant gratification is as much a part of this generation’s culture as it is intricately flawed.
More realistically, the ratings systems are going to trend towards the more personal.
Earlier this year, the highly-criticized app Peeple was released, albeit in a more diluted form than previously announced in 2015. The app was originally pitched as a personal rating system; in other words, it was a veritable Yelp for humans. In fact, in its early form, users were prompted to specify whether the relation was professional, personal, or romantic. With the newer iteration of the app, people now have control over what comments are visible.
The omnipresent reviewing platform giant Yelp has been hugely successful in facilitating the user rating-and-review process. They feature not only tools to help promote businesses, but a talkback option where employees can interface directly with customer criticism to either alleviate or embroil themselves in problem resolution. Perhaps a more finely tuned version of Yelp’s platform could connect customers and employees in a growing freelance workforce more effectively. Imagine a hybrid of Yelp and Peeple where employees and customers are rolled into one digital personnel, complete with personal and professional ratings and recommendations.
It’s a brave new world.
We can either choose to develop tools to use our technologies for kind and effective interactions, or we can operate every person for themselves.
In the meantime, though, it couldn’t hurt to be a thoughtful a consumer. Consider your own livelihood the next time a business interaction is reduced to a two-second finger tap.