Traditionally, cab drivers have been considered unfriendly. With the advent of the “gig economy” in recent years, individuals from all walks of life have filled the role of cabbies. Except rideshare drivers only can keep using Uber and Lyft if they avoid bad ratings. Most drivers treat this gig like a business, which means putting yourself first. But how will that affect your driver rating? And why do riders give out bad ratings to drivers so capriciously?
Transportation Network Companies (TNC) like Uber and Lyft supply a service, which is a ride on-demand.
That requires that ridesharing cars be everywhere all at once. The market is so flooded with cars, that these companies have recently started gaining a reputation for their quality of service (or lack thereof). The level of professional service associated with ridesharing can vary greatly, and is different each time the service is requested. Drivers who are intelligent, competent and skillful at their service are being rated poorly and even being deactivated, and unskilled drivers can be hailed as kings.
Therefore, having a good rating is random by nature. It’s based largely on assessment from customers that typically are influenced by irrelevant factors, such as mood, feelings, and outside perceptions (e.g., judging the driver by the kind of car they drive). From what I’ve read, a lot of drivers’ chief complaint about ratings is that they don’t know why it goes up or down! Let’s take a closer look at what goes into a rating from a passenger’s perspective. After using a rideshare app, I’ve always felt that a driver deserves 5-stars unless he/she completely was cold, or gets unreasonably lost. I’ve never had a driver get lost, but friends have told me they’ve been lost for up to 20 min or more. Doing so could result in a navigation feedback.
Slow Down to Stop the Bleeding
Not every driver that’s been rated by me has received 5-stars. So, what do the 4-star drivers do differently to earn just 80% of their potential rating? Nothing significantly different from the 5-star driver, that’s just how the system operates. I have the capability of rating the service that I’m paying for as whimsically and inconsistently as I so desire! Is that a graphic t-shirt I see my driver wearing? 4-stars.
Furthermore, Uber and Lyft do horrible jobs at providing the driver feedback on how to improve their game. Sure, they’ll give you warnings if your ratings start to drop or a customer didn’t “like your attitude”; however, this feedback could apply to anything! As a driver, when I see a feedback warning from Uber following a ride, I hardly ever know what it was specifically that upset the passenger. Was it something I said? As a driver, my objective is to be as consistent and professional as possible because my livelihood depends upon it. It’s important to me to maintain an acceptable rating so that I can continue to generate income. It doesn’t have to be a superb rating mind you. It just has to be high enough to maintain access to the TNC’s app. Some drivers like to “go the extra mile” providing water, an aux cord, etc. Sometimes I do provide those extra little perks to customers; however, I carry at least one water bottle as a reserve. If a passenger happens to request it, I can readily comply with their request. How else can drivers combat the randomness of their passenger’s rating?
Keeping Away from Bad Ratings is Important
First I’ll discuss why you should improve overall bad ratings. I’ve been deactivated from using a TNC’s app before, and it sucks. It’s far more lucrative to work for multiple rideshare companies simultaneously. Each company will throw promotions at you that can be obtained alternatively to increase average weekly earnings. It’s common knowledge not to put all your eggs in one basket, especially working as an independent contractor (IC). So, what should drivers do to improve their ratings? Here are some of my techniques for handling this situation. When my rating(s) begin to drop (as they inadvertently will because of passenger whimsy), I stop driving for that company at such a high rate (e.g., if I’m averaging 100 trips per week with Lyft, I’ll reduce it 50 or 20 trips per week). I like to implement this technique when I notice ratings are following a decreasing trend for several consecutive weeks (e.g., if my rating went from 4.62 to 4.6 to 4.58 across three consecutive weeks). A decreasing trend could lead to deactivation if you let it continue in this pattern.
You might be thinking that only giving out a handful of rides per week isn’t viable to cover operating costs. My response is to put more time into driving with a different TNC’s app. If you notice that Lyft riders are being difficult (i.e., giving out bad ratings) try putting more time on the Uber app, and vice versa. My ratings on the Uber app are fairly steady since I’ve been with them longer, and they take more ratings into account (i.e., the last 500 rides versus 100 rides with Lyft). As a result, each of the few Lyft passengers that I pick up are given more of my overall attention. By only servicing just 5-10 passengers per week (if necessary), I can monitor my ratings much more closely for wild fluctuations or those unwanted decreasing trends.
Every TNC places an Emphasis on Your Driver Ratings
Along these lines, I have been tempering with this strategy for a few weeks and I’ve seen nothing but perfect 5.0 ratings from the handful of people that I service. Try it with the rideshare app that you have a lower rating on! Another advantage to this strategy is that on the weeks that weren’t perfect (i.e., were below a 5.0 rating) I’m able to pinpoint which customers exactly were the misers who dropped 4 stars on me. If necessary, I can even go back and change the customer’s rating (with the Uber app for example) to something much lower if they’re the ones I suspected of 4-starring me. Here’s what that looks like within the app:
They customer doesn’t learn anything, but it’s gratifying at least. Not having control over your own rating as a rideshare driver can be one of the more frustrating aspects about the gig; however, implementing strategies such as the one described above can give drivers’ back some control. The fewer riders you pick up, the less fluctuation (rating randomness) you’ll likely see that week overall.
Drive Your Ratings Up
Here’s another technique to try, when you get into a bad ratings rut: diving head-first into the role of chauffeur. Instead of easing off the one app that is giving you unfavorable feedback, try increasing your workload with that company (e.g., shoot for an average of 200 rides per week if you’re giving out 100 per week). This approach could similarly boost your ratings because the driver “hones their craft” by servicing more rides. It could be that that particular TNC adheres to a different rider culture or has subtle nuances about it that you’re not picking up initially. By attacking it head on you’ll not only become more experienced, but a better driver too! A lot of new drivers just starting out seem to be perplexed by the fluctuations of their ratings. This technique is especially suited for new drivers, because your ratings will inevitably smooth out over time.
Finally, a word of caution when implementing these techniques: rating dives, although often unpredictable, might be exasperated by too much grind. It’s probably best to strike a balance between the two (or more) TNC apps that you’ve integrated into your regular routine. Again, it behooves you to work with multiple TNCs’ apps if you don’t do so already; in case you’re ever confronted with the situations described herein. If you only drive with one app and are having difficulties with maintaining an acceptable rating, the latter strategy may be your only recourse. Driver frustration often stems from lack of control over the policies of the companies they work with (e.g., pay-rates, deactivation threshold, lack of employee status, etc.); however, there are facets which are within control of ICs (e.g., level of involvement). Maximizing the amount of control over your position, by eschewing bad ratings. This can invariably lead to a better understanding of your role and responsibilities. And more positive outlook towards the future, which means happier customers and fewer bad ratings!
Featured image courtesy of The Met on Fifth Avenue, “Pine Tree and Calligraphy” by Ike Taiga (Japanese, 1723–1776)