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Brands Turning the Tables on Consumers and Rating Them Too

Daphne Kasriel-Alexander Profile Picture
Daphne Kasriel-Alexander Bio

Perhaps it was just a question of time before being critical of brands became a two-way street and brands got the chance to rate consumers in the sharing economy. Two high profile examples of hosts rating guests are home-sharing service Airbnb and ride-sharing app Uber, but there are many more.  It’s significant that this more commonplace phenomenon of brands rating customers is impacting on their future buying opportunities, rather like a bad credit rating. Emerging studies already show that consumers are much more cautious about negatively rating their consumption experience if this ‘feedback’ is enabled. Other brands are making their impressions of the customer integral to the service offered.

Part and parcel of the sharing economy?

London financier,  Mr. Kanji, was upset to learn that he had a lower passenger score as he feels his requests as an Uber passenger were all reasonable ones. He told the New York Times:  “I’ve asked drivers to turn up or down heat, to not play music loudly, or to roll up windows” – however he found that he was unable to get a ride for three weeks as drivers preferred not to serve him.

Reviewing customers also raises questions about who owns the data and whether consumers know it is being collected.  Ride-sharing service Lyft does indicate to passengers that “a low star rating” means requests for rides may be turned down. Uber does not mention passenger ratings at all in its user agreement but noted in a blog post that “an Uber trip should be a good experience for drivers too.” Even an Uber executive has been on the receiving end of driver judgement:  “I was at a 5 for a long time, then I had a string of 4 stars” Travis Kalanick, the company’s CEO recently revealed to the San Francisco magazine. “I think what happened was I was a little stressed at work. I was not as courteous as I should have been” he admitted.

My stay was exceptional…

Knowing that they may be rated is making users more polite, and punctual, and often pushes them to submit more positive reviews than they would otherwise offer. They worry that appearing to be an over-sensitive guest will prevent them from being accepted by their home of choice next time round.

A new cluster of academic studies confirm that the existence of brand reviews make many consumers over-complimentary of their consumption experiences. A just-released paper: “A First Look at Online Reputation on Airbnb, Where Every Stay Is Above Average” from Georgios Zervas, Davide Proserpio and John W. Byers of Boston University details how the authors looked at more than 2,000 properties listed on both Airbnb, which allows hosts to rate guests, and TripAdvisor, which does not. They found that on Airbnb, the enthusiasm is much more apparent.  For instance, the number of properties receiving 5 stars, a perfect score, is 18% higher.

A dating profile based on the impression YOU make

Profiles on new smartphone app “imgegenteil”- “on the contrary” in German and called “the slow dating movement” by its founders - features pictures shot by the app’s co-creators taken in the candidate’s home. Each page also features a profile summarising the interviewer’s impression of the candidate.


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