My heart goes out to Betty. She was a mild-mannered saleswoman with a halo of grey curls who rang up a few houseware items for me. I was stunned to get this request to rate her a day later by email. I had to struggle to remember her. I guess our interaction was fairly "seamless," though I did have to wait in line and fish out a credit card. I certainly wouldn't rank it "world-class"–not Betty's fault. So what would that make my rating? A three? A two?
Who said knockout interactions should be the goal, anyway? Sometimes I don't want anything more than a three-star interaction. Perky and relentless five-star pleasantries can be downright exhausting. Take the passive-aggressive "have a nice day!" or the too-friendly waitress who interrupts every story just as you're getting to the punch line. Someone's five is another's three. Trust me, the needs of the general public are varied and unreliable. The general public should not have rating power.
I fantasize that when Betty was growing up in Oklahoma, she learned if you didn't have something nice to say about somebody, you didn't say it at all. It seems to me like living hell that every retail interaction she now has in later life is rated.
Worse than video surveillance, this is attitude surveillance. It is soulless and blood-sucking and has got to stop. Nobody should have to be excellent all the time.
Yet the bottomless maw of voracious big data must be fed. Hotels, restaurants, college reunions, airport security, and Uber drivers all beg for ratings via button, app and email. In fact, some services, like Uber, are rude enough to rate you behind your back. You, the customer! Who knows what other sneaky secret ratings are going on. Did you smile and say thank you as you picked up your latte? Did you make a good shoe statement at that trendy restaurant? Maybe you are actually a three as a customer. Or a two. How does that make you feel?
I can tolerate annoying surveys about places and experiences, but I draw the line at rating humans. It's inhuman. Fight back by giving everyone and everything all stars. Betty, here's five for you.