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Understanding the difference between 4 and 5 stars


hzsmith

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It's been said numerous times, by numerous people & even staff on the forums, that offering a little extra could help our performance in terms of score and ranking. It's been heavily debated on why should sellers provide more than they were asked for and that's agreed on the mutual contract beteween the parties that is formed when the customer accepts the offer. 

I understood both sides. I had really succesful collaborations when delivering a little extra, and customers returned with more projects, and left fantastic feedback, but at the same time, I felt that is not really fair on the seller's side to be pressured to deliver extra, just to get that 5/5 review instead of the 4/5 review, since I saw the 5/5 as the contract's obligations were succesfully met, and the work was done as agreed.

This week, I've put myself in buyer's shoes, and ordered something trough Fiverr, being on the other side of the contract. Our contract was specifying that I will get 50 variations of an image, in 48 hours, and the images will be in a certain format, for the specified price. So, if we take these essential conventional obligations, it's safe to say, I should've been expecting our contract to meet the following essential elements:

  • 50 items
  • 48h deadline
  • .PSD format
  • The price

I've recieved the delivery in 48 hours ✔️, the ZIP file contained 50 items ✔️, all the items were in .PSD format ✔️, and no other extra prices were charged ✔️.

Then, after publicly rating the order, I've recieved the email from Fiverr, asking me to privately rate that specific order. One of the questions was asking me how do I feel about the seller providing the ordered service. Now the interesting part is, that the 4/5 option corresponds to "As Expected", while the 5/5 option corresponds to "Exceeded Expectations". I was surprised and shocked by my initial reaction, because I've clicked on "As Expected". Then I snapped out of it and remembered how important are these private reviews for us, sellers, and quickly selected 5/5 on everything. 

Let's analyze this a bit. I am a seller here, that is aware on the importance of reviews and more importantly, private reviews. With this in mind, when reading the tags above the number of stars I could've selected on that question, my first instinct was to click on "As Expected", because everything was exactly as expected, the above-mentioned contractual obligations being fulfilled. Now just think on how the average customer, who is not a seller here and doesn't have the knowledge on how impactful can a single review be, perceive that!

Taking the example from above, for the 5/5 "Exceeded Expectations" to be 100% objectively justified, I should've recieved in fact 51 items, or recieve them in 24 hours, or the formats included .PNG format besides the agreed .PSD one.

Then, we can make a hot take conclusion that the 5/5 rating is not at all justified if we only deliver the agreed work, in the agreed terms. 

I also thought about it as an analogy with school grades since a good friend of mine is a History school teacher. I've asked him when do he grades students A+ instead of A? He told me that if the student performs well on the test, and responds with the expected answers, the grade is A, and if the student elaborates more (and accurate) on side topics that have direct implication in the subject of the specific questions, he rates them A+, because they exceeded expectations.

With that in mind, I came to the conclusion that if I want to recieve a 5/5 review, I should exceed the expectations of the customer, by providing a little extra than was initially agreed on in our contract (be it in the number of deliverables, shorter delivery time, different services that were not agreed on initially, different formats etc). Otherwise, the 5/5 review is not objectively justified.

I'm not here to bash on the way the feedback system is implemented, and debate on how the questions or the visual elements that the customer face when they have to rate us are set, since that already happened a few months ago on the forums, and I have no interest in rioting about that. If these are the rules, and this is how they are now, we should do our best to understand them and use them to our advantage.

This experience changed my whole perspective about how the ratings should be perceived and how customers perceive that. For some of you this might be very obvious, but for those who didn't realised this yet, I hope the above mentioned example would help you improve your collaborations with your buyers, and increase your chances of success.

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Posted (edited)

And then one bad private rating (no matter if it was a random star from the buyer or due to buyer fault) and you're out of business for months, and all your extra efforts are gone in vain. The system itself is not designed in a way that credits or rewards you for your extra efforts over all these years.

From my perspective: The "extra" should refer to "extra efforts" in the work that is in scope, and not the "extra material."

I am sure that every buyer will love 50 materials with extra effort instead of 51 materials with mediocre quality. And sorry, but not everyone has the energy to provide both (extra effort and extra material). The time and energy is limited!

Edited by rawque_gulia
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15 minutes ago, hzsmith said:

Then, after publicly rating the order, I've recieved the email from Fiverr, asking me to privately rate that specific order. One of the questions was asking me how do I feel about the seller providing the ordered service. Now the interesting part is, that the 4/5 option corresponds to "As Expected", while the 5/5 option corresponds to "Exceeded Expectations". I was surprised and shocked by my initial reaction, because I've clicked on "As Expected". Then I snapped out of it and remembered how important are these private reviews for us, sellers, and quickly selected 5/5 on everything. 

If it didn't exceed expectations should you be clicking that "exceeded expectations" though? You could also not leave a private rating so it might not affect the private rating score. In the public rating it's called "exceptional" according to the help: https://help.fiverr.com/hc/en-us/articles/25077475528081-Reviews-and-ratings-for-buyers - maybe one day Fiverr will change it to say something similar in the private rating.

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9 minutes ago, rawque_gulia said:

And then one bad private rating (no matter if it was a random star from the buyer or due to buyer fault) and you're out of business for months, and all your extra efforts are gone in vain. The system itself is not designed in a way that credits or rewards you for your extra efforts over all these years.

Totally agree! But are you going to abandon something you can proactively do to objectively increase your chances, only because someday, someone will put you out of business with a bad private rating? I mean, isn't it better to do everything in your power to do better than to say "why should I bother, when the end is near?".

17 minutes ago, rawque_gulia said:

From my perspective: The "extra" should refer to "extra efforts" in the work that is in scope, and not the "extra material."

I am sure that every buyer will love 50 materials with extra effort instead of 51 materials with mediocre quality. And sorry, but not everyone has the energy to provide both (extra effort and extra material). The time and energy is limited!

Indeed! But in my opinion, that couldn't be objectively true and quantifiable, since the customer won't 100% know if you put some extra effort in the final product of his order, while he can objectively quantize the number of deliverables recieved. I'm not saying that delivering more files is better than delivering better work, but statistically, the chances of people realising a difference in numbers (from the above example: 50 vs. 51 deliverables) is higher than people realising a difference in "quality" of the work. Theoretically, they should expect the same quality as the samples shown in our gigs.

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17 minutes ago, uk1000 said:

If it didn't exceed expectations should you be clicking that "exceeded expectations" though? 

That's exactly my point here! I should not be clicking on that, since it did not exceeded my expectations.

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9 minutes ago, hzsmith said:

Totally agree! But are you going to abandon something you can proactively do to objectively increase your chances, only because someday, someone will put you out of business with a bad private rating? I mean, isn't it better to do everything in your power to do better than to say "why should I bother, when the end is near?".

That's the thing! I am not abandoning anything. Even if I am not providing extra, I only have very few 4-star reviews in the lifetime. So, not providing extra didn't punish me "in any way" --- and on the other hand, providing extra is not giving any rewards. Clients leaving 4 or 5 stars is completely subjective, and it's okay to normalize receiving a few 4 stars on the profile (instead of putting yourself under the burden of extra work). It's better to save 1 hour of that extra work and put it towards family, friends, or somewhere else more productive.

Basically, not providing anything extra doesn't harm you in any way. The client doesn't even want that extra! I am from the 3D modeling field, and if someone asks me to create a 3D model, I just deliver it. There's no need to deliver two models or offer anything extra. How stupid would it look if someone is asking for a model of a chair and I am also giving a table into extras?

Whether you're providing extra or not, you're still in the same boat and in the same shoes. You'll always get a few 4-star ratings, no matter what.

The issue lies with the "system." It's not designed in a way that rewards us (or at least motivates us) to provide extra. Right now, people are simply seeking options and engaging in extra work on a platform that constantly surprises you doesn't make any sense.

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Posted (edited)

I work with serious, professional buyers (or at least I try to). What a company / corporate client expects from me is to deliver what was agreed to, on budget, and on time. That's it. Delivering "extras", just because, is unprofessional. This is not a flea market. This is a professional services platform.

The issue here is 5 stars being "exceed expectations". That's wrong. I should never exceed expectations. I should match expectations precisely - that's what perfection in a professional context is. Otherwise, why waste my time trying to understand the client and align their expectations? 

Delivering what you agreed to (and what you have been paid to do, extra work should cost extra money) shouldn't lower your score in any way. That the system is designed to give 4 stars to delivering what the client bought is the problem. That isn't acceptable.

Edited by visualstudios
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1 minute ago, rawque_gulia said:

That's the thing! I am not abandoning anything. Even if I am not providing extra, I only have very few 4-star reviews in the lifetime.

Public ones, yes! But the above mentioned example was talking about the private ones. 

2 minutes ago, rawque_gulia said:

How stupid would it look if someone is asking for a model of a chair and I am also giving a table into extras?

That's a great example. I think your customer would actually appreciate you sending them an extra 3D model of a related asset that might help them develop their project further. I work with audio, and if my customer asks for recordings of marbles rolling on wooden surface, and I provide them that, as well as a recording of marbles rolling on plastic surface, that might help them in the next phase of their game, where the level includes plastic surfaces. I really think that the two assets you mentioned complement each other. 

8 minutes ago, rawque_gulia said:

The issue lies with the "system." It's not designed in a way that rewards us (or at least motivates us) to provide extra. Right now, people are simply seeking options and engaging in extra work on a platform that constantly surprises you doesn't make any sense.

And as I mentioned above, the objective of this post is not to demand change or bash the "system", but to try to take advantage of it's rules, and make the best of what we have, since it's already here and impacting our daily activity. 

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Posted (edited)
Just now, hzsmith said:

That's a great example. I think your customer would actually appreciate you sending them an extra 3D model of a related asset that might help them develop their project further. I work with audio, and if my customer asks for recordings of marbles rolling on wooden surface, and I provide them that, as well as a recording of marbles rolling on plastic surface, that might help them in the next phase of their game, where the level includes plastic surfaces. I really think that the two assets you mentioned complement each other. 

And who's paying for the hours of work needed to make an extra 3D model? You're joking, surely?

Edited by visualstudios
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Just now, visualstudios said:

And who's paying for the hours needed to make an extra 3D model? You're joking, surely?

Well, I guess not every one of us have a professional and well established customer base that sustains our income. Since I've had just under 300 orders until now, I see this not as a "waste of time" but as an investment into my growth and as a greater chance to build long term collaborations with potential returning professionals. Maybe I'm naive for doing that, but it's one of the few things I can proactively do, besides the work itself, to increase my customer base.

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1 minute ago, hzsmith said:

potential returning professionals

Professionals will want to receive what they bought and asked for. A professional knows what they need, and they don't need (or want) extras. If they did, they would have asked for them. That's what professionalism is.

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Just now, hzsmith said:

Well, I guess not every one of us have a professional and well established customer base that sustains our income. Since I've had just under 300 orders until now, I see this not as a "waste of time" but as an investment into my growth and as a greater chance to build long term collaborations with potential returning professionals. Maybe I'm naive for doing that, but it's one of the few things I can proactively do, besides the work itself, to increase my customer base.

To be honest, all you are doing by offering extras for free is devaluing your product and service.

 

Now the client will expect you in the future to do the same amount for the same price. They will see you as underperforming if you do less work after you added in extra for free.

 

I always think about it in 'builders' terms. Does a builder do things for free? Would he expect payment late? Would a builder work over contractual hours?

 

No.

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, cubefix said:

To be honest, all you are doing by offering extras for free is devaluing your product and service.

Precisely this. This "offer more than you're getting paid for" reeks of the "stay at your desk after 5 every day working for free in a regular job, in the hopes you will be promoted one day". It's a bad mentality, not only for the individual, but for everyone else working there. It sets up the wrong expectations, and it's a race to the bottom.

If everyone offers one extra, then that becomes the baseline. So me, to stand out, will offer 2 extras. Then that becomes the baseline. Take it to the limit, do everything for free, forever.

What happened to "do a good job at what you were hired to do, deliver exactly what you agreed to and were paid for, and that is enough"? Because that sounds very fair to me.

Edited by visualstudios
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16 minutes ago, hzsmith said:

I see this not as a "waste of time" but as an investment into my growth and as a greater chance to build long term collaborations with potential returning professionals.

And that's fine - you're free to do that, and I'm not saying it can't work.

What I'm saying is that it should not be expected, and sellers who do not do it, shouldn't be harmed in any way in their reviews.

In other words, 5 stars shouldn't be "exceeded expectations", it should be "met expectations perfectly". That's the issue here.

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9 minutes ago, visualstudios said:

If everyone offers one extra, then that becomes the baseline. So me, to stand out, will offer 2 extras. Then that becomes the baseline. Take it to the limit, do everything for free, forever.

Well, according to (RO) National Law, this is basically the deffinition of a competitive market. This is how actually things work, and it's objective is customer's satisfaction. 

 

13 minutes ago, visualstudios said:

What happened to "do a good job at what you were hired to do, deliver exactly what you agreed to and were paid for, and that is enough"? Because that sounds very fair to me.

It is the very fair thing. But what are we going to do when the market will demand, as you mentioned "2 extras"? I'm gonna pull out a Gordon Ramsay and ask "HAVE YOU GAVE UP?"

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17 minutes ago, hzsmith said:

chance to build long term collaborations with potential returning professionals

1. 68% of my income is coming from repeat clients (without giving anything extra).

2. Next time, you go to a barber shop, try to get a free facial with a haircut —- or get 1 extra shirt stitched from a tailor, and you will get all your answers.

Full stop! 

 

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Posted (edited)
6 minutes ago, hzsmith said:

But what are we going to do when the market will demand, as you mentioned "2 extras"

I'm going to seek a new market, that has realistic expectations. If needed be, I'll make that market. It's what I'm starting to do this year, btw, and seeing some pretty good results so far. There will always be people out there trying to take advantage - and there will always be good, fair clients out there as well. It's a matter of finding them.

Edited by visualstudios
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1 minute ago, rawque_gulia said:

2. Next time, you go to a barber shop, try to get a free facial with a haircut —- or get 1 extra shirt stitched from a tailor, and you will get all your answers.

This example looks like the customer is actively asking for something free. But the whole point was to deliver extra, without anyone asking for anything. 

(And funny thing, the barber that I go to since 2020, cut my beard for free after giving me the haircut first time I went to her shop, and I still go to that barber to this day. This example couldn't have been better for this right now. Was it the fact that I recieved something for free, or the fact that I appreciated she took the time to do that for free, that motivated me to go there again, or the haircut itself? I don't know, but for her, it did more good than harm).

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Posted (edited)
4 minutes ago, hzsmith said:

And funny thing, the barber that I go to since 2020, cut my beard for free after giving me the haircut first time I went to her shop, and I still go to that barber to this day.

And that is fine - standard marketing tactics. That's not the issue here.

The issue here is the system being designed to have you rated at 4 stars if you do not do that, and that 4 stars is considered bad by the system.

Your barber's business would not be harmed if they did not do that. You wouldn't go and leave a 4 star review on yelp (or whatever the barber review system is) if they gave you a great haircut but did not offer the beard for free. And even if you did, that would not tank their business. That's the problem here - the platform is designed to force you to do that, regardless of if you want to or not. Whereas if you are a barber, you're free to run your business however you want, and there's no rating system explicitly classifying your work as 4 stars if you delivered what you promised.

Edited by visualstudios
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Just now, visualstudios said:

the platform is designed to force you to do that, regardless of if you want to or not. 

Yes! And if you knew you could have a competitive edge by doing that (basically playing to the rules imposed by the specific market, in this case, Fiverr), why wouldn't you do it? 

It's very disheartening to see that the objective of this post was to try to take advantage of the already existing ruleset, and make the best out of it (which is something positive and hopefully constructive), and it turned into bashing and rioting on the ruleset again. I don't agree myself with this ruleset, but I'm trying to make the best out of it. 

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Posted (edited)
2 minutes ago, hzsmith said:

It's very disheartening to see that the objective of this post was to try to take advantage of the already existing ruleset, and make the best out of it (which is something positive and hopefully constructive), and it turned into bashing and rioting on the ruleset again. I don't agree myself with this ruleset, but I'm trying to make the best out of it. 

Because if a rule system is wrong, you should fight to change it, not go along and try to take advantage of it. That's the issue. What you propose is a race to the bottom. That becomes worse for everyone the more people start doing it.

If nobody offers free stuff, eventually everyone will drop to 4, we will all be on equal standing, and the rule will change or it won't matter to be at 4.

If everyone offers free stuff, eventually we will all be working extra for free, in exchange for.... nothing.

Edited by visualstudios
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In addition to what others have said, offering a little extra (or a lot of extras, as some sellers do) can be a double-edged sword. Sometimes, buyers don't like the delivered work, or it isn't what they wanted, but if the seller did all that extra work, that buyer would feel uncomfortable at the idea of requesting revisions (even more work), so they just close the order, perhaps give a glowing public review... And a not-so-good private feedback.

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