Recently I was working with a Sales Representative who informed me of an incoming survey on which he needed to be rated as 5 out of 5 stars or it would be considered failure. After sharing this information, came a question that greatly irritates me. A question I’ve heard numerous times, worded slightly differently, but the same basic question none-the-less. “What can I do to get a 5 star rating?”
To start, I take great offense at the idea that an individual’s performance can only fall into two categories, perfection (or near perfection) or failure. In what world should we consider the best possible rating the only possible success? For me, a scale of 1 to 5 means a 3 should be fine. When I say fine, I mean I have no complaints; service was fast, courteous and effective. I would argue that probably 75% of interactions should be 3 stars. That’s not a bad thing, in some cases, 4 star type of service is actually getting in my way.
To get a 4, you’re going to have to do something extra, maybe spend extra time understanding my situation so you can make a really effective recommendation, but you better have the knowledge to back it up otherwise you’re better off sticking with fast, courteous and effective. Service that tries to be extra helpful without the knowledge to actually help is worse than not trying.
Getting a 5 out of 5? Now that’s exceptional, something really special. Getting that score from me is incredibly difficult to attain. You need to anticipate things I haven’t even considered. You have to catch me off guard with your attention to detail, your knowledge, your follow-up, etc. If you’re asking me what can be done to achieve a 5 star rating, you’re almost certainly not going to get one. That kind of rating should be reserved for rare cases of excellence. Even a highly capable individual shouldn’t expect to get 5 stars on a regular basis.
I apologize now to future individuals who are looking for 5 star ratings from me. I’m sorry that your company is shortsighted enough to believe that 5 stars is the only acceptable response. I’m sorry that I’m too principled about this to just give you 5 stars since that’s what’s supposed to happen.
Maybe eventually American culture will no longer stigmatize the idea of being “average”. When that day comes, I suspect we’ll finally see the end of grade inflation too.