Companies are Watching You

I’m not talking about targeted advertising.

This morning, LinkedIn left this fascinating article in my inbox. The author, Bill Tancer, does an excellent job of illustrating the changing “ratings” landscape. For years, companies have been adjusting to the real-time review system that they must battle. Now it’s our turn.

Bilateral reviews can serve the critical function of providing a sense of trust. In the case of eBay, Airbnb, Uber, and others that provide reviews in both directions, the parties are on equal footing.

As an agency employee, it’s easy to see how this shift might affect my professional life as well as my personal life. More than anything, it’s just another reminder that in this digital age you are constantly being watched and evaluated… whether as an employee or as a consumer. Does that concept scare or inspire you?

The comments on the article suggest that most readers lean towards scared. Multiple people protest that it’s an invasion of privacy, that we as consumers shouldn’t “audition for the privilege of paying you money.” The flip side is that people become more accountable. There is a basic level of respect that you should offer those who serve you (and yes, that includes tipping your waiter).

But the most glaring problem remains, rating the quality of your experience at a coffee shop is very different from rating the quality of the person you served coffee to. So how can we say they are the same? In fact, the services listed above (eBay, Airbnb, and Uber) are all person to person transactions. The company merely created the connection tool, whether that be an app or a website. For now, the new rating system only enhances the effectiveness of the transaction.

I’m sure the bi-lateral rating movement will continue to grow. My suggestion? No matter how we humanize companies, we (as people) should consciously work to recognize the distinction between a business and a person. Also, be aware that your actions are more important than ever in building your personal brand.