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The rationale behind Instacart’s customer ratings revamp

360 Magazine 
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The rationale behind Instacart’s customer ratings revamp

Maybe people were just “hangry.” You know — that portmanteau of “hungry” and “angry” that refers to the emotional fallout from waiting too long to eat. Or, in the case of Instacart shoppers, waiting too long for their groceries to be delivered.

Even if you’ve never used Instacart, you can probably guess how it works: order from your favourite store using the company’s mobile mobile app, have it connect with a nearby shopper to pick your items up on your behalf and then drive them to your door.

The quality of the Instacart experience is usually measured by two things: the amount you tip your shopper, and the number of stars you give them in your review.

This week Instacart released an updated ratings system, however, and one which recognizes the impact of those possibly hangry customers. If people routinely give less than five stars, their reviews will now be filtered out. According to Instacart, this will ensure greater fairness for the shoppers who provide a key part of its CX.

story on The Verge offered more details on the changes:

If a shopper indicates that a customer was rude, Instacart will give them the option to block them from future orders. It’s still not an entirely ideal situation, especially if a driver gets tip-baited and isn’t able to recover their tip, but blocking them does prevent drivers from serving that customer again.

Like Uber and even Airbnb hosts, Instacart relies on third parties who are not salaried staff but essentially independent contractors. That means it has to be careful about how it creates something akin to an employee experience that keeps them both satisfied and loyal.

These moves are not unlike when Uber, after years of focusing on the reviews customers gave its drivers, flipped the script by introducing the ability for drivers to give customers a star rating. The message was clear: it takes two to create a great on-demand transportation experience, just as it does a great grocery delivery experience.

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As much as CX experts will extol the virtues and value of reviews, the innate subjectivity of those stars can be distorted in harmful ways, especially when unreasonable people weaponize them rather than provide meaningful feedback for their peers.

That could be why Instacart has also reducing the requirement to have a five-star rating in order to get first priority on batch orders. Shoppers will now need an average rating of 4.7. In other words, that .3 represents those customer anomalies otherwise known as trolls.

Sharing economy companies like Instacart will probably need to continue evolve ratings systems as demand for their services grow. Face it: a lot of customers probably still like to think that, on some level, they are rating Instacart itself when they choose a particular number of stars. When you’re providing CX through intermediaries, the light of those stars reflect on you whether you like it to not.

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