The first question to ask is "Does a good rating matter?"
And the answer is "Yes, it certainly does."
I've had many passengers comment favourably on my 4.98 star rating, so they have certainly noticed it when they've called for an Uber ride and I've responded.
I believe that it makes them less likely to cancel, more likely to be favourably disposed towards me before I even pick them up and therefore more likely to give me another 5 star rating.
And... When (If?) (a little information from Uber would be great here) we ever get the tipping option in Australia, I believe a good rating will increase the chances of being tipped.
Although this article is about what you should be doing to get and keep your good rating, the first exercise is to monitor your existing rating and delve a little deeper into where it's coming from.
So for starters, tap "RATINGS"at the bottom of the Uber Partner App display to see your STAR RATING, CONFIRMATION RATE and CANCELLATION RATE.
Make a note of your STAR RATING. It's calculated on your last 500 rated rides and it's the measure you're wanting to improve.
It's believed that Uber will consider removing drivers with a rating of less than 4.6. I don't know if this is true or not.
Tap the STAR RATING itself to see the breakdown for the last 500 rated trips.
This gives you the percentage of your riders who have rated you with 5, 4, 3, 2 or 1 stars.
You MUST look at this positively.
It's a learning experience.
If you have a significant percentage of ratings less than 5 star, regard it as an opportunity to ask yourself what you are doing wrong and how you can fix it in the future.
A lot of drivers find this very difficult to do.
Their attitude is that anyone who gives them a low rating is an arsehole.
It's not their fault, it's the pasenger's.
The problem with this attitude is simple.
If it's the passenger's fault, there's nothing I can do to improve it.
If it's my fault, I can analyse it and work out how to make it better.
Can you see how it's a good idea to accept responsibility?
Go back to the first illustration in this post.
See the heading Rider Feedback?
Tap it to see any negative comments riders have made about you here.
Note that only negatives are shown here. Compliments are shown elsewhere and I'll cover them later in this article.
But negatives are really, really important.
If a passenger felt strongly enough to leave you a negative comment, then they have highlighted an issue that you really must address.
They've done you a favour!
I don't know how long negative comments stay there, but the good news is that they don't stay forever.
The "No issues reported" message shown is my current comment, but I've had two in the past.
One related to music. I realised what it was. I had an issue with picking up the rider and had to call her. In order to hear the telephone conversation clearly, I turned my music off, but forgot to turn it back on after finishing the call. So I picked her up, she got in the car, we started the ride and, as an afterthought, I turned the music back on.
Clearly, she objected to my doing that without consulting her first.
Was she a bitch rider with entitlement issues? Probably, but nonetheless I learnt from the experience.
Riders have no problem if the music is already playing when they get in the car.
But if it's not, ask their OK before switching it on. "I turned off the music to call you. Would you like it back on?"
And if they say no, respect it.
The other negative feedback I had was a checkbox.
I racked my brains, but couldn't figure it out. Maybe some smartarse thing I'd said.
I really think Uber should force riders to give more detailed feedback, rather than just check a box.
Let's get into the fun stuff.
Your riders can leave you badges that represent what impressed them most about your service.
I'm always knocked out by this.
As an Uber rider, I would originally not have bothered, but now I love it so much as a driver, I will certainly provide this feedback as a rider in future.
Look at all the people who've rated me as excellent service.
Isn't that going to encourage me to open the passenger door for frail riders, help load luggage into the boot and generally be a good citizen?
Cool Car? I'm going to keep my Jag clean and vacuumed.
Nothing for Top Extras? Maybe I need to provide really nice mints, spring water, Bourbon and Coke and condoms? This area's a bit of a mystery to me. It's a ride in a car, for God's sake. If you have an opinion. I'd love to hear it.
This one's pretty simple.
Go back to the first illustration in this post and click on Driving Style Dashboard.
It will report on how Uber feels about your acceleration, braking and speed.
To be honest, I'm not too fussed about this one.
Clearly, if someone slows down dramatically in front of me, I have to brake.
Coming out of a roundabout, I have to accelerate.
And I have been known to exceed inappropriate speed limits.
While I do like to have a look at this and honestly strive for the three green ticks, I'm not too fussed if I'm marked down on any of them.
It doesn't appear to have any impact in the real world.
To see specific rider compliments, click on Notes in the Rider Compliments screen.
This has two big effects.
1. They really are all compliments, so they'll make you feel good. And that's really important. If you feel good about what you're doing, you are more likely to enjoy it and do a good job.
2. The feedback tells you what you're doing right, so you are more likely to continue doing it. It's a positive feedback loop.
So go the extra mile for your passengers and enjoy the compliments.
And, as I said earlier in this articles, those compliments just might turn into tips when the new Uber Partner App brings the tipping option to Australia.
At the very least, riders who compliment you are more likely to tip you than those who dont.
NEXT: The 7 specific steps you can take to get and then maintain a top Uber Driver rating.
1. Be Nice to Your Passengers
This really sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it?
Yet I get feedback from riders who complain about the rudeness of previous Uber drivers.
Not as many as those who complain about taxi drivers though. Your courtesy as an Uber driver should be one thing that immediately differentiates you from the taxi industry.
And it's really easy. Stuff like -
Greet your passenger by name and with a smile.
Engage in pleasant, non-confronting conversation.
Don't complain about things that can't be helped. Like a difficult pickup location, rain, heavy luggage or a short trip. Complaining won't fix the issue but it just might get you a poor rating.
If you can't be nice, don't be an Uber driver!
2. Keep Your Vehicle (and Yourself) Scrupulously Clean
This means washing your car whenever it needs it and at least once a week, whether you think it needs it or not.
Pay particular attention to glass. Nothing says dirty car like a dirty windscreen. And it's a driving hazard as well.
Vacuum the seats and carpets often. Probably immediately before heading out for an Uber driving "shift". A portable vacuum cleaner powered by a rechargeable battery or directly off your car's 12V charger is a good investment.
And, of course, personal neatness and hygiene are essential.
If you transfer a passenger who leaves an odour behind in your car, drive for a few minutes with your windows open to clear the air.
3. Practice Road Courtesy
If you are nice to other road users, your passengers will simply like you more, but will also feel safer. This is very important.
So if a pedestrian in front of you is trying to cross the road, slow down and wave them safely across.
If another vehicle (even a taxi) wants to change lanes in front of you or is having trouble joining the traffic stream, be the nice guy who backs off and lets them in.
Never, ever give in to road rage and refrain from criticising other road users to your passenger.
And always obey traffic regulations, including speed limits.
4. Help with the Luggage
If I'm transferring passengers with luggage, my practice is to start the trip as soon as I see them approaching and then to get out of the car and open the boot.
From there, it's a matter of judgement.
If the passengers are female or elderly, I'll always offer to take the luggage from them and stack it in the boot.
If they are young, fit guys that might be insulting. But if there's a really heavy suitcase, then taking an end each might be appropriate.
It's all about being as helpful as required.
5. Read the Mood
This is probably the most difficult but also one of the most important.
What does your passenger want (besides getting to their destination safely and comfortably)?
Do they want to chat or would they prefer to ride in silence? Here are some ways to find out.
- If they sit in the front passenger seat, they are more likely to be chatty. Of course, Europeans, Asians and to a lesser extent, Americans are less likely to sit in the front anyway. I've had people ask my permission to sit in the front! I think they've heard that it's common in Australia but find it hard to believe.
- If they are texting on their phone or engaging with an app, leave them alone.
- Mention the weather. "Cracker of a day, isn't it?" or "The rain's welcome, but we've had enough now" and judge by their response whether they want to chat or not.
Are they comfortable? Ask if it's cool enough (or warm enough) for them and adjust the air conditioning if necessary. Even if everything's fine, they'll appreciate being asked.
Similarly with music. Ask if the volume is OK. They might prefer it off or, if the song's a favourite, they might want it turned up.
Again, it's all about reading the mood.
6. Know Your Area
There are many benefits to knowing the area where you do most of your Uber driving like the back of your hand.
First, it eliminates or at least reduces your reliance on GPS navigation. Especially if you're using the Uber navigation, which can sometimes freeze up or temporarily revert to a previous destination.
And the reluctance to u-turn drives me mad. You can be facing North, for example, on a wide road with little or no traffic. A ping comes in and the GPS tells you to head North. After a couple of kilometres, you come to a roundabout and it tells you to take the 4th exit. Because your destination was in fact South.
If you knew your area, you would have u-turned as soon as you accepted the ride and saved maybe five minutes on the pickup leg.
But more importantly, knowing your area inspires confidence in your passenger.
For one thing, you're not constantly looking away from the road to check the map and for another, you can apply local knowledge to the situation. For example, you might choose an alternate route to avoid school pickup congestion.
7. Try to Pickup and Drop Off for Your Passenger's Convenience
If the pickup address shows a street name and number, there's usually no problem. Park directly outside the house and wait if they're not there.
If they haven't shown up after 3 minutes (at which point the Uber app starts charging them for wait time) I'll give them a courtesy phone call.
Don't imply they're at fault (where the hell are you?) Just let them know you're there and wanting to check that you've got the right address. If they say they'll be right out, just reply with "No hurry. Take your time." After all, whatever you say won't make any difference, so may as well be nice, right? And they are being charged for the wait time.
Another reason for calling is that the Uber navigation sometimes gets the address wrong. This can happen, for example, if the rider is at the back of the house when they drop the pin. The address gets recorded at the street at the back but they are waiting in the street out the front. This is annoying but just politely sort it out with a phone call and explain what happened when you've started the trip.
Drop off is simple. Get close to the destination and then ask where they would like you to stop.
So there you have it. My seven tips for getting and maintaining a good Uber rating.
As always, if you have others to share or disagree with any of mine, please leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.