Dear Fellow Freelancer . . .
I know how hard you work to make your money. I am also a freelancer, and I relate with you in all the minuscule aspects of the freelance life.
I also know that we don’t have a set day to get paid.
We need to build a portfolio of clients to make a sustainable income.
We do not get sick days or personal days.
As entrepreneurs, we also need to work weekends and holidays to meet a deadline or to make up for the hours lost because we had an emergency when we couldn’t work (though I blatantly urge you to take care of your health).
I appreciate all the effort you put in while working on my logo, formatting my children’s book, designing my images, creating my next social-media banner, converting my files. Some of them were exceptionally done and delivered so quickly, it took my breath away.
Despite all of the thrills, there is a fundamental aspect of the package you forgot, and there is no one business that can survive in the long run without it: SERVICE.
What is Service?
According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, service is “to perform any of the business functions auxiliary to production or distribution of” or
“The work performed by one that serves.”
With human evolution, advance of technology, and the demands of the market, nowadays, the concept of service is much broader. Ford, Sturman, and Heaton explains that service includes the different elements of the guest experience that leads to their satisfaction, including the product, the environment, and the delivery system.
Without the perfect harmony of those three elements, the service is flawed, because it doesn’t achieve its main goal.
Service in Action
Imagine you move to a new location and find that place close to home, which serves a delicious pizza.
The one which has the kids begging you to return every day and that you don’t think twice heading to when you don’t want to cook dinner. The one that when you are there, you are acknowledged by the servers and hostess.
You are remembered by the owner, who also greets you warmly.
Your order always comes the way you want it.
The kids are easily entertained by the waiter, who brings crayons and coloring papers for them to play with.
In this example, the level of service coming from the restaurant is unquestionable. Not only do you have the best pizza in town, but the experience blows you away, and in the end, you receive a high level of service.
Would you go back to that same restaurant or become a regular if the waiter was rude to you or your child?
What would happen if your order came out wrong, the waiter snatched your plate from the table almost shoving you, and was not apologetic?
Probably you would think twice about returning, right?
That goes back to the experience during the service. Service is not only about the product that you buy or the activity you receive, but it is also about the entire feel and the receiver’s perception of the experience. In the end, it has to leave a positive impression on you.
The Tale of a Freelancer
Ten years back, while working in the hospitality industry—a service-based area—I was quick to understand that a high level of service is a premise to which owners, managers, staff, service-oriented people conduct their business. This is nonnegotiable. Why? Because a service-oriented business revolves around customer satisfaction, as mentioned before.
When I reflect about services nowadays, where this premise should be even more emphasized—since many people work from home or are their own bosses—this concept is still unclear to some.
Let’s talk sites such as Fiverr, where you will find all types of freelancers from all over the world offering their services. The gigs range from design, marketing, editing, and formatting to VA, book promotion, you name it.
The freelancer’s ratings or how they achieve levels—allowing the seller some perks—depend on the reviews they receive. Thinking objectively, this is not bad since the freelancer will have to make an effort to provide a great service.
But like everything else, there is also a drawback. Because sellers need to make up for the gig’s low fee, they take a lot of orders. Needless to say, some of those providers may rush through the process and do not really care about the outcome.
That’s when we come back to service. What if the freelancer does not understand the concept of service—better yet, a high-quality service?
I regret to say that I see this often.
Fiverr is one of my go-to stops for services on my website and publishing my children’s books. The last time I updated my site and ordered a gig, the seller complained that I gave her a 4.3‑star review (out of 5). WHAT?
She wanted a five. She needed a five.
The provider thought that because she created a beautiful design, she was entitled to a five-star rating. Apparently, for sellers like her, service is defined by delivering a nice version of the product only.
That is where the problem arises. Sellers create an expectation of you, the buyer, leaving a five-star review—so they can keep or increase their ratings and rank higher in Fiverr’s search results—even when the service is just okay.
Don’t get me wrong; I love Fiverr. Especially for those small one-time projects that don’t require a lot of time to perform such as logo design, social-media banner, book formatting etc., you can’t go wrong. Truthfully, I’ve gotten to work with high-level professionals who delivered exceptional service, making me always come back for their particular service.
But this lack of common sense from other sellers in the marketplace drives me bananas.
A Final Note to My Fellow Freelancer
In the end, as a freelancer and entrepreneur, if you insist on a five-star rating, you end up looking like an amateur. Let’s face it: if you know what you are doing and you are confident that you providing the best, do you need to beg for ratings?
You can certainly remind the client to leave you a review, but if you are a real professional, you should not find yourself caught up on that point. It is excessive and off-putting.
As a former reviewer and someone who toiled away in the service industry for many years, I don’t take any service for granted.
My policy with reviews is straightforward: If you expect to receive a five-star review, you will have to earn it. I will rate you for every aspect of your service, which includes product (if applicable), my perception of the service (the experience), how courteous you were, how responsive you were, and if you blew my mind with the service you delivered. Again, this is nonnegotiable.
For you, though, I cannot change the way you provide your services. I can only hope you try to improve on your promises and stop being pushy.
So the next time, you ask for a five-star review, you should think twice. Better yet, don’t think, just act appropriately. Since action speaks louder than words, show, don’t tell. And you will be on the way to a better outcome.
Have you ever experienced similar situation? What did you do? Share your thoughts and comments below.