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Job Success Score dropping nearly 20% without any explanation

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Community Guru
Tonya P Member Since: Nov 26, 2015
21 of 34

30% of your contracts have no feedback. That may have tipped you into the 'excessive number' range for no-feedback contracts. You also indicated that you issued a refund. So that's a no-payment contract which definitely brings your score down. What is your "clients who would recommend" score? The list of what is included in one's JSS score includes all these factors. 

 

What could CS do to be more clear? Refunding, excessive no feedback--these will drop your score. 

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Brandon H Member Since: Feb 17, 2019
22 of 34

Hi Tonya,

 

 


Tonya P wrote:

...What could CS do to be more clear? Refunding, excessive no feedback--these will drop your score. 



I'm sorry it took me a little while to respond to your questions.  I would like to thank you, as I have all of the others who took time to respond, for your willingness to help me.

 

I really wanted to give it some thought before I answered because if there happen to be any CSRs reading these threads (I haven't been on here nearly long enough to know about that yet), I want them (and hopefully their managers) to see things from my user experience, and because I think you (and they) deserve a well-thought-out, honest response to a very good question.  

First, I've already outlined previous posts that my initial state of panic because, as far as I knew, I'd been doing work that has satisfied my clients very much in the last couple of months, and to see my score drop that dramatically was pretty upsetting.  My brain, being what it is, immediately jumped to "What did I do wrong?" and "What are people saying about me behind my back?" (As an aside - I went on a whole diatribe about private feedback earlier in this thread, but, for the record, now that I understand it's pretty much just the "would recommend" percentage - not some "trash the freelancer" form that clients get to fill out and claim all kinds of misinterpretable nonsense - I'm okay with it.  I think it's actually a great idea as is - provided the "trash the freelancer feature" never shows up, of course)

 

Now, of course, my personal anxiety issues are not CS's fault, but there is a certain sense of powerlessness that comes with the type of generalized responses to which I'm referring, and a sense of powerlessness is never good for one's anxiety - and an anxious customer is probably not a satisfied one.

So let's talk about CS's responses.  We've already hashed through the reasons why the "exact calculations" (or "Colonel's Secret Recipie" as I've come to think of it) can't be given out - some A#$H*^s  would figure out a way to create a bot to artificially manipulate their JSS.  Okay.  Fine.  I buy into that reasoning.  Here's where I really had a problem.

 

Getting a response in which essentially the only thing the CSR does is repeat the policy listed on the FAQs (which I'd already read when I had to take my UpWork readiness test to even have the privilege...) and then point me to "some other helpful articles" when I asked a very specific question about my particular account activity is, to me, just as infuriating as getting a form response from a congressperson when you reach out for genuine help on an issue.  It accomplishes nothing more than to waste my time instead of the CSR's or the congressperson's time, and the last time I checked, they were the ones in the service roles of this relationship, not me. 

 

In my opinion - having worked for nearly a decade as a CSR myself before finishing my education and switching careers - my situation should have been handled (in a very short and paraphrased way) like this:

Me: Hey CS, why did my score drop? I've read all of the FAQs and articles but I still don't understand what it is about my specific account that caused such a drastic change.  I thought I'd been doing great work.

CS.  Your JSS is calculated over a long period of time - even though, looking at your account, you haven't been on UpWork for a year yet, so time may not be as big a factor as we think.  Also, you don't have any long term clients, so that may not be helping much.  One thing I do notice, however, is that you have two contracts open which haven't had any payment or activity in over two months.  I can't say for sure, due to UpWork's policy regarding revealing JSS calculations, but I'd be willing to be that's the culprit.  If you can finish those jobs as soon as possible, and get great feedback on them, you should see your JSS improve in no time.

Okay - so what was different about what I just typed than what I got from CS - aside from the brevity and over-simplification?   The responses I received from CS, rather than addressing anything about my specific account activity, pretty much just gave me a rundown of possible problems (essentially enumerating the bullet points of the FAQs and help topic articles), and left me to do the research  guesswork myself (at first, that is.  They finally *sort of* did some research and analysis on their own by the end).  When I was a CSR, it was typically my experience that if I just took a few extra moments to listen to the caller and or carefully read the e-mail, I could usually identify the source of the problem pretty quickly and offer a personalized solution without all of the red tape, stock copy-and-paste responses, and other time-wasting nonsense. 

What happened in this case, on each occasion that I contacted CS, was that I got an automated response first with links to help articles.  Then, I had to reply to those automated e-mails, explain to the CSR that I'd already read the specifics and that I wanted to know what was specifically going on with my account (something I'd already done in the original request for help). 

 

Now, had the CSR responded as I did in the example I provided above, it doesn't seem to me that she/he would have violated any UW policies on disclosing calculation methodology - the CSR would have simply pointed me in one very specific direction to solve my problem rather than pointing me down seventeen general directions to try.  That's what CS could have done better.  

Further discussion on your comment:
If I understand your argument correctly - and please forgive me if I'm over-simplifying - you're saying  They already told you some things that will drop your score, and if you'd look at your account you'd see that some of those things are there.  What more could they have done? 

 

Before I give the TL/DR response (provided at the end), I have to point out a couple of things that pertain to my particular case (since we're using my stats as examples here).  The first is, you asked, "What is your "clients who would recommend" score?"  For clarification purposes, I replied to an earlier post that it is at 100%.  The second, and this may point out a flaw in your premise, is that UpWork's own definition of the time table for JSS and how it affects the score eliminates a lot of those potential reasons in my case.  Per the UpWork Help Center: 

 

"When is My Job Success Score Calculated?

The Upwork system takes snapshots of your six-, 12- and 24-month history in the marketplace and calculates a score for each. The best score out of these moving time windows is displayed on your profile and updated about every two weeks."

 

Here's where I think your premise may have been a little off.  You said "You also indicated that you issued a refund. So that's a no-payment contract which definitely brings your score down."  The refund situation happened about three months prior to me starting to work again in November.  I knew that it was going to bring my score down when it happened, and during the couple of months I took off, I didn't check it.  When I finally did check it again, a couple of months later, it was at 89% ( I think) and I was actually surprised that it was not lower (I felt terrible about having to give the refund and not being able to finish the work), but there it was - 89% - and I resolved to get it back up above 90% asap. 

 

In the meantime, I had landed a couple of great contracts for which I was doing work I was really proud of, and the next time I checked my score, I was back above 90% (I don't remember for sure, but I want to say it was at a 94%) - this was all while I was in the midst of completing milestones for higher pay rates than ever and reading delighted comments from clients.  Then, the first drop (back to 89%,) happened in January (seven months after I'd started doing work on UW)  then the next one two weeks later to 77%.  So from my perspective - being on the customer end while I was trying to figure this all out - the refund didn't factor in much, or even at all, because between the time the refund was given and the time I started checking my JSS again, several of the 2-week calculation windows had passed, and I was sitting pretty near the 90% when I started checking again.  The only conclusion I was left with was that something had happened in the last six weeks or so that was radically dropping my JSS, and I had no power to figure out what exactly it was.

Getting back to my point here, the types of responses I get from CS - and, sorry Avery O, even though I know you're a mod and not a CSR (BTW, I hope you at least get something from UW for the hard work you do), I'm going to quote you as an example because your response was so similar - such as,  "Please know that your Job Success score is updated every two weeks, and it’s important to note any movement in this score (either up or down) reflects both recent activity and activity over a longer period of time. Because we look at trends over a 24-month period, you can see your score change, even without recently closed contracts, due to past jobs slipping out of the 24-month window, or there are not enough jobs in your 6-, 12-, 24-month window to calculate your Job Success Score from."  

Now, prior to this, Avery (and her CS counterparts) also wrote things like "I know you get yourself back on track, as the feedback in your Work History is stellar." (Thanks, Avery!)

 

So here's the crux: Avery (and her CS counterparts) have obviously looked at my provile - at least glanced at it.  How hard would it be to say (quoting from my role-play example earlier) "One thing I do notice, is that you have two contracts open which haven't had any payment or activity in over two months.  I can't say for sure, due to UpWork's policy regarding revealing JSS calculations, but I'd be willing to be that's the culprit.  If you can finish those jobs as soon as possible, and get great feedback on them, you should see your JSS improve in no time."  

Do you see the difference?  In the real scenario - the people who are getting paid to provide me with answers are bombarding me with information and assuming that I have the time, patience, and competency to sift through all of that information, process it,  and find my real answer.   In the scenario I provided above, the CSR took a few extra moments and was competent and professional enough to give me just enough information to solve my problem without violating any company policy.  

 

Before I continue, I do need to say that on nearly every other matter over which I've felt the need to contact CS, they do a STELLAR job of being responsive and answering all of my concerns, but for me, in this instance, they failed.  Instead, it took the kind help of a community of people (thank you all) who aren't getting paid to help me understand the root of my problem, and the people who are being paid to help me were unable to do so satisfactorily - probbably because of restrictive UW policies.

TL/DR: CS's policies made it more difficult on me - the customer - the one who's being served - by placing the burden of investigating my problem (i.e. sifting through myriad articles and variables myself) onto my shoulders, when, by rights, the burden of investigating and solving my problem should be with them.

 

Thanks again, Tonya, for your response.  I appreciate the oportunity to discuss these things!

 

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Phyllis G Member Since: Sep 8, 2016
23 of 34

"TL/DR: CS's policies made it more difficult on me - the customer - the one who's being served - by placing the burden of investigating my problem (i.e. sifting through myriad articles and variables myself) onto my shoulders, when, by rights, the burden of investigating and solving my problem should be with them."

 

Not in this lifetime (or any other) will I have the patience to read a post of that length and density. However, one of your final paragraphs caught my attention and I may have helpful feedback about that specific remark. In short, get it out of your head that you are the customer on this platform. We have access to "customer service" insofar as UW needs for us to function in order to make money. But the money comes from the clients and they are the customers. If there's a doubt in anyone's mind about that, allow me to share a recent experience that made things crystal clear.

 

A few weeks ago, I added a client account and made my first UW hire. Verified my payment method when asked, the FL was great, everything smooth as silk until UW tried to bill me for the first week's hours. The amount was nowhere near my typical monthly expenditures but my over-zealous credit card company thought it smelled like fraud and stopped it. Fortunately, I was at my desk and available to participate in a ludicrous series of automated and live phone interactions with Amex to sort it out. In the course of that, I also contacted UW directly. They answered on the first ring; listened to my query and put me directly on the phone with the person who could help. She clearly and concisely explained what happened and what I needed to do, and it was all resolved in a moment. She was knowledgeable, efficient, and nice. I've never had a CS experience like that as a FL, nor do I expect to (even though I've earned far more for the platform as a FL than I'm ever likely to spend as a client).

 

Anyway, the bottom line is that from UW's perspective, we are necessary assets to be maintained with as little investment as possible. As FLs we are free to manage our own expectations, which helps avoid wasting annoyance and instead, put it where it belongs with the spammers who are constantly ringing my phone.

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Brandon H Member Since: Feb 17, 2019
24 of 34

Thanks again, Phyllis.  I know the post was long, and if you only read the TL/DR, then, unfortunately, some of the points I was making were lost.  In reality, I don't blame CS for my situation much at all, just the policy regarding not letting them help us out more by telling us specifically what happened to make our JSS go up or down.

One quote I do want to respond to, is

 

"In short, get it out of your head that you are the customer on this platform. We have access to "customer service" insofar as UW needs for us to function in order to make money. But the money comes from the clients and they are the customers." 

 

I'm sorry, but that's where you and I are going to have to disagree.  Yes, - as a freelancer, and even on the internet in general,  I am a commodity that UW and other sites use, as are the clients, - and if UW was a social media site where the social contract is "we get to have all of your data but you get to use our site for free," then I would agree with you.

 

But we also pay UpWork money in the form of fees which represent a significant portion of our earnings.  As far as I'm concerned - if I'm handing over money to you for services when I have the option to either keep it or go somewhere else (even if those options are worse or more inconvenient than what you're offering) I'm your customer.  Period.  

 

One other thing I wanted to mention is that I did finally decide to try UW as a client to see how things work from that side.  One thing I've found so far in my research is this - from the UpWork help topic found here:  "For example, if you [the client] make a payment of $1,000 [to the freelancer], Upwork will charge an additional $27.50 fee for processing the payment."  In that example, UpWork has made $27.50 from the client and has then charged the freelancer an additional $100 (10%) and any withdrawal fees that may be associated with actually getting that money - and we haven't even talked about the money UW makes on interest from escrow accounts.  So for that example contract - the client's portion of the total UW revenue of $127.50 for that transaction was 21.5% and the freelancer's portion of the money UW made was 78.5%.  Now, how that scales when you look at total revenue earned from clients vs. total revenue earned from freelancers, I have no idea, but at least here on the small scale, your assumption that UW makes most of their money from clients seems wrong to me.  I say that with all humility because I have only been on this platform for less than a year, but unless I'm missing something, the freelancers are just as much UW customers as the clients, and if that's not actually the case, then I may need to re-evaluate either this career path or my choice of agent.  As I understand it, I am the talent, UpWork is my agent/broker, whose job it is - and whom I pay - to connect me with clients who need my services.  That is what I pay them for, and that is what makes me their customer.

 

I know that my attitude toward CS (not necessarily here, but in general) is stern and unforgiving, but that's because I was trained in my early life to be a damned good CSR, and when I don't get the service I believe I'm paying for, then I tend to go nuclear.  It's a character flaw, I guess.  Still - if I'm paying you for something (including customer support as part of the bargain), then I'm your customer.

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Tiffany S Member Since: Jan 15, 2016
25 of 34

Brandon H wrote:

"In short, get it out of your head that you are the customer on this platform. We have access to "customer service" insofar as UW needs for us to function in order to make money. But the money comes from the clients and they are the customers." 

 

I'm sorry, but that's where you and I are going to have to disagree.  Yes, - as a freelancer, and even on the internet in general,  I am a commodity that UW and other sites use, as are the clients, - and if UW was a social media site where the social contract is "we get to have all of your data but you get to use our site for free," then I would agree with you.

 

But we also pay UpWork money in the form of fees which represent a significant portion of our earnings.  As far as I'm concerned - if I'm handing over money to you for services when I have the option to either keep it or go somewhere else (even if those options are worse or more inconvenient than what you're offering) I'm your customer.  Period.  

 

Brandon, the critical point you're missing here is that in most fields, Upwork has at least 10x as many freelancers as would be optimal. If half of the freelancers quit overnight, it would IMPROVE the platform (unless that 50% just happened to include all of the higher end freelancers). You pay money to Upwork, yes, but it doesn't matter at all to Upwork whether it's you or some other freelancer paying them that money. Unless you're offering something so unique or at such a high quality that your clients will have to leave the platform to hire if you're not here, Upwork will make the exact same amount of money without you, because there's a long line of freelancers to take on that work.

 

On the other hand, more clients/jobs mean more total revenues.

 

Re your calculations, clients aren't actually paying any of the fees. The 2.75% that they pay is just Upwork passing on the payment processing fee to the client.

 

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Brandon H Member Since: Feb 17, 2019
26 of 34

Good points about the number of FLs out there.  I hadn't considered that.  Still, I'm not ever going to believe that if I'm paying for something I have the option to either not pay for or to pay someone else for, I'm not a customer.  Way too easy to make idiotic decisions with that kind of thinking.  The bottom line is, I do pay UpWork, and for that, I expect some level of service.  I've also said over and over in various threads here that I believe overall UW actually has some of the best customer service out there.  The reality, though, is that I just paid them $40 out of a $200 contract.  That's a chunk.  And I'm not going to get in the habit of forgetting that I am owed something in return for it - otherwise it's a pretty expensive finder's fee.

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Moderator
Avery O Moderator Member Since: Nov 23, 2015
27 of 34

Hi Brandon, 

I understand where you are coming from, and appreciate the time that you put into to explain why this would have been resolved easily if we pointed you directly to the right information. Our teams are unable to specify which of your contracts, and/or, feedback affected your score (whether positively, or negatively) to prevent users from manipulating the current system, which we hope you understand. 

As for closing contracts, we generally advise users to close contracts every two weeks, while completing new contracts to help avoid creating a pattern of contracts without feedback. 


-Avery
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Brandon H Member Since: Feb 17, 2019
28 of 34

Thanks again, Avery.    Bottom line, I think UW could do much better than the current JSS system, and I hope that they're working on improving it. 

 

One major flaw I haven't even mentioned yet is the fact that it's entirely possible - in fact it happened to me - that someone with only three or four contracts completed successfully can have a 100% JSS, while someone with more experience - even more positive client outcomes - can have in the 80 or 90% range.  What good would that do me as a client? 

 

The JSS is presented as this incorruptible and easy way for the clients to see how successful a freelancer has been, right?   Well, if I'm a client sifting through a lot of proposals and I decide to look at the JSS to help me weed out potential hires, then I could come across this scenario very easily:  Jane S has a JSS of 100% and is listed as top rated (if I would investigate her profile, I would  see that she has only had four clients, but she lists herself as an expert level FL and she says she's ultra-experienced in her cover letter.  Then I look at Moe's proposal.  Moe only has a JSS of 87%, and he's charging just a little more than Jane.  He also says he's an expert, and his cover letter is filled with just as many well-placed tropes and cliches as Jane's.  I hire Jane, because of all of the lore about how amazing and un-manipulatable the JSS is, but I find that she is not nearly experienced enough.  I should have hired Moe, and if I would have interviewed them both, it would have been immediately apparent who the better choice was, but because I was using only the JSS metric (which I perceive - because of UW marketing - to be a more objective measure of someone's value as a potential employee than what they tell me in their proposal) I've made the wrong choice, and my outcome hasn't been as good as it could have been. 

Okay, I'm over my rant on this topic for now.  I've spent the last 72 hours or so with very minimal sleep - in front of this computer - sending out proposal after proposal - spending lots of time customizing each one - because I was told in every sales training I ever attended that "it's a numbers game" or "it's like fishing." 

 

I like the fishing metaphor, so let's stick with it.  UpWork is a lake that I have been told (and have seen) is stocked full of fish (clients), and I've decided to fish there.  I'm using the right bait, I know the fish are there, I keep casting, but it seems now that my lure is snagged on the weeds at the bottom of Lake UpWork (the JSS).    At some point, thought, if they ain't bitin', and if your hooks keep getting stuck, you gotta cut bait and try something else.    On the other hand, maybe I'll get lucky and I'll find an expert to help me with my marketing strategy from the job I posted on the client side. Thanks again to you and the whole UW community for your help with this.

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Brandon H Member Since: Feb 17, 2019
29 of 34

Just wanted to update, because a lot of things I say in this thread make it sound like I think UW's CS dept is abhorrent (I tried to clarify a couple of times that I think they're great on every other issue but the JSS one, but the message may have gotten lost)
Anyway, for the record:  The last several interactions I've had with CS since this got started - on separate issues - have been fantastic experiences.  The CSRs responded quickly, gave me detailed information, and really helped me out.  So Kudos to UW's CS dept!  You guys rock.  Really! 

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Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
30 of 34

Brandon H wrote:

 The last several interactions I've had with CS since this got started - on separate issues - have been fantastic experiences. 


Just curious.... this happened like a month ago... How much can possibly go wrong that you have to contact Support several  times in such a short time?

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