This week we introduced a new ranking algorithm that we have been working on for months now; together with a few things to help our community improve their CERT.
I have mentioned CERT in a few previous posts already, but I want to reiterate first why we did this:
Why did we introduce CERT?
First let me start by saying that any ranking algorithm, in our view, is aimed at rewarding the highest quality and most relevant talent up the ranks, so they get more exposure to Buyers.
Easy and frictionless discovery of quality talent is what keeps bringing Buyers back to PPH and what sets us apart.
Before CERT the way this worked was purely based on how much work is billed through the site, and the Buyer rating that work has received.
However, as our marketplace grew we realized more and more that this definition of quality is limiting. It’s not incorrect per se, rather it is limiting as it doesn’t factor other things that matter a lot to Buyers. I.e. Sellers being professional and reliable, responding fast to messages, (sometimes the busier they get the less this happens);delivering on time and avoiding things like disputes, cancellation/abandoning of work and refunds.
It turns out that how one gets to the end result is as important as getting there – at least to our Buyers. This is also a reflection of how the offline world works : the perception of the quality of the experience one receives when buying something is a combination of the quality of the product purchased, but also the ‘pre’ and ‘after-sale’ service you get.
This is what CERT aims to solve for.
So what is CERT?
CERT is an acronym that brings together the 4 pillars that define quality for a Buyer on PPH.
In practice what this does is it takes the classic ranking score we had to date and overlays it with a quality score that’s derived from the C, E & T in CERT as below.
- Community: Community is at the heart of PPH. What the C in CERT measures is how one is engaged as a member of the community, looking after not just their own interests but those of the whole community. For example, how much one refers others to the site to help grow the community, how one is engaged in social commenting to help grade and curate great content, and how one creates great original content that is liked and shared by others on the site – be it their Portfolio, Hourlies imagery, copy, and profile completeness.
- Engagement: The ‘E’ in CERT measures things such as speed of response, timeliness of delivery, and how our users abide by the Rules of Engagement of the site. Which in short means being professional and staying out of trouble, avoiding disputes, refunds, and anything that creates a negative experience for the Buyer as a general rule. The Buyer is, after all, your customer and whilst the customer isn’t always right, that should be the starting ethos in any professional relationship so as to keep customers happy.
- Repeat usage: Retaining a customer is the ultimate metric of success for any individual or business providing a service. Sellers who retain Buyers (for the same or a new job alike), will not only have higher earnings (which itself boosts CERT), but will get a magnified boost to their CERT score on top. So one dollar, pound, or euro retained is worth more than a new one, and that is because it reflects on great service delivery.
- Trust: Authenticity validation via linking your Facebook or LinkedIn account is a good first step, followed by getting endorsements from past employers, and good reviews on PPH from work won on the site. To jump up faster you can import clients from outside of PPH and start working with them with Zero Commission fee.
How will this affect my ranking in practice?
Well for starters CERT is now a dynamic algorithm, which changes much faster and which promotes quality in a more holistic sense and not just Buyer reviews.
To stay at the top one needs to continue billing through the site. Unlike before the Earnings in CERT now has a decay factor, which avoids people who did really well a long time ago but are now dormant, to keep staying at the top.
Conversely, CERT helps fresh new rising talent to accelerate faster and have a shot to get to the top if they play by the rules. To reward effort we overlay the quality score with a ‘no claims’ bonus, which turbocharges those who have not committed any violations for a period of time and have retained their customers. This gives them a shot at rising to the top faster.
For those who’ve already been successful at winning work it means they can’t rest on their laurels and need to continue doing well to stay on top. Additionally, for those who are new and haven’t yet had a chance it means it is easier for them to move up quickly by sticking to the principles of CERT.
CERT is a continuous score that works in the background. However, to make it easier for people to understand we have broken it down into levels. Sellers get a badge on their profile to reveal this level.
- CERT 1: You can get here without earnings, based on showing you are a promising prospect
- CERT 2 & 3: You must have earnings through the site
- CERT 4-5: You must have continued earning plus a high quality score
- TOP 10: Limited to the top 10 CERT scored for the last 30 days rolling
We have created a few posts on the Blog to help the community put CERT into practical do’s and dont’s here.
However, more importantly we have introduced what we have called a CERT-o-meter which is customised for each user based on what level they are at. This is what you will see in your dashboard when you log in as seen below:
If you click on ‘Boost My CERT’ it will offer you personalized tips on how to improve it.
We understand that some may be unhappy with this change as it will affect their score. If you would like further insight on the factors that affect your CERT Score, please read our post on Understanding CERT.
As with any change of this scale we cannot please everyone, and we take decisions based on what will improve the marketplace overall. We are confident that CERT will do just that. It will help onboarding and growth of Sellers. It will reward quality more fairly and more holistically. It will therefore bring more Buyers, thus more work to the site and retain them longer. This makes the marketplace and the community grows with it.
As always I am open to your comments, thoughts and remarks.