Why Customers Don’t Trust 5-Star Reviews

Just a month ago, a post on Reddit got onto the front page with the simple title “A 4.9 Star Rating is More Reliable than a 5.0 Star Rating”. If you’re not familiar with how Reddit works, a post needs to be voted up by thousands of people In order to make it to the front page. So it seems like this idea resonated with thousands of people. Let’s explore why 5-star reviews might not always be a good thing. 

What Can We Learn about 5-Star Reviews from Reddit?

So why did Reddit users prefer a lower rating? Let’s take a look at some of the comments. 

Customers Value Detail 

redditor wants more detail

Looking at these comments, a few things stand out. First off, it seems that commenters value in-depth reviews. 5-star reviews show that customers love your business, but they often don’t tell the full story. In order to get the full story, customers like reading reviews that were less than 5-stars. A 4-star review is likely to give some positives and negatives of using your business. This can help customers really understand if your business is a good fit for their needs. If you have good reviews and want to make them count, check out these 5 tips to double the impact of positive reviews.

Customers Understand That Not Everyone Is Going to Be Satisfied 

redditor wants to see bad reviews

Next, commenters also seemed to understand that no real business could possibly make everyone happy. Everyone seems to understand that no business could possibly satisfy everyone and that there’s always room for improvement. What they do want to see is if the positives outweigh the negatives. 

Customers Want Authenticity 

Reddit is suspicious of 5 star reviews

Finally, the whole reason these commenters trusted reviews is that they are an accurate depiction of what using the product or service would actually be like. If customers suspect that a business’s reviews are inaccurate, they’ll start to be suspicious. Seeing every single customer give a 5-star review shows that either the customers are just thanking businesses for doing the bare minimum or the business is paying for fake reviews

What Can Your Business Take Away From This? 

For obvious reasons, nobody wants to do business with someone that they suspect of being a cheater. The fact of the matter is, even the best businesses and products can’t please everybody. 

While it might have spawned a beloved book and movie franchise, a spinoff movie series, and a theme park, even the first Harry Potter book couldn’t make everyone happy. Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone has more than 200 1-star reviews on Amazon. Of course, these are outweighed by the thousands of positive reviews that the book has. 

But too many negative reviews can hurt your business as well.  Research shows that 47% of customers prefer to avoid business with less than a 4-star rating. 

Let’s talk about some best practices for business reviews. 

Why You Should Never Buy Reviews 

Remember, customers value authenticity. People are afraid of getting ripped off, so they’re on the lookout for cheap tricks like buying reviews to make your business look better than it actually is. If they suspect that your reviews are fake, they’ll avoid you. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you can get away with it. Since it’s hard to fake the genuine enthusiasm of a real customer, it’s easy to tell when a review is fake. 

Buying reviews can also lead to massive fines from the FTC. In 2019, a company called Urthbox was fined $250,000 for paying customers to write good reviews. So it’s pretty clear: buying reviews is a huge risk that will only cause customers to trust you less. So don’t do it. 

We’ll talk about how you can get authentic reviews from your customers without resorting to any backhanded tactics. But right now, let’s talk about how you can deal with bad reviews. 

Address All Customer Reviews

When you get a negative review, make sure to respond. Again, most people understand that there are two sides to every story. Apologize and try to get to the bottom of the customer’s problem. If you manage to help make up for the customer’s initial bad experience, they might even turn into a loyal customer. 

A sincere apology and a promise to make things better can motivate the reviewer to delete or edit their original review. But even if the customer chooses to leave the negative review up, a good response shows prospective customers looking at your reviews that you are willing to go above and beyond to make sure that every customer has a good experience. 

But there’s another way to deal with bad reviews: making sure that they’re outweighed with positive reviews. So here’s how you can get more reviews from your customers. 

3 Ways to Get More Reviews

You have tons of happy customers out there. The problem is getting them to actually leave a review. 

Even though customers value a review, many of them will not leave a review unless they feel like they had a strongly negative experience. After all, leaving a review takes some initiative on the part of the customer. They have to actually go and find your business on review profiles, then try to put words to their emotions as they write a review. Usually, only an angry customer would be willing to do this. 

Here are a few tips to help you get more reviews. 

Send Review Requests via Text and Email 

The average customer understands that businesses can benefit from reviews and are more than happy to leave a review. The problem is that they just don’t want to take the time to actually find your business on different platforms and leave a review. 

So the trick is making the process easy. If you want to get more reviews, start sending review requests through text and email. Remember to include a direct link to the review site that you want your customers to go to, so they can leave a review as quickly as possible. 

Don’t Gate Your Reviews 

Review gating” is banned by Google and most other review platforms. That’s the practice of selectively sending review requests to certain customers who you know will leave a positive review. 

Hopefully, by this point in the article, you know why a few negative reviews won’t hurt you. But remember, if you do end up getting some negative reviews: just leave a strong response. 

Keep Timing in Mind 

Imagine you go to a great Italian restaurant. You eat delicious food and get fantastic service. You go home satisfied. Then, three months later, you get a review request from the restaurant via text. 

At this point, you probably don’t remember the experience well enough to leave a review. Chances are that you probably won’t leave a review at all, though you might have been perfectly happy to leave a 5-star review when the experience was still fresh in your mind. 

How BirdEye Can Help You On Your Quest for Below 5 Stars 

At BirdEye, we value an authentic review ecosystem and seek to help both customers and businesses to see real reviews. With BirdEye, you can send review requests to your customers automatically. 

But that’s not all. BirdEye allows you to monitor and respond to reviews on 150+ sites and get insights from customer reviews. There’s a reason why we’ve been named the #1 software in online reputation by G2. 

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