Every business wants to get a perfect overall rating, but maybe it’s more sensible to reach the coveted 4.5-star rating instead. The idea sounds counterintuitive to the prevailing notion of achieving business perfection, but this imperfect score is actually more appealing to most customers.
So why is 4 out of 5 stars good? The short answer: it’s more realistic. For the long and detailed answer we’ll need to consult the consumer.
A 4.5-Star Rating is Just Right
Customer reviews resemble the essential social proof required for customers to see if a business is worth their time and money. A business can have a 5-star rating, but a prospective customer will think it’s too good to be true. To confirm the authenticity of the score, they will look at the number of reviews for the listing. According to a Salsify report, consumers expect an average of 112 reviews. It’s expected then that listings with high ratings but a low number of reviews are disregarded.
However, negative reviews are inevitable and they are a natural part of any business’s online listing. They can easily impact your overall score (and your local SEO efforts), but that doesn’t mean the end of the world for your online reputation. In fact, the scores most sought after by consumers are between 4 and 4.5 stars. Combined with a decent sample size of customer reviews, businesses in that rating range can attract customers easier than any place with a 5-star rating.
More customers also means more revenue. A study by Womply on the effect of reviews on small businesses showed that businesses with a rating between 3.5 and 4.5 stars earn more revenue than any other rating. In addition, stores with a 4.0 – 4.5 rating earn an additional 28 percent in annual revenue.
How to Get the 4.5-Star Rating
Reaching and maintaining a 4.5-star rating is no easy task, and you can’t really solely on customer reviews. As a business, you will need to perform some legwork to show new customers that your products and services are worth every single penny. Here’s how to do it.
Embrace Negative Feedback
Not only do critical comments on review sites and social media offer valuable insights on how your business can improve; they also bolster your online brand reputation with a measure of authenticity and transparency.
Speaking of online reputation, you can effectively respond to negative reviews as a way to not only show your willingness to engage with customers but also to attract new prospects. After all, 45 percent of consumers say they are more likely to visit a business if it responds to negative reviews.
Don’t Fake It Until You Make It
Businesses and consumers alike are wrestling with the problem of fake online reviews. In an attempt to manufacture a five-star reputation, some companies are gaming the system by posting fake positive reviews of themselves or bashing the competition on online feedback channels and social media.
Don’t employ these dirty tactics. Consumers are scrutinizing online reviews more closely than ever, and inauthentic, fraudulent content on your digital properties will no doubt leave you at risk of severe reputation damage.
Analyze Your Review Content
Smart businesses look beyond star ratings and pay close attention to the text content of their reviews. Already, many are investing in tools like word clouds, sentiment analysis, and review management software in order to generate data-driven insights on the customer experience, as well as leverage customer feedback to drive sales and performance.
After all, people will have varying definitions of what counts as a 5-star or 1-star business. By analyzing in greater detail the information that comes directly from your customers, your organization can make smarter marketing decisions, not least in the area of online reputation management.
Encourage Customer Feedback and Generate New Reviews
The most important factor in getting a higher overall review is to constantly acquire more reviews.
There is no guarantee that customers will give five stars, of course, but your business’s ability to generate new reviews, regardless of rating or sentiment, can have a major impact on sales. More recent reviews tell others that customers recently visited your business and their experience is indicative of the current situation at your location.
There are plenty of ways to ask customers for a review, and it’s just a matter of finding the right method that works for your business.
The Road to a 4.5-Star Rating
Does your organization really want five-star reviews across the board? Some will say the right answer lies somewhere between yes and no, but it’s probably the wrong question to ask anyway. Five-star reviews and ratings are not the be-all and end-all of your reputation. At a time when consumers value authenticity more than perfection, your business should do the same.