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Online reviews between 2 and 4 stars: is it better feedback?

Alexander Zaugg, Founder

24 August 2017

In our previous blog posts, we have written a lot about how you should respond to negative feedback and how you can use positive feedback as a marketing tool.

However, there are also reviews in the middle of the pack – some people call them “neutral reviews”. In this article, we show you what you can learn from such customers’ feedback, and how to respond to it smartly.

 

What are reviews in the middle? And do “neutral reviews” really exist?

It’s a fact that many people write reviews when they are either extremely happy or extremely unhappy with their visit. It means that many online reviews are extreme – either 5 stars or only one.

However, there are some guests who write more differentiated reviews: they tend to be happy with their experience, but wish for more; or they are generally not content with their experience, but see some positive sides.

Since all online reviews are based on the subjective experience of guests, we don’t think that such a thing as a “neutral review” exists. In this case, there should be a list of objective criteria like, for example, for professional restaurant critics.

“Guests’ comments are usually more objective than a star rating”

Do such reviews include more objective facts?

Certainly, we are glad to receive a great review or on the contrary, we are sad to receive a negative one.

As mentioned above, the guests who didn’t find everything only good or bad, tend to give more details about their experience, justify and reason their decision to add or take away one or more stars. In these justification-comments, you can find the most objective sense, which can be expected from online reviews.

Hence, check your reviews with a 2- to 4-star rating carefully and see whether there are many reviews about the same topic. If it happens, you should pay more attention to that.

Analyzing reviews manually can take a lot of time, our software offers a filter function for exactly this reason.

There is a lot of information in the golden mean!

What is the difference between 2, 3 and 4 stars?

We have analyzed many reviews in the middle of the rating scale and found out some similarities. Such characteristics do not, of course, correspond to all the reviews with the same rating, but they show very well, what they are about and what you should pay attention to. Let us start with the lowest rating in the range.

Reviews with 2 stars:

 

Characteristics:

This guest was actually not so unhappy, which is obvious from the first sentence. However, there was a problem with billing which is the whole reason for a lower rating. It is quite common that people get disappointed when the prices do not match their expectations. Money is generally a sensitive topic.

Learnings / To dos:

This is a classic example of a communication issue between the guest and the waiting staff. The lack of transparency in pricing turned a positive experience into a frustrating one. As detailed as it is, this customer feedback should be passed on to the team to learn from it.
When responding to such a review, the owner should thank the guest for the positive part of the review and apologize for what obviously went wrong.

Furthermore, in this particular case: it is advisable to ask the guest to contact you by email in order to sort out the situation directly.

Tip: do not write a telephone number in your response. Your guest has chosen an online medium on purpose and does not want to change it.

Reviews with 3 stars:

 

Characteristics:

It is a classic review with 3 stars – very mixed with a lot of praise, but also some points which left the guest discontent.

Also, here the price topic is mentioned again. In the example above, the customer knew about the price in advance, but he/she wasn’t happy with the experience, as the value for money was bad. This, in comparison to the previous example, is a very subjective assessment and is not a failure of the team.

Learnings / To dos:

Objectively, the guest wasn’t happy with the restaurant seating – the tables were too close to each other. It is another concretely described problem, which can be solved and discussed with the team, especially if you have more than one feedback about this topic.

When responding to such a review, you should highlight the positive points mentioned by the guests and strengthen his/her opinion, but it is important not to miss an opportunity to apologize for the things that went wrong.

Reviews with 4 stars:

 

Characteristics:

Here the guest was actually very content with the experience and, the only point of complaint was that the waiter was not very communicative or attentive.

Learnings / To dos:

We recommend observing whether such a feedback happens often. If it does, it should be discussed with the team in order to ensure a better customer experience.

What is the best way to respond to reviews between 2 and 4 stars?

Actually, here the same rules work as for all the reviews:

  • Respond to reviews promptly (maximum 3 days after they are posted)
  • Respond individually (no standard “copy-paste” answers)
  • Stay friendly and professional. It is usually not about being right, but instead to thank the customers and learn from their reviews.

Since we have determined that such reviews contain a lot of important information, pay attention to the following points especially:

  • Respond to the online review without criticizing or correcting the reviewer.
  • Be sure to understand the complaint. If you do not understand it fully, ask for more information (for example, you can add your email address in your response so that a customer can give you more details)
  • If you don’t use a software, save the guests’ feedback somewhere in order to find out similarities and react to them.

Summary

Of course, everybody is happy to receive a 5-star review, it is clear and should be like that. Latest today start to look forward to the reviews in the middle of the rating scale. They are a source of valuable information, that you should take seriously, as it is highly objective. In any case, it is very important to respond to all the reviews.

By the way, when responding to reviews of 4- and 5-stars, we recommend using the tricks which will help improve your search engine ranking and promote your offers. More details on this topic can be found in our earlier article.

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About the Author

Alex takes care of our customers as their problem-solver and trouble-shooter. Of course writing compelling responses is a big part of his work as well and he strives for the best customer experience in every field he works. Therefore he tries always to discover new tactics how to improve our service and the one of our customers.

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