When Near-Perfect Beats Perfect

Believe it or not, having a near-perfect rating score may actually be better for your business than perfection.

When a 4.50 Average Star Rating Beats a 5.00

At Top Rated Local®, we’re not your typical review site. Rather than just scoring a business based on the reviews on our own website, we aggregate a business’ reviews on a wide range of verified review sites to come up with their overall Rating Score™, giving small businesses a chance to more effectively monitor their online reputation from one place and giving consumers the chance to truly understand what kind of business they are working with. And because of the nature of the job, we see a wide range of Rating Scores.

Although we can and do recognize those top-tier businesses that have achieved impeccable five-star averages (see our Top Rated Local awards program!), there’s no denying the power of a near-perfect Rating Score when it comes to attracting new customers to your business and establishing trust online.

The Benefits of Having a Near-Perfect Star Rating

#1. Consumers don’t trust perfection.

It wasn’t so long ago that it was a common practice for businesses to pay companies to write fake reviews for them, and it’s a large part of why so many people are less trusting of five-star reviews, especially if every review is a five-star review. Luckily, people are also less trusting of one-star reviews, because many know that competitors and irrationally angry ex-employees or ex-customers will sometimes try to destroy a business’ reputation online in the form of a one-star review.

A study conducted by SmallBusinessPrices.co.uk looked at how trustworthy consumers view businesses based on their average star ratings. You may or may not be surprised to learn that people are more trusting of a business that has a three- or four-star average rating than a five-star rating. The study found that only about 10 percent of people trust five-star ratings; while, 35 percent trust four-star ratings and 22 percent trust three-star ratings.

Not only might a consumer believe that a perfect five-star rating might be inauthentic, but if you don’t have any reviews that are lower than five-stars, they might think that you’ve somehow deleted or hidden any reviews.

#2. It’s the content that matters.

While a business’ average star rating is certainly important, the content of a business’ reviews is what truly matters to consumers who are researching new businesses online. Five-star reviews will only get you so far if there’s no content to back them up. Reviews appear much more authentic to consumers when there’s an explanation for why the business was ranked a certain way.

And it’s not just the content of the review that matters; it’s also the content of your response. No matter how many stars a review is, you should always make it a point to respond. Responding to positive reviews is essential because it shows your customers how much you appreciate the fact that they took a few minutes out of their day to give your business a shoutout online. And responding to negative reviews gives you a chance to apologize and fix any mistakes, share your side of the story with the world and show off your customer service skills.

#3. A lot of consumers seek out negative reviews.

Surprisingly enough, when a consumer is researching a business online, they will actually specifically seek out negative reviews, which means that, even if you may have a one-star or two-star review, it might not be the worst thing for your online reputation.

Consumers want to see the negative star reviews because they want to know what the worst-case scenario is if they work with you. There’s a big difference in there being an hour-long wait at a restaurant at 7 PM on a Saturday night and a restaurant giving its patrons food poisoning.

People don’t just look at the star rating; they’ll actually read the review and make their own judgment. And luckily for small businesses, people will by and large take one-star reviews with a grain of salt.

#4. Five-star reviews don’t give you any room to grow.

Reviews are the modern-day word of mouth, and they’re one of your most powerful tools for building trust with potential customers online. When there’s a list of 20 plumbers to choose from, consumers utilize reviews to help them choose which one to turn to. And if your average rating is four stars, the fact of the matter is that consumers are even more likely to trust you.

In addition to attracting new customers online, reviews have one other big advantage for your business — they’ll help you grow and learn how to get better and do better for your customers. That’s why it’s essential to read and internalize reviews, even if they seem overblown or irrational. There’s usually a lesson to learn, and at the end of the day, when you learn that lesson, it will only help your business grow and flourish.

#5. People are more likely to leave four-star reviews themselves.

One other big reason why people are more likely to trust a business that has a four-star average rating than a five-star average rating is that people themselves are more likely to leave four-star reviews than five-star reviews, even when they have nothing to complain about.

Part of the reason for this is that people see star ratings differently. For example, some people will only give a business five stars if they went above and beyond to serve them, while others will give any business that they have nothing to complain about five stars. Furthermore, some people are more subjective in their reviews — writing about their experience with the company as a whole — while others are more personal in their reviews — for example, writing about their experience with a specific staff member.

People don’t often take reviews at face value for this reason, and that’s a good thing for small businesses.


Start Managing Your Business’ Online Reputation With Top Rated Local

Whether your average rating across review sites is five-stars, four-stars or one-star, managing your business’ online reputation is a non-negotiable part of its success. With Top Rated Local, you’ll be able to learn about your business’ overall online reputation across a range of different review sites in just one place! And when customers leave reviews on our site, it allows them to rate you based on various parts of the customer experience in addition to simply leaving a comment. But the best part of all is that signing up with Top Rated Local is absolutely free. Don’t wait. Take control over your business’ online reputation and get listed today!