He Said She Said

Let me take you back to 1999, you were still renting movies at Blockbuster, waiting for your dial up to connect and stressing about Y2K. This is also the year that online review websites started to pop up, like rateitall.com, deja.com and Eopinions.com. Back then, these sites were just a lot of companies poking at each other, trying to make their competitors look bad. Consumers didn’t pay a lot of attention to these sites. They lacked authenticity, and online reviews hadn’t really made their way into the buying process just yet.

Since then, reviews have gained immense traction and credibility with websites such as Amazon.ca, TripAdvisor.com, Google Reviews and more. These online giants are used by millions of consumers every day as they make their purchasing decisions. 

84% of consumers noted that reviews played an important role in their final buying decision.

Positive reviews reassure potential customers that they can trust your brand, your products, or your services. A lack of reviews makes buyers feel increased risk, which makes them less likely to buy.

On the other end of the spectrum, too many 5-star reviews cause eyebrows to raise as well. Surely there must be at least one terrible review, right? No company is that perfect.

So, what’s the magic number? What are consumers looking for these days on the review page to make or break their buying decision?

I’m going to try and break it down for you, as well as give you some tips on how to handle the not so pretty reviews you may run into.

Shooting for the Stars 

Positive Reviews

The truth is people believe friends, family and other customers more than they believe your business and its marketing tactics. That’s why positive reviews hold such importance these days. That’s all fine and dandy, but you must be wondering, how do I go about getting more of these exceptional reviews and how difficult are they to attain?

The most obvious answer here is to provide outstanding services that warrant a 5-star review. Customers today expect to be treated better than ever! They have limited time to shop with you, want to feel extra special, get the best possible deal, and know that they have your support down the road after purchasing your product. 

People typically leave positive reviews for two main reasons, to share their experience in hopes of helping others make a better buying decision or as a thank you to the business for providing a positive experience for them.

It’s never a guarantee that your customers will leave a positive review, but how you go about asking for the review may swing the odds in your favour.


  • Ask kindly during or immediately after the sale.
  • If you would like them to leave a review on a specific website, let them know and provide clear instructions on how to do it.
  • Provide an incentive if you’re really struggling to build your online score.


  • Don’t beg, or they’ll likely be turned off and ignore your request or leave a mediocre review.
  • Don’t send out a review request too late, or they may have forgotten about their experience.

Negative Reviews

Now for the not so pretty reviews, that are surprisingly very important for your business.

Around 94% of consumers say they have avoided a business because of negative reviews online. Unhappy customers typically tell 9 to 15 other people about their negative experience by word of mouth alone. Today that number could be millions depending on your company’s size and how many platforms this dissatisfied customer decides to rip you apart on. 

There’s no better way to burst your bubble then to see a negative review notification pop up as you’re enjoying your mid-afternoon coffee break, but the truth is, it’s not the end of the world. It’s all about how your company responds to these reviews. 

We’ve all been there; our first thought is to just remove it. Get rid of the evidence and pretend that it never happened! Unfortunately, this is not a good idea. There is likely a reason this customer took the time to leave a negative review and when you decide to remove that negative feedback, you’re basically telling the consumer that you don’t value their opinion. This might have unintended consequences and can make them even more angry and frustrated. 

Instead of looking at the negative review as an inconvenience, try looking at it as an opportunity to put your outstanding customer service skills to the test. Here are a few ideas on what an appropriate response looks like.

  1. Try to be punctual. The sooner you can jump on the negative review and start to make it right the better.
  2. Personalize your response. Yes, that means ditch the robots in this case. People are more likely to be willing to come to an understanding with a real person if they feel heard and understood. Plus, these types of responses humanize your brand. Extra points for you!
  3. Once you’ve worked though the issue with the customer, share the positive outcome for others to see.


1 Star Review from Nancy Gilbert -

     I bought a candle from this store last week. When I opened the box, I noticed the candle inside was broken and smelled terrible. What a disappointment. Don’t waste your money here.

Response from company –

     Hi Nancy. We’re so sorry that you were dissatisfied with the purchase of your candle. We assure you that this is not the experience we intended for you and want to make it right! We would love to have you into the store to choose another candle and help you find a scent that you love. Here is our email if you want to set up a time to visit us. candles@candlestore.ca

<Nancy returned to the store for her new candle. Once she left happy the company responds again.>

Thank you so much for coming in today, Nancy. We hope you love your new candle! If you ever have any other issues, we’re always here to talk.  

It’s impossible to please everyone, and even the biggest and greatest brands with the best customer service teams will, at some point or another, receive negative feedback. Responding to that feedback, and showing your commitment to your customers, is what is going to make the difference. 

Another angle to look at this is that 30% of consumers assume online reviews are fake if there are no negative reviews at all. Why? Because businesses with 100% positive reviews look dodgy. When something is too good to be true, they usually are.

In summary, negative reviews are a necessary ingredient of authenticity, which can ultimately lead to more sales.

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In conclusion, it’s time to re-consider your goal when it comes to your own star rating.

5-stars isn’t only difficult to attain, it can come across as unauthentic to new customer’s researching your business online. On the other hand, something to keep in mind is that anything below 4 is going to start impacting your search results on Google. When customers type in “the best restaurant” or “the best candle store” Google will only show these consumers businesses with 4 stars or higher.

68% of consumers trust reviews more when they see both positive and negative feedback. A study done by the Spiegel Research Center determined that a 4.2 - 4.5-star rating is the most trusted. This is a great goal for you to aim for, and realistic as well!