How To Respond to “Less-Than-Perfect” Three Star Reviews

how to respond to three star reviews

“It’s okay”. It’s not exactly the feedback you want at your dinner party, or when you ask your partner about your outfit. Middle-of-the-road reviews can sting in life and in business almost as much as a negative review. But there’s a lot to be said for the occasional three-star review for your business, and if you know how to respond, you can turn a mediocre rating into a marketing success story.

Five Stars Aren’t Always Perfect

When it comes to online reviews for your business, a perfect five out of five could actually put you at a disadvantage.

The following reasons help to explain why purchase likelihood peaks at an overall score of 4-4.7.

Too good to be true

Consumers are savvy to fake and curated reviews, as this one respondent to a survey by Canvas8 describes:

“If the company has only five-star reviews, I’m more likely to believe they’ve had people put up false reviews and delete bad reviews.”

Even if all of your reviews are genuine, a perfect five could smell suspicious to discerning consumers.

Consumers are realistic

Consumers realise that no product or service is 100% flawless. When weighing up their purchasing decision, it’s much more useful and informative to read honest feedback that details the issues with your product or service so that they can decide on balance whether it’s worth it for them.

Equally, consumers are skeptical about reviews at the polar end of the scale. One-star reviews often give a one-dimensional, narrow view of their overall experience. If their product was delivered late, or their customer service request was handled poorly, one-star reviewers focus entirely on that one element and don’t give a rounded account of their experience.

Logic vs emotion

At either end of the rating scale, reviews are often driven by emotions. People are either ecstatic or furious, whereas 2,3 or 4-star reviews are more balanced and constructive.

Consumers who read reviews before making their decision are trying to make an informed (read logical) decision, therefore a balanced three-star review is a lot more useful for them. How you respond to these reviews is crucial to tipping the balance in your favour.

How To Respond to Three-Star Reviews

Congratulations! You’ve got a three-star review. All eyes are on how you respond to this opportunity.

You have two main objectives when formulating your response:

  1. Demonstrate to review readers that you care about your customers and want to work to improve their experience.
  2. Regain the trust of the reviewer. 70% of unhappy customer will use your business again if your resolve their issue.

Responding to three star reviews is a customer service and PR exercise all rolled into one, and you need to keep both audiences in mind.

7 steps to responding to three-star reviews

  1. Respond promptly
    When it comes to response times, consumers have varying expectations depending on the platform. Google business reviews are less urgent than social media reviews, but don’t let either go more than 24 hours without a response.
  2. Get in the right frame of mind
    Professionalism is everything. Keep cool and calm even if you feel the review is unfair or unnecessarily critical. Remember, the eyes of your potential customer are on you. If you take the higher ground, you’ll have a greater chance of earning their respect.
  3. Personalise your response
    A generic response is worse than no response. It’s easy to spot a cut-and-paste reply, and it’s very disingenuous.
    Make your customer feel valued, and show that you’ve really listened by writing each response individually and personalising it.
  4. Thank them
    Begin your response by thanking them for taking the time to share their opinion, and highlight the positive aspects of their review.
    Their feedback is valuable information to help your business develop. It’s also provided you with an opportunity to reach out to them and try to regain their trust.
  5. Apologise
    Acknowledge the negative aspects of the review and validate how they are feeling with a sincere apology for the issue and the inconvenience you caused them. This will go a long way to regaining their trust and show prospective clients that you’re happy to.
  6. Explain (optional)
    If there’s a reasonable explanation for the negative aspects of their review. For example, “we’ve been receiving an unexpectedly high level of demand and are working to catch up” or “we’ve raised our prices due to higher operating costs and to ensure the ongoing quality of our service”.
    However, you need to tread carefully. If you try to cynically explain your customer’s concerns it may come across as shirking your responsibility.
  7. Offer a solution
    Where possible, offer a solution, be it a discount, full refund or replacement, and give instructions on how they can get in contact with you. Just make sure that you can follow through with any promises you make in your response.

Example response

Here’s an example showing all of the above elements in action:

Hello Ed,

Thank you for taking the time to write a review. We’re so happy to hear that you enjoyed our spa service.

We’re sorry to hear that there weren’t any suitable vegan options at the breakfast buffet. We’re more than happy to accommodate all dietary needs on request, but we appreciate that this isn’t the ideal solution for our growing number of plant-based guests. We’ll discuss the issue with our catering staff to improve buffet options in future.

Please send us a DM or email us and we’ll be happy to refund you the price of your breakfast, and if you have any suggestions for great vegan breakfasts, we’d love to hear them.

We look forward to hearing from you again.

What Next?

Now you know how to formulate the perfect response to a three star review, what else can you do?

If you handle a large volume of customer service requests, it can be hard to keep track of which issues have the greatest impact on customer sentiment.

Symanto uses state-of-the-are natural language processing technology to analyse written text in any form. Symanto can process thousands of reviews, customer service conversations and social media comments within a matter of minutes to bring you objective data on how your customers feel about your business.

With this actionable data, you can prioritise issues to bring the greatest satisfaction to your customers and keep their trust and loyalty.

Get Started With Symanto

Find out more about Symanto can help you process and prioritise customer service requests. Get in touch, or book your free personalised demonstration today.