When we think about the impact of reviews, we tend to think in two dimensions - the glowingly positive 5 stars, and the damagingly negative 1 star. But what about the 2, 3 and 4 star ratings that fall in between? What impact do they have on purchase decisions, and how can you use them to your advantage?
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Reviews and ratings have a big role to play in the success of an eCommerce business, and it’s no surprise that most merchants focus on the two ends of the spectrum. 

After all, those shiny 5 star reviews act as powerful endorsements, helping to attract new customers and build trust in your products and services. At the same time, your reputation can take a serious hit if 1 star reviews go unchecked, so it’s key to act on them quickly. 

Too often overlooked though is the value that lies in the mid-range. 

Typically, it’s the detail given in 2, 3 and 4 star reviews that shoppers find most beneficial. It’s also where you’ll find the greatest insights on how to improve as a business. 

How Mid-Range Reviews Improve the Customer Experience

From a customer perspective, reviews are about research - used to better assess the suitability of a product and the reputation of the company selling it. 

Whilst 5 star reviews highlight all the positives, they rarely answer the ‘what if’ questions customers often have. 1 star reviews are also unhelpful here, as they tend to focus solely on extreme negative experiences without offering context.

Rather than being solely positive or negative, 2, 3 and 4 star reviews sit in a more neutral space and give the customer more of what they look for:

Balanced feedback: Mid range reviews often contain a mix of positive and negative comments, giving a more nuanced view of the customer experience..

For example, a 3 star review might praise the quality of a product but mention a minor flaw in its design. The customer can then consider their purchase based on how significant they deem this flaw to be, versus the overall quality of the product. They are also more likely to offer specific, actionable feedback compared to the extremes of 1 or 5 stars.

Assurance of product fit: not all products are one size fits all. Customers have different needs and expectations, and it’s typically the mid-range reviews that address these specifics.

This is particularly true if you add review attributes to your requests - specific questions relating to the product and/or customer that result in more granular detail. For a clothing item, say, you might get a 4 star review that speaks highly of fabric quality and pattern design but mentions the fit runs a little small. Ask the reviewer to add attributes like their height, body type and preferred fit, and you give potential customers much greater insight as to how the product suits their own needs.

Proof of authenticity: today's consumers are skeptical and exclusively positive reviews may raise suspicions about how genuine they are.

When 2, 3 and 4 star ratings appear in the mix, it adds credibility to the overall review profile. Whether they’re researching a product or a company, these mid-range reviews give assurance that they’re reading honest feedback from real customers. 

Insight into customer service: mid-range reviews often include details on the overall customer experience, shedding light on how effectively a business handles things like general inquiries, complaints or returns. 

For example, a 3 star review might be based on a significant shipping delay but highlight how responsive customer service was and how much effort went into resolving the issue. This helps shoppers understand the level of support they can expect should they encounter a problem themselves. 

The ‘worst case’ scenario: while 1 star reviews highlight shortcomings, they tend to be overly pessimistic or critical. A 2 star review on the other hand will give a fairer description of the issues encountered, usually with specifics rather than generic negativity. 

This gives the reader a more realistic representation of possible ‘worst case’ scenarios, so they can better assess the potential risks associated with their purchase. 

How to Use Mid-Range Reviews to Improve Your Business

The fact that 2, 3 and 4 star reviews are so beneficial to the customer is in itself of great value to your business. It means more happy shoppers making better purchase decisions, and as a result developing loyalty to your brand. Beyond this, mid-range reviews are also a goldmine of actionable insights, here’s how to leverage that for business growth:

Look out for trends and recurring pain points: aggregating and analyzing these mid-range reviews can help identify common trends or issues, informing strategic decisions.

Most serious complaints are a one-off but it’s those problems that multiple customers experience that you need to iron out if you want to be the best in your niche. For example, switching a third-party logistics provider if there’s consistent mention of shipping issues, or retraining support teams if their product knowledge is seen to be lacking. Equally there may be a trend in positive sentiment towards a Customer Support Executive who seems to go above and beyond to provide customers with a positive experience.

These are incredibly valuable insights that you can uncover in seconds using AI Assistant - an innovative tool that allows you to mine review data at speed to understand exactly what those recurring pain points or trends are.

Opportunity for Improvement: by highlighting areas for potential improvement, these reviews can guide businesses on where to focus their efforts to enhance products or services. Victoria Health’s strategy includes not only using reviews for general feedback, but as a source of insights to improve the  product development process and product line management.

Retain customers: if a dissatisfied customer doesn’t share their experience, there’s nothing you can do to fix it. That means you might lose out on their custom for good. 

But if they vent their frustrations in a review, you have an opportunity to transform a negative encounter into a positive one by going above and beyond to resolve the issues raised. Responding to and acting on midrange reviews demonstrates a commitment to customer satisfaction, fostering trust and loyalty.

94% of customers are more likely to buy from a brand again after a good customer service experience - so if you’re proactive and effective in your response you can actually use mid-range reviews to improve customer retention.

Build brand credibility: when you publicly thank a customer for a mid-range review and explain the steps taken to resolve their issues, you showcase transparency and a willingness to engage. These thoughtful responses can improve a brand or company’s  image by showing attentiveness and a readiness to adapt based on customer feedback.

How to Improve on 2, 3 and 4 Star Reviews

Whilst we’ve established that 2, 3 and 4 star reviews are actually beneficial, too many at the lower end of the scale can damage your overall trust score. With that in mind, it’s important to improve on any particularly low ratings, or at the least lessen their impact. 

Dealing with Customers: ensure that your customer service teams are quick to act on any feedback that may require attention. Make sure that they view mid-range reviews responses as opportunities for engagement and feedback. Empower team members to resolve issues effectively, though excellent product knowledge and by developing response strategies for common issues raised. And finally use these insights to inform product and service improvements, and inform customers about changes made based on their feedback.

Raising Issues: you can use our integrations with the likes of Gorgias and Zendesk here, automatically raising tickets and allowing agents to deal with reviews from within the helpdesk platform. 

Moderation: if you feel that a review crosses a line or contains false information, you can flag it for moderation. Our expert team will assess its content in line with Google best practice guidelines, and remove it from view if it violates our policy. 

There’s No Such Thing as a ‘Bad’ Review

We know it's tempting to bask in the glory of 5 star ratings - and we certainly recommend 

highlighting your successes. But don’t shy away from those 2, 3 and 4 star ratings because they have value all of their own.

By leveraging mid-range reviews effectively, you can turn constructive feedback into opportunities for growth, ultimately strengthening your brand reputation and driving customer loyalty.

If you’re looking for a solution to help you manage your reviews more effectively, take REVIEWS.io for a test drive with our free 14 day trial.

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