When a 5-Star Rated Business Isn’t

Many Business owners relentlessly pursue 5-star ratings from their customers to earn the highest possible ratings on sites like Yelp, Google, YellowPages and hundreds of other review sites.  They do this because they know how influential these ratings are.  So many studies have shown time and time again that online reviews play an increasing role in the online reputation of businesses.  And the bottom line?  The better the reputation, the more business you get!

So we wondered, how good is a 5 star rated business?  And the results might actually surprise you.

We surveyed 1,236 U.S. internet users about ratings for fictitious steakhouses.  Each user was randomly presented with two ratings, side by side, and asked “Which rating do you trust most?”   A total of four different ratings were tested against each other.  Two of the four had a many more reviewers.

Based on the results of the survey, the Perfect 5.0 rated steakhouse was less trusted than a 4.5 rated steakhouse.  On the other hand the Perfect 5.0 rated steakhouse did beat out the 4.7 rated steakhouse.  So what was the difference?  The trust level seemed to correlate more closely with the number of reviews.

But just to be sure, we ran another survey.  This time, we pitted the 5.0 rated steakhouse against the 4.5 rated steakhouse. The results were even more pronounced.    In this case, the lower rated steakhouse was actually MORE trusted by a ratio of 2 to 1!   It seemed consistent with the first survey that the number of reviews associated with a rating plays a significant role in the trust level of a consumer.

But we weren’t satisfied.  We wanted to delve deeper into the mystery of the 5.0 rated steakhouse.  Do the number of reviews really matter that much when it comes to highly rated restaurant of business?  So we put it to an even bigger test.  As if the 2nd survey was the semi-finals of this bake off (no pun intended), this next survey would be the finals. And we took no chances.  This time, while we compared the two semi-finalists with the different ratings, but we intentionally kept the number of reviewers the same (at 53 reviewers). We also increased the number of responses in this third survey.  We surveyed 1,850 U.S. internet users from across the country in all different age groups and income levels.  And once again, the 5.0 rated steakhouse lost to the 4.5 rated steakhouse.

Despite having the same number of reviews, the 4.5 rated steakhouse was selected as more trusted then the 5.0 rated steakhouse by 55% of the respondents.  It would seem that the general population has some healthy skepticism about a restaurant with a perfect 5.0 rating.  While it is certainly possible to attain that status, most people know that in life, nobody is perfect.

We also compared responses in the third survey of men vs. women.  Oddly, the men seemed more skeptical then women, whereas the women were slightly more willing trust the 5.0 rated steakhouse then men.  We didn’t have a good explanation for this, but we’ll explore that in a future blog article.

To learn more about how ratings and reviews impact your business reputation and your sales, call the experts at ReviewInc at 877-9REVIEW or send us an email at info@reviewinc.com.