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Five-Star Reviews
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Categories: Experiences and daily life; Human nature

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People proudly post testimonials in their marketing materials. Testimonials scream DESPERATE since their work should speak for itself. I get emails weekly from companies that provide any number of "certified" five-star reviews for a fee so I question any review's veracity.

We are confused about what five stars mean. We're conditioned - pressured even - to leave them regardless. It gives no credence to those cases that are really exceptional, and by corollary, the FUBARs. This phenomenon is an adult version of everyone-gets-a-trophy. Only a few kids deserve a trophy.

We've been so beat down with disposable products and poor customer service that we have come to expect it. When we get basic customer service (i.e., getting what was promised) we think it's the cat's meow. A wall with a line across it qualifies as modern art worth millions so it's reasonable to think that if your food isn't spit on, dropped on the floor, and arrives quasi-warm it is a five-star experience.

There's no shame but it's treated like a scarlet letter instead.
Three stars mean every expectation was met. This is the very least a business should do. There's no shame but it's treated like a scarlet letter instead. Less than 1% of the time do I witness anything deserving higher.

Logically, there is no four- or five-star anything unless there's dispute or conflict. A company shows its mettle only when things go sour although most companies are incapable of delivering anything above a three and fail miserably when a problem arises.

Do expectations play a role? What would be three stars at a gourmet restaurant would certainly be five stars at a roadside diner, right? Luxury and pampering should still be three stars if that's what was promised. It may be a five-star experience but don't confuse the two.

At least 50% of the reviews address things that have no relevance to the product's usefulness or quality:
  • I received it today and can't wait to try it - 5 stars
  • The packaging was professional and secure - 5 stars
  • It was shipped fast and the seller answered all my questions - 5 stars
  • My friend recommended it so I bought it - 5 stars
  • It broke within the first few days so I sent it back for a refund - 4 stars
  • It was defective so I returned it - 3 stars
  • The package had a hole in it and some product was lost - 2 stars
  • The quality was excellent but the crooked (tiny) sticker on the bottom made it look cheap - 2 stars
  • Shipping took three weeks - 1 star

Sellers and buyers alike can leave reviews. The fear of being denied services, purchases, or whatever impels one to leave five-star (or positive) reviews, even for complaints.

As a business, there are golden rules:
  • Don't be an ass
  • Answer questions expediently
  • Be honest, truthful, and show integrity
  • Follow the laws
  • Be gracious and appreciative
  • Honor your word

This has all but disappeared as the digital age makes us more useless, less helpful, and more eager to blame something or someone else.

Posted by M: August 12, 2022

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