Online Reviews: You learn from complaints not praise


Five star reviews tell what you are currently doing well. Anything else shows you have room to improve.

Everyone loves to be told that they are doing well. There is nothing wrong with that. Praise can lead to increased motivation, increased drive, and essentially a happier workforce. However, I have found that this actually does very little, especially in the medium to long term. Praise every so often can have huge effects, but when you see it everyday it becomes the norm, and the norm is rarely exciting, and it doesn’t grab your attention.

When you hear or see the same things every day you stop learning, you become demotivated and you can even become complacent. That’s not good, that means you can lose your focus on improving customer experience, and ultimately lose customers.

Now, before you have a go at me, i’m not saying that you should try and not get five star ratings. I’m under no illusion that publicly, from a customers point of view, having five star reviews looks so much better than having one stars (even if you’ve actively replied and addressed those one star reviews). But, do you actually learn anything from people telling you that you are great? The answer is no. It looks good, and it definitely helps to solidify your position as a potential company for people to spend their money with, but ultimately being told repeatedly you have great service doesn’t teach you anything new.

Control the controllables

When people complain (no matter the reason) they have found something not to their liking. Some things you can control and others you cannot. The ones you can’t control, there is nothing you can do about it, but keep note of it, because one day you may be able to control it. The controllable elements are the important ones right now. Why? Because someone has taken the time out of their day to complain, which most likely means that they care.

If they complain about something that is controllable, surely that is a sign that you could potentially make an improvement to your processes, event, work flow, or whatever it is that’s relevant to the complaint. If the air-con was too cold, look at turning it up a little? If the food wasn’t right, maybe you should look at a different caterer? If an order was sent to a wrong address, maybe there is a flaw in your order processing?

I’m not saying that all complaints can be dealt with that easily, but if someone complains and has taken the time to do so, the least you can do is take the time to reply and attempt to rectify the situation if at all possible. Not all issues can be resolved, but at least by knowing about the complaint and by attempting to solve ti you will be able to learn if there is a fault that you can solve. If you can solve it great, that’s potentially worth a few five star reviews in the future.

Always try to solve customer complaints
Always try to solve customer complaints

Always show that you care

Customer service online is a spectator sport, people love seeing and reading complaints about companies. By showing that you acknowledge a complaint and are addressing it, or are at least taking strides to address it, you are going to look favourably in potential customers eyes. You are showing that you care by replying, you are showing that you value the customer by offering solutions, and you are showing that you are learning by actually changing the controllable issue so that the complaint cannot be made again. That my friends is customer service. That is what makes you stand out from the rest.

By at least replying you are are 50% of the way there. The way you reply though is potentially even more important. A rude, dismissive or downright insulting reply is going to take you back past where you started. A polite, courteous reply with an apology and a solution will be far more productive. This is something that I will discuss in more retail in future articles!

To summarise five stars highlight how good you currently are, every other star rating shows how far you still have to go. Use every rating and review that’s less than five star as an opportunity to learn. If you show that you are willing to do that customers will forgive the occasional low star review.

Agree? Disagree? I’d love to know your thoughts. Please leave them below, and if you’d like to read anything else i’ve written please have a look around the rest of the website!

Ben M Roberts ♣💻♣
Head of Marketing at Talkative ✔️ Digital Marketing Strategist ✔️ Speaker ✔️ Web Chat & Human Marketing ✔️ Podcaster ✔️
Price is no longer the ultimate differentiator for business big or small. Instead the digital age has given rise to two new powers; Online Reviews and Social Customer Service.

Online Reviews and Social Customer Service are two incredible tools for both customers and businesses alike. The problem is that customers are generally using them a lot better than businesses.

My goal is to help businesses use these tools for a number of reasons; to stand out from the crowd, to be able to continually improve their trading practices, to make customers want to come back, and to use these happy customers as an effective marketing tool.

In all of my marketing roles, I have worked hard to create a customer-centric approach to marketing. By doing this, I am able to encourage customers to leave Online Reviews of the business, allowing us to continually improve and consistency offer a service that meets and exceeds expectations.

I live and breathe Online Reviews. I speak and keynote about this topic around the country at conferences and seminars, so that I can teach my passion and encourage businesses to ‘Embrace the Reviewlution’.

As well as speaking about Online Reviews and Social Customer Service I also regularly blog on the subject at, write articles here on LinkedIn and I am in the process of writing my first business book entitled ‘The Online Reviewlution®’

I’m always keen to connect with people are share my experiences in the world of Marketing, Online Reviews and Social Customer Service. Here’s why you should get in touch:

7+ years marketing experience
Head of Marketing at a Top 100 UK insurance broker
Keynote Speaker at conferences around the UK
Writing my first Business Book ‘The Online Reviewlution’

If you are interested in connecting with me please do

You can contact me at or via my website