A Quest for Five-Star Ratings Unveiled Universal Customer Service Principles

Corry van den Brink
Founder & CEO

In a bustling city, The Emporium, a prestigious shopping center, struggled with a four-star online rating, yearning for the elusive fifth star. Businesses must now aim for a perfect score in the digital age. Five-star businesses prioritize relationships, manage online reputation actively, seek feedback, and feature hands-on leadership. A case study from an amusement park illustrates steps to improve ratings: awareness, training, tracking, and celebration. Businesses with numerous past reviews can start monitoring their performance monthly or quarterly. Elevating to five-star status requires commitment and a customer-centric approach, regardless of size or industry.

In the heart of a busy city, a prestigious shopping center, The Emporium, was experiencing an existential dilemma. Their online ratings were stagnant at a "mediocre" four stars. Management felt the pressure—there was a gaping chasm between their current state and the elusive five-star rating, considered the golden standard in today's digital age. Despite their best efforts—ambiance renovations, new store openings, and promotional events—the needle on those stars wouldn't budge.

The Changing Landscape of Star Ratings

In a previous article, we delved into the evolution of the five-star rating system, demystifying the notion that three stars are average—it's more akin to failing. The mystery surrounding the nebulous four-star terrain remains. How do you stack up against your industry? For newcomers, having a rating of 4.8 or above is essential. A score of 4.3 might be tolerable for veterans, but it's not ideal. Aiming for that unblemished five-star reputation is non-negotiable, irrespective of your business age or size.

Common Traits of Five-Star Businesses

After scrutinizing successful businesses with five-star reputations, some common attributes surface:

  1. Relationship-Centric Approach: These businesses invest in building lasting relationships rather than short-lived transactions.
  2. Active Online Reputation Management: Keeping track of online feedback and responding promptly to positive or negative reviews is a regular habit.
  3. Constant Quest for Feedback: They proactively seek customer opinions and use that feedback as an invaluable marketing tool.
  4. Hands-On Leadership: More often, these are smaller businesses where the owners are involved in daily operations, setting the tone for the entire team.

The Four Pillars to Climb the Ratings Ladder

Case Study: Lessons from an Amusement Park

Drawing upon my experience managing an amusement park, we faced a similar dilemma. Our ratings on TripAdvisor had slipped to an unacceptable 4.2 stars from over 400 reviews. So, we initiated a multi-step action plan:

  1. Awareness: The first step was educating the team about the current scenario and the importance of elevating our ratings.
  2. Training: Daily morning sessions were dedicated to honing customer service skills. We equipped our employees with tools to build relationships, even in the high-paced setting of the amusement park.
  3. Tracking: A designated team member would track TripAdvisor reviews weekly, and we would display these reviews—good and bad—in the staff room for all to see.
  4. Celebration: Within three months, we climbed to a 4.4 rating—a small but significant victory we celebrated as a team.

It wasn't just about boosting our TripAdvisor rating. It was about creating a culture focused on delivering exceptional service. This strategy is not confined to amusement parks or shopping centers—it's universal.

Strategies for Those Stuck in the Past

Don't lose hope if hundreds or thousands of past reviews burden you. You can start tracking your performance on a monthly or quarterly basis. This allows your team to see immediate improvements, encouraging them to contribute further to this collective goal.


While The Emporium was a fictional example, their struggles are all too real for many businesses. Navigating the complex world of online ratings is a daunting challenge, but it’s not insurmountable. By building lasting relationships, actively managing your online reputation, incessantly seeking feedback, and ensuring leadership buy-in, you can elevate your business to the zenith of five-star glory.

Take a moment to reflect: How close are you to achieving those coveted five-star ratings, and what actionable steps are you taking today to inch closer to that goal? Stay engaged if you find value in this article and crave more insights. In our upcoming installment, we'll delve into the essential customer service skills that today's dynamic landscape demands. These insights will empower you and your team to make substantial progress towards earning those coveted 5-star accolades.

May 1, 2024