The last time you purchased something online, you were probably asked to rate the product on a scale of one to five. Most product marketers love stockpiling 5-star reviews for two reasons: they demonstrate competitive superiority while simultaneously making their C-Suite execs feel all warm and fuzzy. However, while a mountain of 5-star reviews may look impressive, from a business storytelling perspective, they are less valuable than other ratings. Why? Well, let’s rank each from least valuable to most valuable:


Rating Business Storytelling Value
3-star reviews are worthless because they’re ambivalent. Ambivalence has no point and without a point, there’s no story to tell.
5-star reviews are slightly more valuable, but they still don’t tell us very much. Sure the reviewer loved the product, but that’s it. There’s no context. Facts without context form the very definition of narrative as opposed to a story.
1-star reviews form the basis of an emotional story. By choosing the lowest rating, the reviewer has found no redeeming value in your product or service. 1-star reviews are so negatively biased, however, that there’s nothing new to learn from the information.
2-star reviews contain the ingredients of a complex story. While 2-star reviewers aren’t satisfied, they’ve at least found some redeeming quality in the product. 2-star reviews are target-rich environments for companies to uncover business stories because, unlike their 1-star counterparts, 2-star reviewers might be willing to tell both the good and bad sides of their experience.
The most valuable business stories come from 4-star reviews. These reviewers obviously like the product or service, yet not enough to give it the top rating. 4-star reviews open up the possibility for product improvements. Many 4-star reviewers care about your product and therefore are open to providing exceptional feedback…err…if your company is willing to take it.


Ratings and reviews offer ideas to make your products better. So, the next time you present your customer satisfaction data to upper management, skim over the 5-star reviews and focus on the 4 and 2-stars. These even-numbered ratings contain stories that will either make your products better or suggest ideas for creating entirely new ones.


Photo Credit: Bain News Service, Publisher. Whitehill. , ca. 1915. [Between and Ca. 1920] Photograph. Retrieved from the Library of Congress,