A Five-Star Review for Five-Star Reviewers

By Natalie Franke Published on August 22, 2021

Words pack a punch, whether spoken face to face, whispered behind a back or posted online for the entire world to read.

For small business owners and employees, words have never wielded more power — to do good or harm — than today. Entrepreneurs emerge from the pandemic lockdown in a fragile state, struggling with labor shortages, supply-chain woes and the effects of COVID on changing customer habits. Today, a negative word spoken (or posted) in haste will have an outsized impact.

So, let me give a five-star review to the five-star reviewers out there whose efforts are part of the solution for small businesses and, indeed, every business.

Making a Positive Difference

I want to be clear that I’m not advocating for you to accept terrible service or ignore serious issues you may encounter. However, I am asking that you evaluate your behavior before taking an action that could deeply wound the reputation of a small business.

My first star goes to you because you reached beyond yourself and did something for someone else. We were a polarized nation before COVID. A year of isolation, online-only connection, personal hardship and loss has not helped.

By taking the time to conceive, write and share your good opinion, you have made a positive difference not just for a fellow human, but for a business owner, operator or employee. These are words that pay it forward. They single out good work and so encourage more of it. Everyone benefits from that.

Better in Community

A second star goes to you for being your best. We live in a competitive environment. The charge to those who want to succeed is “Be the best!” I take issue with that. We are better in community than competition. Being your best is a way for you to succeed while leaving bandwidth to help others succeed — like by posting a deserved five-star review.

If the past year has taught us anything it’s that even apart, we are better off together.

Finding Good

The third star goes for your mindset of looking to build up vs. tear down. Tearing someone down does not make you taller. Looking for the best in others does not make you worse.

It is so easy to walk into a store, a restaurant or a place of service and let your inner snark-monster run wild. In fact, that takes no effort at all. We excel at fault finding. You get a star for being good at “good finding.” A salesperson went beyond selling you a product to ensure you bought the right product for you. Your ride-share driver invested his most precious resource — time — to help get your unwieldy packages to the front door. Your server chased you half a block to return the credit card you had left with your bill.

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And you noticed. That takes effort. And that develops a mindset we need today.

By the way, this goes for big and medium-size businesses, too. Whatever size the organization, the people in it want to know when their team is doing well.

Connection Via the Internet

You get a star for putting the internet to good use. I believe the opportunity for connection the internet offers is a wonderful thing. We are able to build supportive community at a speed and on a scale as never before. It can generate more one-on-one, in-person encounters even as it enables us to connect over distance.

But that’s not all it can be used for. People can hide behind it to say and do hurtful, harmful things. You remembered there is a person on the other side of the screen and that you are not having a private conversation. The world is invited!

You used the internet to single out a job well done, to make someone’s day, to alert others in your community of an opportunity to receive good service. In other words, you used the online community just as you do your in-person community — to compliment, to share, to enhance.

Helping Out

Your fifth star is for being bold enough to not fit in. In today’s world, it has become increasingly more commonplace to vocalize our frustration than it is to sing the praises of businesses we love. And to judge from way too many instances, fitting in today means posting a video of patrons angrily berating employees over enforcing policies or ranting at neighborhood forums over slow service or minor inconveniences.

You redefined fitting in to mean helping out.

An Unprecedented Time

Of course, you don’t have to post a review online to be a five-star reviewer. You can speak kindly to a harried, overworked clerk. You can quietly tell a manager what a good job an employee did. You can be patient with the customer service representative on the phone. You can tell those in your community about a business doing business well.

Think about this — you are living in an unprecedented time, experiencing things no one alive today has experienced. The people who own, operate or work for businesses in your circle have experienced challenges and hardship also unprecedented.

And it’s not over.

But people like you are helping us get there.


Natalie Franke is the co-founder of the Rising Tide Society, uniting over 70,000 creatives around the world in the spirit of community over competition. Her book, Built to Belong: Discovering the Power of Community over Competition, launches Aug. 24.

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