July 9

How to Respond to Yelp Reviews, Both Positive and Negative

Online marketing


Customer reviews are very important for businesses. For one, other consumers rely on them to decide whether they can trust your products and services. For another, Google uses them to determine which web pages rank higher, both in general search results, and in the Local Pack. Today we will show you how to nurture more positive reviews by teaching you how to respond to Yelp reviews.

What Is the Importance of Yelp Reviews for Your Business?

Yelp, just like TripAdvisor, is a website specialising in customer reviews. This is what they do: they aggregate reviews for businesses listed there. And consumers know that. Before stepping into your store, many customers probably looked up your business on Yelp.

This means three things for your business:

  • You must create a profile on Yelp
  • You should strive to encourage your clients to leave reviews
  • You must monitor and respond to Yelp reviews.

Since Yelp is a platform that aggregates reviews, it is sometimes a target for trolls. They are people who purposefully leave damaging reviews in order to hurt businesses – some of which they never interacted with. The Yelp team states that they will analyse requests for removing spam comments. However their stance is that they do not take down content “lightly” and allow users to “stand by what they write”.

The First Step: Create a Checklist for Responding to Reviews

You can make the process of responding to Yelp reviews simpler if you create a checklist for it. For instance, consider the following aspects:

  • Who is in charge with responding to reviews
  • How frequently they should check for new reviews and respond
  • What is the tone of voice for these answers?

You can also create template for answers. However, do not use them indiscriminately. When you respond to Yelp reviews, users must feel that a person is writing to them, not a robot sending predefined messages. The templates should be for inspiration purposes, and customised by the person posting the replies. You can define some simple, standardised replies, such as “we are currently investigating your issue and will get back to you soon”. But always add a few personal touches to the response, as well.

How to Respond to Yelp Reviews from Unhappy Customers

While some reviews may be spammy and you may get a take-down decision from Yelp, you should consider that most negative reviews are honest. Thus, you have to respond to Yelp reviews from unhappy customers.

The worst way of dealing with these negative reviews is ignoring them. They will stay online as long as Yelp exists. And other consumers will see them and think: “they didn’t even bother to ask what went wrong.” Next thing, the consumers are looking for other businesses – your competitors.

So, how do you respond to negative reviews on Yelp? Here are a few simple suggestions:

1. Be Polite and Helpful

First of all, you do not want to enrage an already upset customer by responding in an aggressive manner to their negative review. On the contrary, be polite and express your regret that the customer had a negative experience at your place of business.

At the same time, you should thank the client for the review. “Thank them for a negative review?” you may wonder. Yes, that’s right. The fact that they took the time to write the review means that they are not ready to give up on your business. They had an unpleasant experience and they expect you to take action and fix it. Then, they can trust you again.

2. Explain What You Are Doing to Solve the Issue

Next thing you must say is how you propose to solve the customer’s grievance. If you need further details, take the conversation to a private channel – telephone and email – and tell the customer to contact you to discuss in detail.

If there is something you can fix based on the information included in the review, explain it clearly. This will show all the other users that you are taking complaints seriously and addressing them.

3. End Your Reply on a Positive Note

Do not assume that you’ve lost a customer just because they left a negative Yelp review. After detailing what you are doing to solve their problem, thank them again for their message. Also, tell them that you are looking out to seeing them in your store again, where they will have the positive experience they were looking for.

How to Respond to Yelp Reviews from Happy Customers

Yes, you need to take action after positive reviews, as well. People behave on the principle of reciprocity: you do something nice for me and I do something nice for you. Thus, after taking the time to leave a positive review, they expect a sort of recognition.

Here is how to give it:

1. Say Thank You

There is only one good way to respond to a Yelp review that praises your products and services: by saying thank you. Say it simply and warmly, just like you would do it when you are face to face with the client.

2. Reinforce the Positive Message

Next, you will continue your reply by essentially repeating what the customer said and adding details, which will be useful for other readers as well. For instance, if they enjoyed the fresh taste of a meal in your restaurant, you can say something like this:

“We are happy that you enjoyed our dishes. We take great care in selecting only the best ingredients and preparing them with care and full observance of food safety rules”.

3. Reward a Happy Customer from Time to Time

When you respond to Yelp reviews, you also have a great opportunity to promote customer loyalty. For example, you can tell the client that they will enjoy a discount on their next visit to your store, using the special code you sent them by email.

4. End Your Response with an Invitation

Even if you do not resort to offering a discount, you should still capitalise on the customer’s positive experience and invite them to visit your store again. It is a classic call to action for a response to a positive Yelp review and it actually works.

Final Thoughts

There is no question about it: you need to respond to Yelp reviews, both positive and negative. The way you handle these responses will show other users what kind of business you run: one that values customers and tries to make things right in case of error, or one that simply sees them as walking wallets.

We know that you are striving to make your customers happy and you feel hurt when you get a negative review, because you are putting heart, soul and sweat into your business. This is why you have to take the time to browse your Yelp reviews and respond to them in a timely manner.

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