How to Respond to Negative Comments on Yelp

How to Respond to Negative Comments on Yelp

Posted on September 24, 2012

People are crazy. Let's nail that down first. You know you have your moments too. You know those days, when you didn't get enough sleep, you have a head cold, you bounced a check at the Pet Store for Fluffy, and to top it all off you get bad service at that one place. Maybe the food was good, but that one waiter or waitress just seemed less than interested in being your best friend forever. So you hop on Yelp shoot out an odd, hurt, and one star review. The next thing you know, a professional actor is reading your Yelp review in dramatic fashion, exposing your absurdness to the world. Maybe the scenario isn't you, but it was Dan. B. It happens.

When it happens, how do you respond to negative and sometimes absurd comments?

1. Don't Freak Out

This is going to happen. Someone is going to hate you. Deal with it. The worst thing you can do is retaliate, write a diatribe in response, and try to strong arm the situation.

The business owner doth protest too much, methinks.

Believe it or not, there are a good percentage of users who do look at reviews with some degree of objective rationality. Trust that they are out there, and that they will respond to the facts of the situation.

2. An Ounce of Prevention

So, it's too late to stop that guy from reviewing you negatively, but maybe it is a symptom of a bigger problem. Maybe you need to be more proactive with customer service. It is always easier to address the issue before it becomes a public review.

Still, bad reviews happen.

3. You Must Verify Your Yelp Business

You need a Yelp account

You can signup for one here.

Then, you can go to the Yelp for Business Owners page.

You will also need to verify that you are a business owner, which is verified through your local business phone number.

From within the Business Owners area of Yelp, you can see all reviews for your business. Then you will see where you can send either a private message or add a public comment.

4. First, Reach Out Privately

Ideally, you can reach out to a reviewer privately. I recommend doing this anytime you get a Yelp comment. If it is positive, say thanks. If it is negative, say thanks ... and ask how you can be better next time or solve their issue.

You would be amazed at how people may change their tune with just a little humble peace making.

For clarification, threatening to sue the individual for slander if they do not remove their review is not humble peace making.

5. Be Careful with Public Comments

I have seen three week old comments get filtered all of a sudden. There is still hope that the over-the-top reviews get filtered. If you can stand it, wait it out a few weeks before publicly responding.

If you feel you need to respond, you must be careful with public comments.

5 Be's for Commenting

  • Be professional
  • Be courteous
  • Be thankful for feedback
  • Be brief
  • Be factual

4 Don't Be's for Commenting

  • Don't be combative
  • Don't be personally offended
  • Don't be telling the reader how to interpret the conversation
  • Don't be making excuses

Taking the low road is going to pay off.

6. Have Fun with Trolls

If you can have fun with a bad review, it shows that you have confidence in your business. It shows that one Internet troll didn't hit a nerve. It shows that you had a good business ethic to start with.

JoeDough publicized their bad comment on a sign

review on sign

Pizzeria Delfina publicized their bad comment on a shirt

yelp on shirt

The end of the matter is this: People do consult Yelp and although you can fool some of the people some of the time, the crazy reviews are read with a grain of salt. Stay the course, and focus on making your business better than it was yesterday.


Yelp recently released this video on the topic:

Meet Our Staff Kevin Burzynski

Written by Kevin Burzynski

Kevin has worked at imavex since 2006 in a number of areas, including search engine optimization, search engine marketing and project management. Kevin focuses on delivering inbound and organic marketing results for imavex clients. You can view his Google+ profile here.

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