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How to Respond to Negative Yelp Reviews

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Receiving a negative review online can sometimes feel like a punch to the gut. Given all of the hard work you put into your business, it can be frustrating to receive feedback, but instead of unleashing your frustrations on the reviewer, it’s important to take a step back, take a deep breath and reflect on some productive ways to handle the situation.

    So why is it important to pay attention to online reviews? Well, as TJ McCue of Forbes recently noted about online reviews and Yelp: “To think that consumer review sites are going to disappear any time soon, or ever, is a mistake.”

    The concept of word of mouth has been around forever and we look at online review sites like Yelp as word-of-mouth amplified. Instead of fighting or ignoring your online critics, we encourage you to get involved in the conversations that are happening about you online.

    Yelp provides business owners with a free set of tools -- biz.yelp.com -- that allows them to have a voice and personality on the site and engage with their consumers. Below are our best practices for doing just that:

    1. Start with great customer service: Generally speaking, most successful businesses place an emphasis on making sure their customers feel great after they walk out the door. Yelp actually recently did a study on quantifying the term “customer service” and its impact on reviews both good and bad. Needless to say, the offline experience you provide customers is what will dictate your online feedback.

    2. Stay cool: If you find yourself getting too emotional over your reviews, you may not be the best person to respond. Try appointing an office manager or a trusted employee as the point person to manage your online presence. Also note that if you see a review written by someone with an “orange head” (no photo) and no friends, it may not be worth losing sleep over. Consumers on Yelp naturally gravitate to reviewers who have an established presence, and that’s generally where your time is best spent too.

    3. Respond diplomatically: Use Yelp’s free review response tools to join the conversation about your business. You can respond privately or publicly, but always take the high road -- remember, the Internet has a very long memory. If you feel like a review goes against our terms of service, you also have the option of flagging it for evaluation by our user support team.

    4. Implement feedback: Online reviews can help savvy business owners figure out what they’re doing well and what they can improve on. We’ve met with several business owners who go over Yelp reviews with their employees during staff meetings and implement constructive feedback accordingly.

    Danny Wurst is the community manager and marketing director for Yelp Chicago. In addition to leading the local community of Yelp reviewers both online and off, he also regularly interacts with business owners to answer questions and provide insight on online services like Yelp. When he's not working (or sometimes when he is), he's enjoying his favorite meal: a burger and beer.