How to Handle Bad Yelp Reviews as a Business

how to handle bad yelp reviews business review

More than 80 percent of people say they trust online reviews as much as their friends. As a business owner, collecting online reviews is one of the best moves you can make.

There are many sites out there where customers can review your business. One of the best-known is Yelp, which has been around the internet now for over 20 years.

Dealing with positive reviews on any platform is easy. What should you do about bad Yelp reviews though? You can follow our step-by-step guide and come out winning with your company ratings. 

Research Bad Yelp Reviews

When you get a bad review, it can be tempting to react quickly. You may type out a hasty reply.

Don’t panic, though. Instead, keep a cool head and do some research. Not every bad review on Yelp is legitimate.

Some people may post fake reviews. This is especially common if you have lots of local competition. 

Your competitor may ask someone to post a poor review or do it themselves anonymously.

You can review some of the details of the incident. If a customer reviews your “terrible” pizza and you don’t serve pizza, this is an incident that never happened.

You can ask Yelp to remove some reviews. The site has software in place that flags reviews, but it doesn’t automatically delete them.

You can also verify other details:

  • Time and date. A customer may say they came to your store on a Monday, but you’re closed on Mondays.
  • Staff member names. If someone says they interacted with “Debbie” and there are no Debbie employees on staff, this is not a legitimate review.

Some reviews will stay as vague as possible, so you may not be able to gather all this information.

Respond Professionally to Bad Reviews

Let’s say you do verify that the incident the customer is complaining about took place. They came in on Tuesday, interacted with Dave, and ordered your Tuesday wing special.

You can use this information to discuss the incident with your employees. They may be able to share more information about what happened.

The next step is responding to the customer review. It’s a good idea to respond to reviews, whether they’re positive or negative.

It can be tempting to write a negative response to negative Yelp reviews. Resist the urge to blame the customer or tell them off.

Instead, maintain professional composure when you respond. You should always be diplomatic. An apology can go a long way, although you need to be careful.

Make it Right for the Customer

Next, you can offer to make things right for the customer. You may not be able to please everyone. 

Offering an apology and a small discount, though, may make the customer rethink a harsh review.

You may decide to reach out privately to the reviewer. You can invite them to contact you, or ask for permission to contact them. Be sure to stress that you want to make the situation right for them or to further discuss their concerns.

Showcase Great Customer Service Skills

Responding to a negative review privately may feel safer. You may not want to ask a reviewer to edit or remove their feedback publicly. You may also not want to discuss compensation or offers on a public forum.

Responding to a bad review publicly can win you points with other readers. First, it can show other people how you respond to complaints.

Next, it also gives you a chance to show off your customer service skills. If you don’t post a public response, people may think you don’t care about customer feedback.

You may be able to refute some of the customer’s points, but remember that the point isn’t to attack them or blame them. If someone said your restaurant is dirty, you can say you’re taking steps to address this feedback. Invite them back to see the difference.

In the same way, an offer of a discount or an apology shows that you are listening and that you care. You will reassure other customers that you are committed to great service.

Listen and Learn

With Yelp and other review sites, it’s tempting to respond in a panic. You may want to tell the customer all about the hard work your team does to keep your restaurant clean. Maybe you want to criticize their palate.

Instead of reacting this way, take some time to re-read the review. Negative reviews are a chance to listen to your customers and learn where you can improve.

It’s important to remember you can’t please everyone. Even if you decided to change up your wing sauce recipe to appease this one customer, they might still be unhappy.

That doesn’t mean all feedback is without merit, though. Pay attention to what your customers are saying and weigh their opinions. If many people are saying the restaurant’s a little dingy, it might be time to consider a renovation.

If they’re saying customer service isn’t up to par, then you might want to rethink your hiring process. Maybe it’s time to retrain your team.

Keep Getting Reviews

Getting a bad review on Yelp may make you shy away from letting customers review your business. You may ask if you can de-list your business from Yelp. You might be tempted to turn off reviews on your own site or to prevent them on Google My Business.

Reviews are still important for your customers. People trust reviews. Reviews also help your SEO and other marketing initiatives.

Don’t let one bad review close down the lines of communication. If you suspect the review isn’t legitimate, get in touch with Yelp. Otherwise, respond in a professional manner and see if you can’t make things right for the customer.

Even if they walk off angry, other customers will see the lengths you will go to in providing great service.

Manage Your Reputation

Bad Yelp reviews can be upsetting, but with this online reputation management guide, you can handle them like the pro you are.

Looking for more tips about reviews, Yelp, local SEO and more? Check out our library of informative articles and discover the knowledge you need to supercharge business growth.

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