ReviewBuzz CEO on How to Handle Negative Yelp Reviews

Yelp takes a beating from some business owners. They see Yelp as the dark side of the internet - the place where people go to write nasty, negative reviews about businesses.

And many of us see our hard-earned 5-star Yelp reviews banished to the “Other reviews that are not currently recommended” section of Yelp. The section no one ever sees.

Regardless of your attitudes or perceptions of Yelp, the simple fact is - you can make Yelp work for you, especially when it comes to handling those negative reviews.

At ReviewBuzz we advise our clients to respond to all their online reviews (both the positive and the negative), especially those on Yelp. Yelp is just too visible and your brand is too important to ignore them.

Yes, negative reviews are uncomfortable and we want to avoid them, but the simple fact is you can increase your star rating and reduce the negative impact on your business simply by addressing negative reviews.

Below are few tips to help you handle negative Yelp reviews:

First, relax and let go of the emotions. How you respond brands your company for potential customers, so look at this is as a golden opportunity to show the world how you operate your business.

Next, go to your Yelp business account and log-in to add your comment to the review.

Resolving the issue right there on Yelp for all the world to see will tell a story to future visitors that you care and that you’re committed to making customers happy.


Make sure to include these things in your response…

  • Start with an attitude of gratitude - thank the customer for their feedback.
  • Take responsibility – admit you made a mistake and state that you want to make it right.
  • Have the comment come from the business owner - this shows everyone that customer service is a top priority for your business.
  • Let the customer know you’ll be sending them a private message through Yelp as well.
  • Then tell the customer you’ll be calling to follow up as well.

Next, send the private message mentioned above to the customer via your Yelp Business Account.


In the private message…

  • Thank the customer again for the feedback.
  • Be contrite – admit the mistake and that you want to make it right.
  • Give them your cell phone number and ask them to call you.
  • Tell the customer you will be calling personally as well.

After you have resolved the issue you can ask the customer for either an update to the review (this is preferred because it tells a great story of customer service to future visitors), or you can ask them to remove the review completely.

We've had customers go back and change the review from one star to four stars, and we’ve had others remove them completely. Either way is better than letting those negative reviews sit there without closure for potential customers to see.

And finally, since you can’t rely on all your negative reviewers to change their minds - and their rating - it’s important to generate a steady stream of 5-star reviews.

So keep providing great service and put a system in place to continually collect great reviews, because the more great reviews on your Yelp page the less volatile your star rating will be. You’ll be able to absorb 1- or 2-star reviews without it impacting your overall rating.

Mike Montano is an HVAC contractor and CEO of ReviewBuzz, a software company dedicated to helping good service people get great reviews. He is an expert in internet marketing for local service businesses, and is an authority in the burgeoning field of online reputation management.

Coming Soon: ReviewBuzz and ServiceTitan are soon to be seamlessly integrated, giving ServiceTitan clients a hands-free way to get 5-star online reviews on sites like Yelp, Google, Facebook and more. To learn more about ReviewBuzz and to get a exclusive limited-time offer for ServiceTitan clients, click here.

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