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Behind the Review | 4 steps to a successful review response strategy

Photo of The Candle Pour from Sarah S. on Yelp

This episode of Behind the Review features highlights from our past two seasons on one of the most-discussed topics: how businesses respond to reviews. Customer reviews and the business’s responses are read by customers to evaluate the company’s values, willingness to fix mistakes, and more. 

Responding to reviews—both positive and negative—is a great way to show those customers that you prioritize customer service. In fact, a 2021 survey showed 88% of customers are more likely to overlook a negative review if they see that the business has responded to it and addressed the issue. 

To help you put a plan in place, start with these four steps for managing reviews—advised by both business owners and Yelp reviewers alike. 

1. Be prepared to respond

Have a plan in place to respond to reviews, whether you agree with them or not, and thank the customer for their feedback.

“On every platform, I comment back on every review—good, bad, or ugly—because I think it’s very important. Why would you only respond to the negative? You have to reach out to the people that took their time to give you a positive review and let them know that you appreciate them.”
Vadim Nayman, owner of Bagel Master in Syosset, New York

“If there is a negative review, it’s a good teaching moment. No matter what it is, even if we didn’t do anything wrong, it’s still a good teaching moment. So we do address that. We try to respond to every single review to say, ‘Thank you.’”
Dennis Akers, owner of The Candle Pour in Tampa, Florida

2. Show off your customer service

Your response can deepen the relationship with a customer and reflect your customer service practices to all future consumers.

“When I’m reading reviews about a business and I see a company responding, it gives me an idea about who that company is. To me, a random 1-star review doesn’t mean much because usually I’m like, ‘Okay, Karen, moving on,’ but I can tell a lot when I see a business responding about what kind of business model they have. Are they customer focused? Are they calm, cool, and collected in their response? There’s so much you can learn about the company that you’re about to do business with.”
–Yelp reviewer Jennifer W. 

3. Be open to feedback

When things go wrong or a customer’s expectations aren’t met, gather any learnings or takeaways for your team.

“I’ll listen to [critical feedback from customers] and I’ll be like: ‘Listen, I’m taking action on this. I’m going to build a better company.’ Every time, I thank them for it. Thank you for the 1-star review. This is how I grow. Without you bringing these mistakes to my attention, I would never know they were occurring. So you’re a layer of accountability for me to build a better business.”
Josh Campbell, owner of Rescue Air Heating and Cooling in Richardson, Texas

4. Always take the high road

Your words are a reflection of your business, so make sure to remain professional and respectful in your response. 

“Usually I will start off the conversation—whether it’s on email, whether it’s public online on Yelp, or however else we reach the customer—and in a true empathetic, Faitos fashion, with a lot of sincerity, I’m going to say something like, ‘I wish I could turn the clock back and make this right in your experience the first time.’ 

I’m not concerned about getting the person to change the hypothetical 1-star review to a 2-star review or a 5-star review. I’m not looking for more stars. I want to talk about that for a moment. I’m looking to express sincerity. I’m looking to express care and I’m looking to express, “What can we do to make this right?”
Nic Faitos, owner of Starbright Floral Design in New York City

For more insight and advice on reviews and responses, listen to the episode below, and subscribe to Behind the Review for more from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.

Available on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, and Soundcloud

The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.

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