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Tips for responding to reviews on Yelp

Business owner responding to reviews on laptop
Photo by Brooke Cagle

96% of review readers pay attention to businesses’ responses to reviews, showing that a business’s response is important when consumers are choosing where they’ll spend their money. It’s no longer just what consumers say about your business—it’s also about what you say back.

Responding to reviews shows people what to expect from you when it comes to customer service. It also shows that you care about your customers in a very public way. It’s a great marketing tool, but it requires a bit of strategy because reviews can be tough. We all know that not every review is five stars. Reviews can feel personal and hurt. You’re not alone in feeling that.

These dos and don’ts for responding to reviews will help you navigate even the trickiest reviews. Learn more about how reviews work on Yelp.

If you prefer to listen along, check out the audio version below.

Do: Respond to every review, even the positive ones

You provide all of your customers with great service so why leave your biggest fans hanging? It might seem like a lot of work, but the reward is worth it.

Through your Yelp for Business account, you can respond to your customers to let them know you appreciate their words of praise or their constructive criticism. And remember, positive reviews are something to be celebrated so share them with your staff, social media networks, and beyond.

Do: Select your review response method intentionally

You can respond to individual reviews in two ways: by public comment or direct message

A public comment can be viewed by anyone who is looking at your Yelp Business Page. Your response appears directly below the review you are responding to. That means your response doesn’t just speak to the reviewer but all page visitors too. A public comment on a positive review is a great way to thank the reviewer for taking the time to share their experience. You can also use your response to highlight something within the review you want to amplify. Public comments can be used to address critical feedback as well. You can use them to highlight your customer service and your business’s policies. You should always start the review response with a public comment.

A direct message works like an email communication between you and the reviewer. This is a great way to get more information and have a direct conversation with the consumer. It’s the perfect follow-up to a public comment if you want to learn more or take the conversation offline. Remember, direct messages are still a reflection of your business, so keep it professional and avoid argumentative or aggressive language.

We recommend starting with a public comment that is personalized to the specific review. You can send a direct message as a follow-up to learn more and move the conversation offline.

If you don’t have time to send a personalized message to every positive review you receive, consider sending a direct message rather than a public comment. You can also use the “Thank” button when you’re in a pinch.

Don’t: Delay your response time

As it relates to critical feedback, timeliness is everything. A quick turn-around time illustrates that you pay attention to and prioritize customer service.

This mirrors a study Jay Baer talks about in his book, Hug Your Haters. Jay teamed up with Edison Research and found that 53% of customers expect a reply on review sites. Businesses experience a 16% boost in customer advocacy by answering complaints on review sites. Meanwhile, businesses that ignore complaints on review sites experience a 37% decline in customer advocacy.

Don’t: Lose your cool when responding

Your initial reaction when it comes to responding to critical feedback might be to defend your business. You might event want to point out every part of a review that is wrong, false, inaccurate, or misrepresents your business. Before you write that response, take a minute.

Remember to take the high road. You risk damaging your reputation if you respond negatively. Remain professional, respond publicly, and take the conversation offline as soon as you can.

A public comment to the review shows that you addressed the concerns and appreciate customer feedback. You don’t want to appear argumentative or closed off to customer feedback.

Do: Follow this easy formula for crafting a review response

  1. Start by thanking the reviewer for providing feedback about their experience.
  2. Highlight something positive they said in the review.
  3. Address any concerns or share your business philosophy.
  4. Conclude by inviting them back or with a way to continue the conversation offline, like a direct message, your email, or phone number.

Responding to reviews is a great way to join the conversation with your customers online. It helps reflect your customer service practices and builds buying confidence in consumers.

To respond to your Yelp reviews, log into or download the Yelp for Business mobile app.

Listen to the audio version

As a part of Yelp’s Trust & Safety efforts, it’s also important to note that Yelp’s automated recommendation software works against solicited reviews, so be sure to steer clear of asking for reviews. For more info, check out this quick, informative video:

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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