3 tips for responding to Yelp reviews

By Morgan Remmers,

Manager of Local Business Outreach at Yelp

One of the keys to improving your restaurant's online reputation centers around your engagement. On Yelp, restaurateurs can connect with reviewers, optimize their business listing and attract new customers by utilizing the free tools available in their Business Account. 

Below are the top three tips for responding to reviews on Yelp:

1. Claim your business page to access your free response tools. On Yelp, you too have a voice when it comes to the reviews that are being written about your business. Once you claim your business page and create your free Business Account, you'll have access to a suite of free tools, including private and public messaging, to connect with consumers that have written reviews about your restaurant. You can locate the response tools in the 'Reviews' tab located on the left side of your account.

2. Determine if the review warrants a response. A new review has been posted to your restaurant's Yelp listing ... Now what? For starters, determine if the review is positive, constructive criticism or downright negative. If it's the latter of the three, it might be best to leave it alone entirely. It's impossible to please 100 percent of your customers 100 percent of the time, and attempting to engage in conversation with a customer who appears to be difficult to please may only add fuel to their fire. However, since about 80 percent of reviews on Yelp are 3 stars or higher, more often than not, your reviews will seem positive to neutral or constructive in tone and, in these instances, are worth responding to.

3. Choose the response tool best suited for the job. Sending a private message is much like sending someone a personal email and is visible only to the reviewer. This tool is best used to thank patrons for writing a positive review and is also a good first step to get more information from a customer about a less-than-positive experience. You can also post public comments which, when used properly, can be your greatest PR tool. While you still want to address the reviewer directly, a public comment posts right underneath the review you're responding to for all consumers to see. This tool is most effective when you thank the reviewer for their feedback and state your policy or clarify any inaccuracies in the consumer's review.

It can be hard to receive critical feedback, but we recommend that business owners respond diplomatically. Some find it helpful to have someone read over their response before hitting the 'send' button. Business owners should keep in mind that consumers are looking at the BIG picture about how a business is being perceived, so we recommend that they try not to focus or obsess over one single review. It's also great to pay some attention to happy customers by sending them a quick private message, thanking them for taking the time to write a positive review.

Businesses that are diligent in monitoring and responding diplomatically to their reviews will reap the benefits. Not only will they have the best insight into where they can improve based on the constructive criticism they receive, they'll also be viewed by their customers as a business that cares about their clients' feedback.

Morgan Remmers is the manager of Local Business Outreach at Yelp. Morgan addresses how local business owners can best approach the growing world of online reviews. She also hosts a series of webinars on subjects relevant to business owners and regularly contributes content to Yelp's "Blog for Business Owners." Morgan works with Yelp's Small Business Advisory Council and acts as a liaison between the small business community and the different divisions within Yelp.

Photo provided by Flickr user Michael Dorausch.

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