12 Examples of Great Responses to Negative Yelp Reviews
Negative reviews can feel like a slap in the face, which is completely understandable — you’re passionate about what you do, and it hurts when someone says something negative about your business.
The fact is, you can’t make everyone happy, and it’s inevitable that at some point one of your customers will post a review that doesn’t paint your company in the greatest light…in a public forum… for all your current and potential customers to see. (Yikes!)
What should you do when a client writes a negative review about you on Yelp?
We’re going to show you twelve great examples of how business owners have handled this sticky situation and show you how you can learn from them.
Responding to negative Yelp reviews is a must
As a small business owner, it’s your responsibility to manage your reputation, and online reviews are critical to referrals. According to BrightLocal’s Annual Local Consumer Report Survey 2018, 89% of consumers read business’ responses to reviews.
That means consumers are watching you on Yelp. Your prospects want to see how you handle positive and negative feedback. It’s an important buying indicator for them.
If you think that your prospects aren’t actually searching for client reviews of your business online, think again. Brightlocal found that 86% of consumers read reviews for local businesses, and the numbers increase within younger demographics.
Consumers end up reading an average of ten reviews online before they begin trusting a local business. So if your Yelp review game isn’t strong, then you should consider working on it!
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Taking the time to resolve issues online shows your community that you value every customer, no matter what they have to say.
The good news is that you can often reduce or even reverse the effects of a negative review by crafting a clear, professional response as quickly as possible.
According to Yelp, responding to a review within a 24-hour time period makes the reviewer 33% more likely to upgrade their review.
If you’re not sure how to approach a negative review, or aren’t sure about how to turn the situation around, take a look at some strategies below.
1. Forgetting to follow-up
Let’s be real: it’s not easy to keep track of every client interaction. You either have to be on the ball, or have a fantastic field service CRM to remind you to follow-up after a client interaction or site visit. On top of that, following up after a quote can be tricky to navigate too.
If you find yourself in this situation, take inspiration from Justin, Owner of A & J Fencing. He has done a great job of sincerely taking ownership of the situation.
He has also personalized the message by addressing the reviewer by name. He acknowledged that he may have lost the reviewer as a customer; however, he has asked for another chance to “earn” their business.
Justin’s response shows the audience that he is actively trying to learn from his mistakes and is making changes in his business to address them.
It’s one thing to apologize, but it’s another thing to say that you’re acknowledging the issue and doing something about it. Showing the audience that you’re making improvements is crucial because it displays how much you care about customer service.
Justin Lena, A & J Fencing
If there is any way to earn your business in the future please let me know.
2. Failing to answer phone call complaints
John from Response Pest Control does a great job at keeping a level-head in this interaction. Instead of calling the writer out, he tries his best to explain where he went wrong and why it happened.
Although some folks might view this as John just making excuses, bear in mind that he owns his mistakes, and still takes full responsibility for the lack of communication. He is also trying his best to instill some empathy in this writer by explaining what it’s like to own a small business, so the audience can set some fair expectations when they try to contact him.
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3. Appointment no-shows
This review is a classic example of a small error that snowballed into a big deal for the business owner. It’s very challenging to keep your book of business in line if you’re relying on spreadsheets or pen and paper. Mistakes can be made when you don’t have trackable client history and notes attached to every account, like you would in a CRM.
However, Trimaine took a lot of time to write the reviewer back and apologize for the mistake, and he did an excellent job.
Although his response is a bit long, he made sure to respond with empathy, important details, an explanation, and a solution to offer the customer.
We love this review response because Trimaine is very professional with his word choice. He’s transparent about what happened because he wants to explain how the mistake happened (by the fault of his team). He wants to make sure that all the readers know the situation, and what his team did to rectify it so it won’t happen again. He also shows the audience that he’ll go above and beyond to get back in touch with the reviewer.
Finally, he publicly acknowledges how frustrating this mistake was, and offers compensation out of pocket–something that’s usually done in private with the client. He shows everyone that he’s not afraid to pay for mistakes if it means that his customers are happy.
This response was so professional and sincere that it led to the reviewer posting a 5-star follow-up review!
4. Owning up to pricing issues or misunderstandings one-on-one
Sometimes a situation might be too challenging to explain or solve over a Yelp review. In these cases, the best course of action is to take things out of the public eye. Although we aren’t sure what came of this situation, we can be sure that the business owner cares about customer service enough to offer a solution in private. They gave the reviewer a few different ways to get in touch offline.
This is important because it shows the audience that the business owner is willing to work with the client in the event of a dispute, instead of ignoring them or getting defensive in public.
Alberto, HVAC Service Heating & Air Conditioning
We are committed to providing the highest level of service and would like to hear more about your personal situation. Please email our Customer Relation Specialist at...
5. Re-negotiating with facts
We all know the infamous cliche…but the customer isn’t always right— and when they are wrong, it can bite you. For example, they might over exaggerate their claim, forget crucial details, or try and make a case against you if they’re not happy. The best thing that you can do is be transparent with them and the audience.
In this case, Austin politely called out the customer on some basic facts that don’t align with their claims. It doesn’t hurt to do this if you can be fair about it. It can reposition the negative review to look a bit unreasonable given what’s in plain sight (like vehicle branding and website information.) This business owner does a great job of explaining their side of the conversation without seeming accusatory or rude.
6. Answer positive reviews, too
Even if the review is great, it’s still good to follow-up. This helps you ensure that your customer knows you’ve heard their concerns and value their business. It also shows all the other readers that you personally care about the business and your customers satisfaction. That in and of itself can make someone decide to hire you over your competitors.
When your clients write you a solid review make sure to send them a follow-up email, or mark it down in your CRM client notes so you can offer them a small thank-you when you see them next.
Tami, Acclaimed! Heating, Cooling, & Furnace Cleaning
Thank you so much for taking the time to give us this feedback...Thank you so much for the business and we look forward to be of service to you in the future!
7. A client’s misunderstanding turns into a negative Yelp review
This client might have needed a refresher before they went to review Yarrow Landscaping. This is a very common mistake–especially when clients are a bit disgruntled. They might forget what they asked you to do, and it adds to their existing frustration (which might not have been your fault to begin with). However, Staci did a fantastic job responding to the client in this circumstance.
Her approach was to give the reviewer a gentle reminder about the context of the project. She also made it a point to reconnect with the client and make sure she did everything possible to ensure they were satisfied. The results paid off as the client updated their review.
Some of you might think that giving context to a negative review is the same as giving excuses— but it’s not. Sometimes it’s the only way to explain where the feedback is coming from.
This business owner did a great job of explaining the situation in a positive way that makes it seem like all decisions were made to “support” the customer however possible. This interaction resulted in an updated positive review after some offline interaction.
In the future, the best way to avoid this situation is to make sure that the client signs off on project changes during the quote approval process. Having written proof to back you up ensures everyone is on the same page.
8. Poor customer service that doesn’t reflect your business
If you haven’t had this experience yet, you know someone who has. A client complains about customer service that is well below the bar you hold your employees at.
In this circumstance, Chelsea apologizes for this reviewer’s bad experience and also reinforces that this is not what her business considers to be good service. She does a great job of empathizing with the disappointment.
The important thing about Chelsea’s response is that she does not try and justify or explain why the customer received unsatisfactory service. Instead she apologizes, and offers to take the conversation offline in order to do what she can to turn this unhappy customer into a happy one.
Chelsea, TruGreen Lawn Care
We are very disappointed to learn that our support team did not handle your case with the care and efficiency our customers deserve...
9. Dissatisfied customers can write lengthy, detailed bad reviews you need to clean up after
Once again, this business owner experiences a complaint that does not reflect their company values or service standards.
However, the difference between this response and the one above is brevity.
If you think that responding to a negative Yelp review needs to take a few hours to get things sorted, don’t be so sure. While a lengthy response is nice, sometimes a short, polite, and professional message is all you need to address a negative review.
The business owner wrote a short response back and did a nice job of explaining that they were not happy with the customer’s experience. They “sincerely apologized for anything less than an excellent experience,” and explained that the dissatisfied customer’s experience “is not the norm.”
The business owner was willing to do what it takes to get the customer happy offline. They explained that they emailed the client and wished to get in touch with them, and promised that they would “bend over backwards to make sure” the customer was satisfied.
The customer ended up re-writing their review and rounded up to 3.5 stars after one employee reached out to them. Friendly Maid House offered the customer a full refund, which was enough to convince the unhappy customer that this company has “impressive” customer service. They even admitted on Yelp that they would try this cleaning business again in the future!
10. Employee mistakes that tarnish your reputation
Ryan, the business owner, did a great job addressing an awful situation. While this has nothing to do with the business’ service, it has everything to do with its reputation. Ryan’s reaction was empathetic, respectful, and fair. He took responsibility for his team, even though their actions do not represent him or his company’s values.
This is very important to note. Your employees are the face of your company and everything that they do reflects back on you. To rectify this situation, Ryan publicly outlines the company values, what actions he is going to take with his team, and how he is willing to help the bystanders.
Readers care a lot about how a business owner reacts to employee behaviour. The fact that Ryan cares so much about the problem that he is going to take company-wide action speaks volumes.
Ryan, Excel Home Painting
As the business owner, I am embarrassed and horrified to hear this...We will attempt to determine which employee this was and take corrective action.
11. Questionable negative Yelp reviews
This reviewer posted with a random screen name, no photo, and didn’t give any insight into the type of work that was done. This situation happens occasionally when an aggravated customer doesn’t want to show their face online. However, sometimes it happens when a competitor is trying to get an unfair advantage over you.
It’s very common for business owners to respond with sly or rude remarks to the writer. Eric, however, did a great job responding to this comment.
He enforced his company values by letting the reviewer know that they want to resolve the situation. He also gently asked if they have the right business without brushing them off or being condescending. This was a good move on his part because it allows the audience to think critically about who the writer is on their own terms without Eric suggesting that they are in the wrong.
This could help the reader realize that the negative Yelp review was posted unfairly and disregard it.
John P., 1st Response Pest Control
I'm sorry we let you down by not responding promptly when you called. Please accept my sincerest apologies.
12. Negative reviews… that aren’t for your business?
With the sheer number of businesses out there, it is inevitable that you’ll receive a review that isn’t meant for you. That’s what happened above.
Denise did a great job of responding to this review. She reinforced her company’s customer service process and explained why it didn’t line up with the experience that the reviewer was describing. Instead of expressing her frustration with the mix-up, or correcting the writer, she was extremely professional and polite. Denise’s response was excellent because it communicated her company’s protocol and quoting process to the audience, which makes Peak Roofing Contractors look great online.
How NOT to answer negative Yelp reviews
The worst thing you can do when responding to a review is appear confrontational, accusatory, angry, or emotional — even if that is exactly how you feel.
You don’t want to start a fight with a customer in a public forum that could potentially tank your business, nor do you want to seem petty or unprofessional.
Here’s what NOT to do when crafting your response:
- Be defensive, sly, or backhanded
- Try to “prove a point”
- Try and make the writer look bad
- Invite a rebuttal
- Write a long response
- Point fingers
- Swear or use offensive language
Turn unhappy customers into your biggest fans on review websites
When writing your response to a negative Yelp review, be brief, apologize, and get to the point. Steer the customer towards having a conversation offline. You can then return to the original online conversation once the issue has been resolved, and thank them for their business and the chance to fix the problem.
Here are some key points to keep in mind:
- Respond quickly (within 24-hours)
- Personalize the message
- Be sincere in your apology
- Resolve the issue and offer a solution
- Thank the customer for their feedback
- Highlight company values
- Keep it as brief as possible while acknowledging the issue
- Sign off with your name
No one is looking for a perfect response or solution, they just want their concerns to be heard, understood, and addressed.
If you can do that on a public forum like Yelp, then you’ll make your negative reviewer happy, and you’ll show potential customers that you’re an honest and trustworthy business. Sometimes that’s enough to convince them to hire you when all is said and done.
See our post How to Respond to Negative Reviews (with Expert Examples) for more tips on responding to negative reviews.
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