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How to Recover from a Negative Yelp Review

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It happens to the best of us - a negative Yelp review. While it’s never fun, it’s an opportunity to learn, save face, and make a customer happy.

Chances are, people looking to find great local businesses check Yelp. There, they can find reviews from previous customers rating how well that business operates. So, it’s a great place to be seen if you’re trying to get the word out about your own business. But what if a potential customer finds a negative Yelp review about you? Don’t panic – it happens to the best. It could be an opportunity to learn and make a customer happy. Here are some tips to help you recover from a negative review and put your best face forward.

Read the Review Again

There’s shock value in receiving a negative review. It understandably raises your defenses and may cause you to miss an important detail that could help you resolve the issue. So, read it again.

Look for key facts: When/where did it happen? What exactly happened? What did the customer want? What did they get? What does the customer want to happen now? Are the comments light-hearted or angry?  Look for other reviews about similar situations, and talk to your staff to learn their side of the details.

Consider the Source

While you need to listen to all customer feedback, you don’t need to respond to each one in the same way. Research the reviewer to learn more about them. How often does the individual leave negative reviews? Someone who consistently leaves a bad review may not be taken as seriously as someone who generally posts positive ones. In that case, an “appreciate the feedback” note may be enough.

Look to see how many followers the reviewer has. A reviewer with a large following will have a greater influence. You’ll want to seriously consider their feedback and take action. If handled appropriately, it may be a chance to redeem your business in front of a large audience.

Start with Sorry

Responding to a negative review shows the reviewer (and their followers) you care about what customers think. Start with saying “sorry,” “excuse us,” “we feel bad,” “forgive us,” or a similar sentiment. This is appropriate even if the review is not valid. For example, “sorry you had a bad experience.” The point is to acknowledge their feelings. If the review is a real scorcher, take the discussion offline and direct message the reviewer.

Next, provide a short explanation and say how you’re going to fix it. If the review has no merit, an explanation may be enough. Take a look at these sample responses from red balloon.

For some businesses, the “fix” also includes a discount on the next purchase, a gift certificate, or similar exchange. It’s an incentive for the customer to try your business again. However, do this offline so you avoid creating an expectation that all negative reviewers will get a gift.

It’s important to remember you’re not just responding to the reviewer – your followers, their followers, and other Yelp users all will see it. Yelp estimates that includes 90 percent of their users who read reviews without engaging in the conversation. They’re the ones who may not have tried your business yet, so be sure you leave a positive impression.

Negative reviews aren’t always easy to take, but don’t miss the opportunity they provide to reposition your business, not just for the reviewer but for all the other Yelp users watching the exchange.

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