How to Handle Bad Yelp Reviews


Online review sites are emerging, where everyone is willing to share their opinion from rants to useful tips. And these opinions can make or break a company. In fact, people are more likely to share a negative review than a positive one (source: Nielsen) and more likely to take to social media these days with their dissatisfaction. So what should you do if you get a bad review on a place like Yelp, which gets over one hundred million unique visitors a month to find the best places and services?

How to handle bad Yelp reviews

Yelp allows businesses to claim their page and to respond to reviews, both positive and negative. You should respond to all. If people took the time to write up a review on Yelp, you should take the time to thank them.

But when you receive bad Yelp reviews, they need to be handled a bit differently.


  1. Acknowledge them and avoid excuses. Develop a dialogue. Whether you think the claim is false or not, you should publicly acknowledge them and avoid any type of excuse because people don’t want to hear that you have an excuse for bad service or a poor product.
  2. Take it off-line. Although places like Yelp don’t allow you to delete negative reviews unless they have profanity, try to resolve the issue and if possible ask them to call or email you so you can personally take care of their problem. That way you get to speak to the person and hopefully are able to get them to change their review.
  3. Offer to compensate or help them. Offering a discount, money back, a free x next time they come in, or a hard-to-get reservation is always a sure fire way to get them to change their mind and give you a second chance.
  4. Put it on a sign or a t-shirt. Embrace Yelp because it’s not going away anytime soon. One NYC pizza place, Joe Dough, is infamous for putting his Yelp reviews on a sign outside of his establishment. From “Come in and try the worst meatball sandwich that one guy on Yelp ever had in his life,” to “Yuck Felp.”

According to an article in Atlantic Wire, businesses that are pretty aggressive about soliciting almost always have a lot of reviews filtered.  So, try to engage with your customers and hopefully some of those negative reviews will turn around.

For more tips on responding to reviews, watch this 90 second video:

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About Tracy Sestili

Tracy Sestili is CEO and Chief blogger at Social Strand Media. She is also the author of Taking Your Brand from the Bench to the Playing Field -- Social Media Fundamentals for Business.