How to Respond to Yelp Reviews: COMPLETE GUIDE + Templates

Need to know how to respond to Yelp reviews, positive or negative? We’ll make it as simple as possible with FREE information, templates and more.

The two most common Yelp reviews you’ll get are those from your biggest fans and those from your biggest critics.

Yelp Review Management

Yelp is one of the most powerful review platforms there is because it’s one of the most trusted. For that reason, you want to have a plan in place before the Yelp reviews start coming in. That way, you’ll know they’re being taken care of and how responses are being crafted to build the best impression of your brand and business.

Who should respond to Yelp reviews of small businesses or startups?

For small businesses or startups, it’s typically best to have the owner, founder or CEO respond to Yelp reviews. As the individual who best knows and understands the business, the owner will have the strongest handle on the brand voice and all the moving parts. Having the owner respond to Yelp reviews also shows that your small business or startup deeply cares about the customer experience.

As the business grows and the owner’s availability becomes more limited, it’ll be important for a process to be established so another individual can take over responding to Yelp reviews.

Who should respond to Yelp reviews of medium or large companies?

The danger larger businesses face with review responses is that everyone can think someone else is taking care of it. You want to select a team or individual to directly take care of responses so your customers are being taken care of.

If your business is larger with several departments, there are several options when selecting someone to respond to Yelp reviews:

  • Direct them to your marketing team. Chances are, your marketing team is already aware of Yelp review response best practices. Simply make sure they know they are supposed to be taking care of them and have a written process in place all responders can follow.
  • Direct them to your customer service team. Your customer service team has made a living out of handling happy and unhappy customers alike, and they’ll be a great resource for responding to Yelp reviews.
  • Have a third-party agency handle them. If your business is large enough to be receiving several hundred reviews a week, it may be in your business’ best interest to have an agency work on responses so your customers are responded to in a timely manner.

How to create a Yelp review response system

When you have a process in place for responding to Yelp reviews, you set yourself up for success. It helps your team members know what to say when faced with difficult feedback and ensures your customers are heard.

Here’s how you can create an effective Yelp review response system for your business, small or large:

Create a style guide.

Once you’ve determined who is going to respond to Yelp reviews, create a style guide, or use the one you have to lay the foundation for your Yelp review response voice.

Make an FAQ or Fact Sheet.

Establish an initial list of FAQs or a fact sheet about your products that the responder can use to aid in crafting responses. When the Yelp responder encounters other frequent information he or she needs, that can be added to the FAQ or fact sheet over time.

Avoid copy-and-paste templated responses.

No, we didn’t make a mistake. Templated responses are great as examples, but your Yelpers will notice if the same response is pasted to every single review. That makes your business seem robotic and inauthentic.

Instead of copy-and-paste templates, give your responders direction by developing response guidelines like these, which are geared toward negative reviews:

  1. Thank the customer for their honest feedback, stating you appreciate the opportunity to improve.
  2. Apologize to the customer for the inconvenience this caused them.
  3. Let them know how you’re going to make it right (pass the feedback along to the production team, offer them something for their trouble, etc.)
  4. Take the conversation offline by including an email address and phone number they can contact with any further concerns.

Determine when it’s appropriate to use the Direct Message feature.

Yelp has two review response methods: Public Comment and Direct Message. It is always a good idea to respond with a Public Comment, which anyone on Yelp can see, but there also may be instances when it’s valuable to directly respond to a customer in a way that works more like communicating over email.

This could be the case when there is negative feedback related specifically to product quality, or when you want to offer a customer something – like a refund, discount or free item – in an effort to win back trust. You can either have the determined responder reach out to the dissatisfied customer through a Direct Message, or have the responder notify the owner in more difficult situations.

We should note that Yelp discourages the use of the Direct Message to convince an unhappy customer to take down his or her review.

Have the responder pass the feedback on.

Did Darla in customer service get a positive shout-out? Did Thomas recommend a product improvement? If the review mentions something specific, that should get to its appropriate individual or department.

Negative Yelp Reviews

Most business owners are concerned about negative Yelp reviews, with good reason. You can turn a negative Yelp review into an opportunity with a good response to it. In fact, 89 percent of consumers look at review responses from businesses when making decisions about where to go.

Why you should respond to negative Yelp reviews

Even though it might hurt to hear, this dissatisfied customer just handed you an opportunity for growth on a silver platter. Potential customers read reviews and they pay attention to how businesses respond. You have a chance to show off those brand values, establish how much you care, and what you’re going to do to make it better.

Furthermore, Yelp encourages businesses to respond. They’ve done research to show how businesses have grown significantly just by crafting responses to negative (and positive) Yelp reviews.

How to respond to negative Yelp reviews [Template]

There are two different ways you can respond to a customer’s negative Yelp review: by Public Comment and through a Direct Message. Before you can, there are a few things your business’ Yelp profile needs:

  1. An approved profile photo. This photo must be of a person – we recommend a photo of the owner – and it must be a clear image. Avoid a group or stock photo, which will be rejected by Yelp. Here are detailed instructions on how to upload a Yelp profile photo.
  2. An approved business account name. This can be confusing, as the name of your business or company will be rejected. You must use the first and last name, or last initial, of a business representative. Again, we recommend using that of the owner’s. Here are detailed instructions on how to change or add the business account name.

Once you have everything approved by Yelp, you can begin responding to negative Yelp reviews by posting a Public Comment and, when appropriate, sending a Direct Message.

How to post a Public Comment on Yelp

No matter what the review says, you should always respond first publicly. Here’s how to respond to Yelp reviews by posting a Public Comment:

1. Select “Reviews” from the left-hand sidebar on your business’ page:

2. Locate the review you want to respond to and select “Add Public Comment” under the review.
3. Enter your response and select “Preview.”
4. Review for grammatical errors, then select “Post Comment.”

How to respond to a customer via Direct Message

When a customer leaves a negative Yelp review, after posting a Public Comment, it may be appropriate to reach out for more information or to make things right by messaging them directly. Here’s how to respond to Yelp reviews by sending a Direct Message:

  1. Select “Reviews” from the left-hand sidebar on your business’ page:

2. Locate the review you want to respond directly to and select “Send Direct Message” under it.
3. Enter your direct response and select “Send.”

Negative Yelp review response template

You should always craft a custom response for each customer – never copy-and-paste the same response over and over. That will make your business seem robotic and inauthentic. However, you can use this sample and other industry-specific review response templates as a basic response you can tweak to meet your needs:

“Hi [Customer Name], thanks so much for your candid review of our business. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience you experienced. As a result of your feedback, we scheduled a meeting with the involved parties to review process and prevent this from happening in the future. We’re sending you a direct message to let you know how we’d like to make this right with you, and if you have any other concerns, feel free to contact us as [Phone Number] or [Email Address]. Thanks again!”

How to respond to Yelp reviews without knowing the order number

If a customer mentions a specific product but not their order number in their negative Yelp review, you can respond publicly and use the directions listed above to send a Direct Message asking for it. That way, other readers see you’ve responded, and you can help the customer more specifically later on.

Why you should respond to fake Yelp reviews

Fake reviews are reviews left by people who did not have an experience with your business. They can be spam, they can be left by competitors, or just by people discussing something unrelated to your business, like political rants.

It’s important to flag reviews of this nature by following these directions on how to remove a Yelp review. Once you’ve done that, you should respond to these reviews because it can take a while for Yelp to pull a fake review.

How to respond to a fake Yelp review [Template]

When responding to a fake review, it’s important to maintain a polite tone, while making it clear to other readers that it’s not an accurate Yelp review of your business. Here are a couple templates you can tweak and use to respond to fake Yelp reviews:

“Hi [Customer Name], we think you may have the wrong business! We have specific policies in place to prevent situations like this from happening. We’d like to clear up any confusion and assist you in any way we can. Please contact us at [Phone Number] or [Email Address] so we can help you. Thanks, and we hope you have a great day!”

“Hi [Customer Name], while we understand you may be upset, we think there’s some confusion about your mentioned experience! Because it doesn’t relate specifically to our business, we’re unable to help you in the way you’d like! You can always contact us at [Phone Number] or [Email Address] if we can answer any questions you might have about our location. Thanks, have a great day!”

Positive Yelp Reviews

While there isn’t any anxiety for most business owners when it comes to positive reviews, there are a few best practices you should follow when they’re left on your Yelp business page.

Why you should respond to positive Yelp reviews

Celebrate those wins and thank your biggest fans for their business and praise! Responding to positive Yelp reviews shows people you care – and it can help increase business and the number of positive reviews you get.

How to respond to positive Yelp reviews [Template]

Responding to positive reviews is much easier, as you don’t have to address a specific situation. Instead, you get to thank the customers who keep you in business – this part should be fun!

Here’s a simple template to get your positive Yelp review response ideas going:

“Hi [Customer Name], thanks so much for the wonderful feedback! It’s customers like you that keep us going every day. Your business means so much to us, and we look forward to seeing you again soon!”

For specific instructions on how to respond publicly to a Yelp review, jump to our negative review response section.

How to get more positive Yelp reviews

You always want to ask your happiest, most satisfied customers to review you online. Any negative feedback should be directed internally so you can make improvements to your processes and products.

Here are a few steps you can take to get more positive Yelp reviews of your business:

  1. Pre-screen your customers, ensuring the positive feedback turns into public raving reviews, while negative feedback is just between your business and your dissatisfied customer.
  2. Follow-up with customers who didn’t respond initially. Doing so can usually double the amount of feedback you get!
  3. Regularly send requests for reviews. Doing so at least weekly – if not daily – increases the chance that customers will remember their experience and review you.
  4. Automate the process so your time can be better spent on vision-casting for the future of your business.
  5. Follow all these best practices by signing up for our free trial, which makes it simple for your business to get more 5-star reviews.

If you want even more in-depth information, learn how to get Yelp reviews that don’t get filtered by its airtight fake review detection algorithm.

Removing Yelp Reviews

Removing Yelp reviews is a tricky business. While Yelp is very particular and pretty good at filtering out fake reviews, there are occasionally some that make it through. You can remove some, but not all negative reviews, if they violate Yelp’s policies.

Can you remove a negative Yelp review?

You can’t remove a Yelp review just because it’s negative, but there are some circumstances where Yelp will pull a review if you report it.

For Yelp to remove a review, it has to violate Yelp’s policies. Yelp does not allow reviews that contain:

  • Spam
  • Threats, harassment, hate speech or bigotry
  • Sexually explicit content
  • Conflicts of interest
  • Violations of privacy
  • Payment demands
  • Irrelevance to the business being reviewed
  • Promotional content within reviews

If you think a review of your business is eligible for removal, learn how to remove a Yelp review.

Can a business sue for a negative Yelp review?

Your business technically can sue for any negative review, but unless it falls within specific parameters, you likely won’t win.

Most reviews in the United States are protected under the First Amendment: freedom of speech. However, if a reviewer made a detrimental, false claim about your business that cost you financially, you may be able to sue on the grounds of defamation. The difference here is that freedom of speech protects the right to expressing one’s opinion, but not making a false factual claim.

For business located internationally, different laws and definitions are wrapped around the term “defamation.” Its definition is stricter in Australia, while in Canada, anything stated as a fact is something a reviewer can be called to backup with evidence.

Disclaimer: We are not lawyers. If your business is considering filing a lawsuit, we recommend consulting a legal professional before making a decision.