Online Reviews Management: How to Respond to Yelp Reviews

People rely on reviews and testimonials more today than ever before. Whether hunting for a doctor or narrowing a list of potential healthcare providers, we all want to make sure that we are making the best, most informed decisions. In healthcare, this increased attention to reviews can be both a blessing and a curse.

On the one hand, these reviews offer useful feedback that providers can use to improve their operations, as well as potential promotional material from positive online reviews. On the other hand, negative reviews can become liabilities for a hospital, and it can be difficult to respond to these critiques appropriately. Ultimately, healthcare organizations want to manage their brand reputation by increasing online reviews and finding solutions for responding to as many reviews as possible.

The Right Way to Generate More Reviews

There are plenty of ways to generate more reviews, but one must be mindful of a review site’s terms of service.

Google, which hosts the majority of sought out reviews, has recently changed some parts of their guidelines regarding review solicitation and prohibition. But every review site is different, and some are only relevant to healthcare specifically.

By knowing the ins and outs of these sites’ terms, organizations can find the most effective ways of generating and responding to online reviews.

An increasing amount of today’s consumers take to the Internet to research businesses and products before deciding how to spend their money. They read reviews on sites like Amazon, look for recommendations from their friends on social media, and in the case of local businesses, they read the advice of others on Yelp.

This means that if you’re a local business owner, your customers are already talking about you on the site. And although shining reviews are a great way to build a reputation online, negative ones can keep potential customers from even giving you a chance.

Thankfully, a quick and appropriate response can show Yelp users that your business is worth visiting. And with the following five steps, you’ll be well on your way to creating a stronger Yelp reputation.

1. Claim your business page

If you haven’t used Yelp yet, the first step to responding to reviews is claiming your business page. All you need to do is search for it on biz.yelp.com and click “Claim this Business.”

If your business isn’t available to be claimed, you can find more detailed instructions on Yelp’s support website.

Even if no one has left any reviews on your page yet, it’s best to set up as soon as possible. This gives you the control to update the page with your correct phone number and address, add photos, and respond to reviews as quickly as possible in the future.

2. Really read the review

If you’re already halfway through typing out an angry response to an unfair criticism of your business, stop. Calm down. And put away your keyboard.

Take some time to really read the review, and consider it from the writer’s perspective. Are their complaints valid? If you weren’t present when they visited your business, could your employees have acted less than professionally?

If someone leaves a negative review, they had a negative experience with your business. And as much as you may not want to think it, you need to consider whether you or your employees made a mistake.

Either way, you have an important decision to make.

3. Choose how to respond

Once you’ve taken the time to understand the customer’s complaint, you need to decide whether to respond publicly or privately.

– Privately

Although it may be tempting to immediately correct an unfair comment publicly, doing so can sometimes make things worse. You might think you’re pointing out why their criticisms are wrong, but really, you’re just showing other visitors to your page that you’re unwilling to listen to customer concerns.

Instead, start by sending the reviewer a private message addressing the issues they had with your business. Users always have the option to revise reviews, and if you show them that you appreciate their comments, they could revise their review and improve your rating – along with your reputation.

Give them a day or two to respond. And if they don’t, it’s time to move to your next option.

– Publicly

If a reviewer ignores your message or responds in a way that indicates that they have no intention of being reasonable, it’s appropriate to leave a public response. This will show other Yelp users -that you care about your reputation and take steps to address customer issues, even if it’s as simple as encouraging them to contact you with any issues.

Keep these other users in mind as you write, and maintain a professional but caring tone. And although it should go without saying, never be rude or mean to your customers, even if they insulted your business.

4. Provide a solution

In the majority of reviews, customers point out a specific problem or problems. That problem could be a bad experience at your restaurant, a poor product from your company, or sub-par customer service from one of your employees. Regardless of what that problem is, you need to provide the solution.

In some cases, you can offer to make up for their poor experience by inviting them back with a discount or refund. In others, you may need to ask for more details (like the name of your employee or the day of their visit) to determine the appropriate action.

Regardless of whether you do this publicly or privately, there needs to be more than an apology in your response. Sure, a customer might appreciate your willingness to admit a mistake – but that won’t give them any confidence that it won’t happen again.

5. Focus on building a positive reputation

Now that you’ve addressed issues on your Yelp page, it’s time to think about how you’ll handle the site going forward. And although providing timely responses is an important step, you should also do what you can to build a positive reputation.

Of course, it’s essential that you provide great products and services to your customers. After all, this is the basis of what they review. But unfortunately, many users don’t think to leave Yelp reviews unless they’ve had a negative experience.

Encourage happy customers to leave reviews by placing flyers or stickers around your store and linking to your business page from your website and social media accounts. As you do this, though, remember that it’s never a good idea to try to incentivize reviews. (Check out for a more detailed explanation. Trust me on this – it will only end up harming your reputation.)

As you begin to accumulate reviews, you may fall into the same habit as many other business owners: Focusing on and responding to only the negative reviews. But as someone who relies on happy customers for success, letting them know that you appreciate their feedback and are glad that they had a positive experience can go a long way.

Yelp matters for local businesses — here’s how to make the most of the platform

Like we mentioned, it’s nearly impossible to control the kinds of reviews you get on a platform like Yelp. Even if you provide the world’s most perfect experience, you will always have people that are unsatisfied.

However, there are a few ways to make the most out of the platform for your local business.

Entice good reviews

As a local business, it’s important to entice good Yelp reviews so that others will be inclined to visit. But how do you do so?

  1. Keep business cards at your register. Satisfied patrons can’t leave Yelp reviews for your local business if they don’t know you’re on Yelp! Try keeping Yelp business cards at your register that say something like “Review us on Yelp!”. This will let customers know that you have an online presence and that it’s important to them that you provide a review.
  2. Post your star rating around your local business. If you’re proud of your star rating, Yelp can send you stickers denoting that you’re well-liked on Yelp! You can put these stickers on registers, doors, and windows to let customers know that you’re highly-rated among customers.
  3. Talk with your customers during every transaction. The more shoppers feel tended to and taken care of, the more likely they’ll be to write a great review. Treat them with the utmost respect, use manners, and ask how they liked their experience. If they enjoyed their visit to your local business, be sure to ask them to write a review on Yelp!

Respond to bad reviews

Bad reviews are a part of having a local business, and although they can sting, you can use them as an opportunity to show how much you care.

Here are some tips for when you receive bad reviews on Yelp:

  1. Always respond to negative reviews. One of the golden rules of being a local business owner is that you should always respond to negative Yelp reviews. If you don’t, you’ll appear as though you don’t want to deal with negativity surrounding your business. It can also come off as though you’re not willing to make up for someone’s bad experience with your business.

    This can be hard to do, especially when the patron is inconsiderate or overbearing, but it’s important that you always keep your cool. If a situation is being magnified or wrongly recalled, simply ask the customer to give you a call and provide your contact information.

    This shows potential customers that you are willing to listen to your customers and shows the dissatisfied customer that you’re willing to make things right.

  2. “The customer is always right.” Another golden rule of business? The customer is always right. You should never argue with a customer in a review — it will only deter potential customers.

    Nobody wants to give business to an argumentative manager, so don’t be that person!

Reach more customers online

When you partner with us, we’ll help you earn visibility for the keywords your target audience is searching, and earn more customers for your local business.

Does your local business need help managing your Yelp account?

It’s no secret that Yelp matters for local businesses, but if you need help managing your Yelp account, 5StarWebReviews is here for you. We’ve answered your burning Yelp questions on this page like, “does yelp matter for local businesses?”, and “are Yelp reviews reliable?”, and if you’re ready to amp up your Yelp efforts thanks to the answers, we’re ready to help.

We’re a full-service digital marketing agency that provides services to local businesses and enterprise companies alike.

We provide review management services that can help you take care of bad Yelp reviews, and we can coach you on the best ways to entice satisfied customers to leave positive reviews.

If you’re interested in learning more about what WebFX can do for your local business, be sure to contact us online

How does your business look on Yelp?

If you’re a local business, your customers are already talking about you on review sites like Yelp. So what are they saying? Claim your page, take a look, and start taking steps to improve your online reputation today!

Companies that have been pursuing rather traditional (non-digital) business models are beginning to act and shape their customer relationships in similar manners. Talking to multiple clients and industry professionals, we see a significant desire to leverage the voice of the customer in not only improving instantaneous customer service, but also in the long-term development of products and service offerings. Listening to our own customers, we have heard loud and clear that there is a need for a comprehensive playbook of best practices, which firms can leverage to improve customer feedback management. Like any good author talking on a late night show about their new book, we have selected some highlights to share. For more information on the playbook of customer feedback management and the learnings from industry best practices, feel free to contact us at KBI Marketing.

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