Yelp is a force of nature. Over 17% of all reviews on the app go to the Restaurant category (making it 2nd place under Shopping). These reviews are a significant influence on customers, with 84% of consumers relying on them to make a decision.

All that pressure can sometimes lead business owners to respond poorly to negative reviews. This usually backfires in the worst of ways, resulting in bad publicity and even restaurant closures.

But the savvy entrepreneur doesn’t see Yelp as a hindrance. They see it as an opportunity. It’s a place where they can get honest customer feedback, engage with them and even turn dissatisfied customers around. All you need to do is know the best ways you can manage Yelp and its reviews. 

Claim your business

You’re going to be on Yelp whether you like it or not, so you may as well step up and take the reins yourself. Don’t let strangers write your Yelp profile for you.

Claiming the business will give you greater control over the page, which includes setting the menu, uploading photos, and vital business information. You can even add more flourish to your business page by adding chef bios, specialties, promotions, and more.

Most important, a claimed business will be able to respond to reviews both publicly and privately, as well as reply to messages.

So if you haven’t already done it, go claim your business now. I’ll wait.

Respond quickly

Back so soon? Great! You’re in the right mindset, then. Customers appreciate that kind of quick action. According to Yelp’s own data, businesses that respond quickly to customers have a 33% higher chance of getting the customer to increase the star rating on their review.

Even just a simple acknowledgement of the customer’s difficulty and a sympathetic comment does wonders to improve a customer’s mood. 

But responding quickly only works if you respond properly.

Thank, acknowledge, and listen

You can still recover from even the vilest, most negative review of your restaurant by keeping a cool head and treating the reviewer with respect.
The whole reason a customer writes reviews in the first place is because they feel that someone should hear their opinion. So be that someone for them.

Yelp gives business owners the option to respond either publicly or privately. It’s up to you to decide which is appropriate. No matter which you pick, though, you still have to treat the other person with respect.

Acknowledge their complaint and address any concerns that they have. If it’s something you can actually fix, offer to do it for them and to compensate them for their poor experience.

Keep your distance

These days it’s quite easy to track down a person using their social media account or the info they leave on a Yelp review, but you absolutely must not engage with them outside of Yelp unless they engage with you first.

Approaching a customer outside of Yelp–especially in person–opens you up for other complaints. They customer may even call the police or sue you for breaching privacy.

In conclusion

Managing Yelp reviews is just like managing diners in your restaurant. Most will have a good experience or will have a problem that you can fix–provided you approach the matter professionally and are attentive to the other person’s emotions and needs.

Only a few really rare and really bad reviews won’t respond to you. Don’t sweat it. Do what you can to address it, and then move on to pleasing your other customers.