This article was originally published on the Spectrum blog. 

A bad Yelp review is like a hard punch in the gut. Only the pain doesn't go away. It lingers horribly in the pit of your stomach while your face illustrates the agony you're going through.

Everyone can see it.

Receiving a bad review on Yelp is extremely frustrating for a small business owner. Besides the fact that it feels like a personal attack, a crumby review is public and effectively permanent. What's worse is that you don't even have to sign up for the service to be reviewed. Virtually anyone with an opinion and an Internet connection can negatively critique your service, your product, your business on Yelp.

Of course, people can also say nice, pleasant things about your shop -- but this article isn't about that. It's about how to respond to poor reviews and turn a bad thing into a good thing.

Believe me, it's possible.

Just keep these principles in mind as you yelp back:


As a business owner, it's important to make your voice heard in the midst of negative publicity. However, if your voice is just as acidic as your reviewer's, you'll want to hold off.

Don't respond to a negative comment about your business in the heat of the moment. If you emotionally respond with a sarcastic, condescending or disingenuous remark, you'll only make the situation worse. And two wrongs really don't make a right.

It's always best to respond to a bad review after you've had some time to think about the comment and formulate an intelligent, tactful and solution-oriented response. Anything less will most likely reflect poorly on your business.


Simple and polite, just like your mama taught you.

Always remember that potential customers will be judging both your customers' reviews and your responses. If you come off rude on Yelp, people will instinctively think you're rude in real life.


People like to feel as though they've made a difference. Often times, even the most seemingly altruistic acts are driven by our desire to feel better about ourselves and our role in the world.

Use this to your advantage.

After you thank a negative reviewer for their feedback (pretending its Joe Pesci helps), offer some additional information. Explain what changes you plan on implementing to fix the issue(s) they complained about. People will appreciate your honesty and initiative. They'll also feel good about the fact that their voice made a positive difference. Who knows, they may even come back to experience the changes first hand. If they do, you can feel good knowing that your calm, level-headed reaction was what prompted their return in the first place.

So remember: be positive and optimistic when responding to bad reviews. Offer solutions. Give thanks and don't forget to apologize for any inconvenience. Putting the customer first is what being a good business owner is about. Not to mention that a public forum like Yelp gives new meaning to the mantra the customer is always right. Respect this fact and, in return, customers will respect you -- bad reviews and all