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How to Turn a Negative Yelp Review Into a Positive for Your Restaurant Business

A negative review on Yelp is a real pain. You've poured your heart and soul into your restaurant business, and now a customer is wreaking havoc on your reputation.

In our social media-driven world, negative reviews can't always be prevented. But how you respond to negative reviews is under your control.

Here’s how you can make the best of a negative Yelp review and turn it into a positive teachable moment for you and your restaurant business.

Take the Opportunity to Learn

Take another look at the review. How bad is it? Does it reveal a problem you already know you have? Most negative reviews center around things you can control: slow service, cold food, bad food, or rude servers.

Is there a common theme across all the reviews? If so, your customers are telling you something! Use Yelp as your ultimate feedback tool and take steps to fix the most common complaints.

How to Respond

First of all, always respond. It looks bad if someone reads an older negative review with no response from the restaurant.

Never get angry in your response. Ever. Instead, follow these simple rules:

  • Respond calmly
  • Thank the reviewer for coming in (and leaving the review)
  • Apologize for their poor experience
  • Explain how you plan to address the issue
  • Promise that you’ll do better next time

Customers love personal attention, Yelp reviewers are no exception. They want to know you take their complaints seriously.

Take Charge of your Brand

Even if you’ve never visited Yelp, chances are pretty good your restaurant is already listed. If you’ve been ignoring it, the information might be out of date or just plain wrong.

Here’s how to fill out your restaurant’s Yelp Profile:

  • Identify yourself as the business owner
  • Make sure all information is correct and current
  • Ensure there’s a current menu online
  • Add details to make your restaurant easy to find
  • Have some great photos taken of your food and your venue
  • Include a picture of the front entrance

Get Creative with Yelp Responses & Make Your Restaurant Stand Out

One of the best Yelp responses on record was made by The Supper Truck in Albuquerque, N.M. The owner responded to a negative Yelp review in an endearingly lighthearted manner, by uploading into an “I’m sorry” song to Youtube.

A clever video has the potential to go viral, bringing positive attention to a business like this food truck, which has many glowing reviews .

What Not to Do

It’s tempting to ask friends and family to leave positive reviews for your restaurant, but that’s not a great idea. Instead, focus on responding positively to customers who leave comments and make sure your customer service, and food, is great all the time.

Your approach to Yelp should be consistent with your other social media efforts. It’s a mistake when restaurants ignore their profiles on sites like Foursquare, TripAdvisor, and Urban Spoon.

Social media review sites can be effective tools as long as you are influencing your own brand, making sure the majority of the information online is correct, appealing, and positive.

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