October 25, 2023

How to Respond to Yelp Reviews: Best Practices for Businesses

With over 80 million monthly visitors, Yelp is one of the most influential and important review sites for both large and small businesses alike. In fact, research shows that Yelp is the second most popular review site after Google. That’s why it’s critical for business owners to understand how to respond to Yelp reviews professionally and effectively. 

This guide will teach you the basics of responding to positive and negative Yelp reviews on your business account, including: 

  • Strategies for responding to positive reviews  
  • Tips for dealing with negative Yelp reviews 
  • Examples and screenshots of real business owners’ replies to Yelp users
  • Ways in which businesses can make responding to reviews faster and easier 
  • Frequently asked questions about responding to reviews on Yelp 

How to respond to Yelp reviews

Whether they’re thanking you for a fantastic experience, or complaining about less-than-stellar customer service, you need to respond to all of your customer reviews – positive or negative. 

It’s especially crucial to respond to Yelp reviews, considering the growing size and popularity of the platform. In 2020, for instance, 32% of consumers reported using Yelp to help them “evaluate local businesses in the last 12 months” – but by 2022, that percentage rocketed to 48%, according to research by BrightLocal. 

This guide will walk you through the steps for responding to online reviews on Yelp, showing you how to create professional-sounding replies that: 

  • Promote brand loyalty and customer retention
  • Help you attract and convert potential customers 
  • Reinforce a strong brand image and good online reputation 

Please note that the tips in this guide are focused on helping you write better, more effective replies to reviews posted on Yelp. If you’re looking for details on how to publish responses, we suggest heading over to Yelp Support, which provides step-by-step technical instructions for platform users (pictured below): 

how to respond to yelp reviews yelp support

Tips for responding to all Yelp reviews 

The following tips will help you write better replies to every review on your Yelp page, regardless of whether they’re five star reviews or one one star reviews without comments. You can reply via public comment or direct message, but it’s typically best to reply publicly so that other customers can see how your business handles feedback. 

  1. Respond in a timely manner. Experts recommend replying to online reviews in 24 hours or less. Using a review management platform enables you to receive alerts and notifications whenever your customers leave Yelp reviews (or feedback on other review sites), ensuring that all of your business’ comments and ratings receive timely replies. 
  1. Respond to every single review and rating. Some businesses make the mistake of only replying to positive reviews or negative reviews. However, research shows that responding to every single review – including but not limited to the negative ones – increases the likelihood of other Yelp users choosing your business. 
  1. Personalize each of your responses. In 2023, consumers expect brands to deliver a personalized experience. It’s important to customize each reply, even if you’re responding to just a rating with no comment. You can personalize replies by using the reviewer’s name, repeating details from the review, and shuffling up the language and sentence structure you use. 
  1. Thank the reviewer for their time. Whenever you’re replying to online reviews, thank your customers for providing your business with their feedback. 

Tips for responding to positive Yelp reviews

Some businesses rush to reply to negative reviews while overlooking reviews from happy customers. It’s important to make customers feel heard and appreciated to earn their repeat business. Here are four tips to help you start responding to good reviews successfully. 

  1. Greet the reviewer by name. When your small business is responding to reviews, always greet the reviewer using the name they’ve provided. There are two exceptions to this rule: you should omit the name if the user is anonymous, or if they’re using a username that contains obscene or explicit language. 
  1. Thank the customer for their feedback. The best way to turn a regular customer into a loyal superfan is to acknowledge them for taking the time to provide your business with feedback and support. For instance, you can say, “We appreciate your kind words, [Reviewer Name]!” or, “Thank you so much for sharing your comments and supporting our business!” 
  1. Highlight a detail from the positive review. This is a great opportunity to call out positive points about your brand – for example, “We’re thrilled to hear that [Staff Member] went above and beyond to make sure your family had an incredible dining experience at [Restaurant Name]!” 
  1. Encourage the customer to return again. There are countless ways to encourage happy customers to come back or contact you again – for instance, “We look forward to serving you again soon, [Reviewer Name]!” or, “It would be our pleasure to welcome you back to [Business Name] any time!” 

Tips for responding to negative Yelp reviews

A negative Yelp review can sting, but it’s essential to respond publicly in a professional and courteous manner – not try to ignore or hide the comment. 

Responding to negative Yelp reviews sends a signal to every potential customer that they can count on your team for support, transparency, and great customer service. 

Here are five tips to help you deal with negative Yelp reviews productively and use them to your brand’s advantage. 

  1. Apologize and acknowledge the feedback. Do not argue with the reviewer or become defensive, even if you disagree with the feedback being provided. Simply apologize for the disappointing customer experience, empathize with the reviewer, and thank them for their comment. 
  1. Assure the reviewer that you are working on solving the problem. For example, you can say that you are using their feedback to implement a solution, or that your team has been made aware of the issue. 
  1. Highlight the positive aspects of your business. For example, you can say something like, “We’re sorry that you didn’t receive the outstanding customer service that our team prides itself on providing here at [Business Name].” 
  1. Make an offer. You may wish to offer a coupon, discount, or similar compensation for a negative customer experience. However, you should avoid offering any compensation in exchange for a positive rating, since there could be negative consequences for your business.  
  1. Drive the conversation offline. Instead of discussing the situation in public comments like Yelp reviews, try to move the conversation offline and resolve it privately. You can accomplish this by encouraging the reviewer to contact your team, ideally accompanied by contact information. 

5 examples of good Yelp review responses

Now that you’ve learned about some best practices for responding to positive and negative reviews on Yelp, the next step is putting them into action. 

To get you moving in the right direction, we’ve put together five examples of real business owners’ responses to good and bad reviews, including: 

  • Retirement home reviews 
  • Auto dealership reviews 
  • Fast food chain reviews 
  • Cafe and restaurant reviews 

Each example includes a screenshot of the original customer review, plus a breakdown explaining what details or elements make the owner’s response effective. 

By incorporating the same elements into your own responses, you can improve the quality of your replies to customer reviews and ratings – not just on Yelp, but all review sites and platforms. 

Example #1: Positive review

Let’s start with a positive Yelp review of a senior living community located in California. The customer’s comment includes a 5-star rating, along with positive feedback about the business. 

how to respond to yelp review example

how to respond to yelp review example 2

Type of business: Retirement home 

Customer rating: 5 stars

Why this review response is effective: 

  • It uses the reviewer’s name.
  • It thanks the commenter for their positive review of the business.
  • The reply calls attention to the “positive experience” that the business was able to provide.
  • It maintains professionalism while using a cheerful, upbeat tone that mirrors the original review. A detail as simple as using an exclamation point in place of a period can make your response sound friendlier and more engaged. 

Example #2: Negative review 

This customer was extremely dissatisfied with their experience at a local car dealership – but even though their feedback was negative, the company provided a professional and positive response. Here’s how the business owner handled the unhappy customer’s negative review

how to respond to yelp review example three
how to respond to yelp review example four

Type of business: Car dealership 

Customer rating: 1 star

Why this Yelp review response is effective: 

  • It uses the customer’s name.
  • It expresses gratitude for the reviewer’s feedback. 
  • It offers a sincere apology for the customer’s negative experience.
  • The response references one of the company’s positive attributes (“high standard of service”). 
  • The business expresses its commitment to finding a solution (“we’ll do everything in our power to set things right”).
  • The response drives the conversation offline, away from a public comment format. 
  • The business provides contact information for the reviewer’s convenience.   

Example #3: Neutral review

Responding to 3-star reviews on Yelp can be tricky since they often contain both positive and negative feedback – or, in other cases, don’t lean strongly toward either sentiment. Here’s an example of how one fast food franchise handled a 3-star review from a moderately satisfied customer. 

how to respond to yelp review example five
image that comes with the review

how to respond to yelp review example six

Type of business: Fast food franchise 

Customer rating: 3 stars

Why this Yelp review response is effective: 

  • The response greets the customer by name.
  • The business thanks the reviewer and welcomes them back to the restaurant. 
  • It includes the name and location of the business. 
  • The business assures the customer that their negative comments will be used to help make improvements for future guests. 
  • It incorporates the reviewer’s positive comments about the business (“We’re pleased that you found our menu offerings to be quality items”). This both personalizes the response and draws attention to the brand’s good qualities. 

Example #4: Positive review

Here’s how a Florida restaurant responded to a happy customer who left a detailed and (mostly) positive review. 

how to respond to yelp review example seven
how to respond to yelp review example eight

Type of business: Restaurant/cafe 

Customer rating: 4 stars

Why this Yelp review response is effective: 

  • It uses the reviewer’s name.
  • It thanks the customer for their positive review. 
  • It encourages the reviewer to return in a friendly and courteous tone, which helps promote customer loyalty.
  • It incorporates details from the original review, which simultaneously personalizes the response and allows the business to highlight its positive qualities (“We’re proud to serve the best Cuban coffee” in response to “The coffee/cafe is incredible”).  

Example #5: Negative review 

If you want to earn repeat business – and the trust of potential customers – it’s vital not to ignore bad yelp reviews and negative feedback, especially if it concerns multiple aspects of a customer’s experience. Here’s how a California restaurant dealt with a bad review featuring negative feedback about service, quality, and pricing. 

how to respond to yelp review example nine

how to respond to yelp review example ten

Type of business: Restaurant 

Customer rating: 2 stars

Why this Yelp review response is effective: 

  • It uses the reviewer’s name. 
  • It includes an apology for the diner’s negative experience. 
  • The response is personalized by the inclusion of review-specific details like “displeased with our pricing.” 
  • The response subtly calls attention to the brand’s positive qualities, emphasizing that the business is committed to providing “prompt, attentive service” in its apology. 

A quicker way to respond to Yelp reviews 

Say goodbye to responding to all of your reviews by hand – and say hello to a faster, easier, more efficient solution. 

Designed for small businesses and multi-location brands, ResponseScribe provides your reviewers with professional, custom replies. 

Our AI-based plan offers the fastest speeds and the lowest prices, starting at just $19 per month with average response times of one hour. 

Increase the level of customization by choosing a human-powered plan, which provides your customers on Yelp and 50+ other review sites with responses in 24 hours or less. 

Or, get the best of both worlds with our hybrid plan, which combines the expertise of human writers with the affordability of the best review software.

No matter which plan you choose, you’ll get: 

  • Business insight reports 
  • Automatic review monitoring on Yelp plus over 50 other platforms 
  • The ability to approve and edit responses via text or email 
  • 24/7 customer support via chat, phone, and email 

Save time on replying, improve your online reputation, and ensure your customer messaging stays consistent and on-brand. Let our team deal with your reviews so that your team can deal with growing your business. 

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Start your free trial of our Yelp review response service for small businesses 

ResponseScribe makes it fast and easy to reply to customer reviews on 50+ platforms, including Google and Yelp. Generate professional replies in just one hour on average with our AI  response generator, or get more customization options with a people-powered plan. 

Boost customer satisfaction, earn more positive reviews, and attract new customers to your business. Start your free trial of ResponseScribe today. 

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