How to Turn Negative Yelp Reviews Into New Customers

Table of Contents

Last Updated: July 2024

Negative Yelp reviews can be daunting for any business, sending a wave of anxiety through even the most seasoned entrepreneurs. 

In today’s fast-paced digital world, where online reputation can make or break a business, addressing negative Yelp reviews has become a crucial skill. 

However, what if these seemingly detrimental reviews can be transformed into opportunities? Yes, you heard it right – negative Yelp reviews can pave the way for attracting new customers! 

In this article, we will unravel the secrets of how to turn those critical comments into a magnet for potential patrons, all while enhancing your business’s online credibility. Stick around to discover the transformative power hidden within those negative Yelp reviews.

Leaders Need To Respond To Online Reviews

Business owners juggle numerous tasks daily. While many responsibilities can be delegated to capable team members, responding to online reviews isn’t one of them. 

When the response comes directly from the business owner or general manager, it holds more weight with potential customers.

Take Vivian Howard and Ben Knight, renowned restaurateurs in Kinston, North Carolina, as an example. Despite their fame from Howard’s PBS show “A Chef’s Life” and a best-selling cookbook, Ben personally handles online reviews for their two restaurants. 

Imagine receiving a response from your favorite PBS star – it demonstrates that customer satisfaction remains the top priority, showcasing the business’s commitment regardless of what’s happening behind the scenes.

negative yelp review

Explore Other Review Platforms

Yelp stands as the reigning champion of review platforms. It’s rare to encounter a millennial who hasn’t used the site to pick a restaurant or a hair salon. Despite its prominence, Yelp isn’t the sole platform where responding to reviews is essential.

Consider these alternative platforms:

  • Facebook
  • Google Reviews
  • TripAdvisor
  • Zagat
  • OpenTable
  • Better Business Bureau (BBB)


For businesses in specific niches, be on the lookout for industry-specific review sites. These lesser-known platforms might carry more influence, especially among influencers. 

Regardless, focus on the most relevant review sites for your business. Dedicate time each week to respond to reviews on every platform. Consistency across these platforms is paramount!

Be Specific in Your Responses

This presents a genuine chance to distinguish yourself, as most responses to online reviews are bland and repetitive, lacking genuine meaning. This can be especially frustrating for customers who take the time to write a review.

As a general rule, the more effort a customer puts into a review, the more personalized and specific your response should be.

When crafting responses to reviews, be mindful of these common mistakes:

1. Avoid Reusing Generic Messages 

Using the copy-and-paste method adds no value to the customer; in fact, it can come off as dismissive. It implies, “This complaint isn’t significant enough for a unique response.”

2. Steer Clear of Apologizing Just for the Inconvenience 

Apologizing solely for the inconvenience doesn’t address the actual issue; it suggests a lack of genuine intent to make improvements. It implies a preference to gloss over the problem.

3. Eliminate the Use of the Word ‘This’ 

Using “this” in reference to an issue demonstrates a lack of active listening. Instead of vaguely alluding to a generic problem, echo the reviewer’s description of the issue. 

Saying “We apologize for the over-salted food” conveys a much different sentiment than “We are sorry for this.”

Watch Your Tone and Voice

Have you ever encountered someone truly gracious? Someone whose demeanor exudes courtesy, kindness, and respect, revealing genuine care for the person they are addressing?

In the realm of issue resolution, adopting a gracious tone is paramount. Using warm, appreciative language has the power to make readers reconsider a reviewer’s negative experience. In essence, a gracious approach disarms people, even those who may be irate complainers.

Take Olives & Grace, a cherished independent gift shop in Boston, for example. The owner, Sofi Madison, responded to a disgruntled reviewer with a remarkably gracious tone. 

Even if this response didn’t mend the relationship with the specific individual, Madison likely attracted new customers through her warm and empathetic approach to addressing a dismissive review.

Although the impact would have been greater if Madison had responded immediately rather than nine months later, the key takeaway remains: it’s crucial to respond, even if it’s months after the initial review. 

If projecting a respectful and appreciative tone seems challenging, it’s advisable to sleep on the issue. Waiting until you’re less reactive is essential, as getting defensive never aids the situation.

Embrace Honest Communication

Sometimes, a bad review isn’t due to a mistake but unmet expectations, like a customer unhappy with your product’s price or not understanding your services.

In such cases, politely clarify the situation. There’s no need to be confrontational, even if the customer misunderstood. Métier Racing and Coffee handled a negative Google review about their espresso price excellently.

They used the moment to educate potential customers. Now, readers know the shop focuses on high-quality, single-origin roasts. This approach might even attract people willing to pay more for the best espresso in Seattle.

negative yelp review
Google Reviews

Offer Something Extra

Mastering the art of apologizing is crucial when responding to reviews. To change people’s minds, action is essential, going above and beyond the expected level of service.

For instance, if a customer complains online, they anticipate a sincere apology. To truly impress, businesses must surpass expectations. Imagine a restaurant not just apologizing but offering free entrees during the next visit to a couple who found a hair in their food.

Take the Regatta Inn, a cozy bed and breakfast in Nantucket, as an example. When a couple faced heating issues during their stay, manager Linda didn’t just offer a verbal apology; she provided a free off-season night and even thanked the reviewer on TripAdvisor. 

negative yelp review

Linda’s response demonstrated the inn’s commitment to customer satisfaction, emphasizing integrity over profits. Such actions resonate with people, making them eager to become customers because they know their experience truly matters. Best Review Collection Software

In the digital age, online reviews play a pivotal role in shaping a business’s reputation. stands as a leading review collection software, empowering businesses to effortlessly gather and manage customer feedback. 

Designed with simplicity and effectiveness in mind, streamlines the review collection process, ensuring businesses can harness the power of positive feedback while efficiently addressing concerns.

negative yelp review

Key Features

    • Multi-Platform Integration: Integrates with your various online platforms, including Yelp, Google Reviews, Facebook, TripAdvisor, and more, allowing you to consolidate your reviews in one central dashboard.
    • Automated Review Requests: With, you can automate the process of requesting reviews from satisfied customers, saving time and ensuring a consistent approach to review collection.
    • Real-Time Monitoring: Stay updated with real-time notifications for new reviews. ensures you are always aware of customer feedback, enabling timely responses.
    • Negative Review Management: Address negative reviews promptly and professionally. provides tools to manage and resolve customer complaints, helping you to turn negative experiences into positive outcomes.
    • Analytics and Reporting: Gain valuable insights into customer sentiment with detailed analytics and reporting features. Track trends, monitor customer satisfaction levels, and make data-driven decisions to enhance your services.
    • Customer Engagement: Foster stronger relationships with customers through personalized follow-ups. enables you to engage with customers, express gratitude for positive feedback, and address concerns proactively.
    • Compliance and Security: adheres to strict data security standards, ensuring that customer information remains confidential and secure.

Turning Bad Reviews into Great Service

Critical online reviews offer insight into what’s not functioning well. It’s your choice whether they become a downfall or a chance to improve. 

Addressing these issues publicly demonstrates your appreciation for each customer. Learning from these mistakes can propel your business forward without any hindrance!

Moreover, are you aiming to enhance your customer assistance significantly? 

Have you considered giving Saufter a shot? It’s a robust tool designed to elevate your customer service through intelligent automation and valuable insights. 

Now is the moment to enhance your support, foster meaningful connections, and expand your business. 

Don’t miss this opportunity—enroll now for exceptional customer support!



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