When running a business, your customers play a large role in keeping your business afloat. So, when your customers leave Yelp business reviews—whether good and bad—it can really make or break your small business. In fact, according to BrightLocal, 87% of consumers read online customer reviews before deciding whether to engage with a business, and most will avoid businesses after reading a negative customer review.

Thankfully, most people don't stop at simply reading customer reviews—they also read the companies' responses. Here's why small businesses and retailers should respond to customer reviews and how they can do so in a way that increases customer retention.

Why small businesses should respond to customer reviews.

Responding to customer reviews shows your customers not only that you care, but that you're willing to take the extra step to support their customer journey. About 70% of people are more likely to use a business that responds to reviews, as noted by BrightLocal. Not only that, but people also spend significantly more money on products or services from businesses that have excellent reviews. Maybe that's why businesses that reply to reviews earn more revenue than average—up to 35% more.

Keep in mind that critical reviews offer you the chance to make things right when things go wrong, allowing you to further build trust and goodwill. As reported by Salesforce, 78% of people would forgive a company for a mistake after receiving excellent service—service you can provide by responding to reviews.

Here are some do's and don'ts to consider.


  • Respond to all reviews—both good and bad.
  • Respond quickly. Bonus points if it's within 24 hours with a personalized message.
  • Strategically choose whether to respond privately or publicly.


  • Argue with or antagonize the reviewer.
  • Copy and paste a generic, canned response.
  • Ask customers to remove reviews.

How to handle negative Yelp business reviews.

Wondering why you should respond to your unhappy customers?

First, it gives you the chance to strengthen your relationship with customers. If you respond within 24 hours, customers are 33% more likely to positively adjust their poor Yelp business reviews. Second, you may win over new customers by publicly offering good service. Nearly half of people are more likely to visit a business that responds to negative reviews, reported ReviewTrackers. Use them as an opportunity to address concerns, fix anything that went wrong, and improve your business. Share constructive feedback internally so you can make related improvements to your processes and products.

Here are some tips for responding to poor customer reviews:

  • Respond quickly and keep things polite.
  • Make the message personal and address the reviewer by name.
  • Begin by thanking them for bringing the issue to your attention.
  • Mention something positive from their review, if possible.
  • Apologize when warranted.
  • Highlight what you'll do to make things right and how you'll ensure this doesn't happen again.
  • End on a positive note.

How to respond to positive Yelp business reviews.

Responding to good customer reviews builds brand loyalty and attracts new customers. No need to make these long or drawn out, but they should offer a chance to feed good vibes. While you can always use Yelp's "Thank" button or send your happy customer a direct message, consider building in some time to publicly respond to your positive reviews. Here are some tips:

  • Vary your wording to make each response unique.
  • Thank the reviewer for taking the time to share their experience.
  • Repeat key details, especially to highlight positive feedback.
  • Offer to add even more value.
  • Surprise and delight. Occasionally ask how to get in touch and offer bonus swag.
  • Close with an invitation to welcome them back soon.

How to improve customer reviews.

The more you read and respond to your customer reviews, the more you learn about your business and how it's performing in your customers' eyes. This helps you understand where and how to improve your business over time.

The more good reviews you get, the better your ratio—and the higher your average star rating. So, ask your happiest customers to share their experiences. Take these steps to get more positive Yelp business reviews:

  1. Intentionally select customers. Ask for reviews from customers who are likely to provide positive feedback.
  2. Check in with customers. Ask if they've been happy with their product or service and if there's anything else you can do to make their experience even better. If they haven't written a review yet, don't be shy about asking them to post one.
  3. Automate requests for reviews. Use smart marketing tech tools to program review requests. Asking more often helps customers remember their experience and review your business.
  4. Recognize associates who earn positive feedback. If one of your positive reviews mentions someone by name, recognize or reward them. This reinforces their great work and may inspire other team members, as well.

With these best practices, you'll be welcoming new and returning customers into your business on a regular basis. Building that trust with your customers is one of the first steps in strengthening your relationship and ensuring that they visit your business again in the future.

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