The Yelp Effect: How Can You Respond To A Negative Review?

Managing Your Brand on Yelp: Los Perros LocosSocial networking review sites are becoming a much larger force in consumer decision-making than ever before. Sites like enjoy a position of trust in the minds of the public, based on the “word of mouth” factor.

How many consumers value review sites? According to David Mielach with, “70% of people profess trust in the appraisals” — an increase of 15% in the last four years.

So when it comes to managing a brand’s presence both online and in the brick-and-mortar world, review sites–and how your brand responds to those reviews–can have tremendous implications on businesses large and small.

But how do you manage a situation in which your business has received a negative review?

As the owner of a small restaurant, Los Perros Locos in NYC, I recently had to handle a tricky situation just like this. A consumer gave a fairly scathing review, ranking the experience one star out of five and citing “Grade-Z hot dog meat.”  Knowing this review could turn traffic away, how could I remedy the situation?

Rather than disputing the customer’s claim, I replied to the customer on Yelp, showing my understanding that he didn’t enjoy his hot dog, and instead offering up hot dog alternatives: “one of our Pat LaFrieda Creekstone Farms beef “hamburguesas”, or our “Pollo Coca Cola sandwich (organic chicken thigh meat marinated in Coca Cola and Pineapple juice).”

This turned a negative review into a point of mutual understanding with the customer–and created a solution by providing a  product that might better suit his needs. In this case, the customer reacted by returning to the store, trying a hamburger, and revising his previous review to four stars with the comment “I’m now a believer.”

With over 400 Yelp views for Los Perros Locos per week, this conversation occurred in full view of every user who checks the page. By responding to the customer’s individual review and needs, I was able to create positive content out of negative, and to manage my brand’s reputation on social media.

What are your tips for managing negative reviews of your business?