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A recent sketch on the IFC show Portlandia highlighted a humorous series of events that began when bookstore owners Toni and Candace discovered they have a dreaded one-star review on Yelp. After scouring the user profile of the offending reviewer for clues, the two business owners stake out a local sports bar hoping to confront the unhappy customer face-to-face. Beneath the witty humor, however, the clip highlights a perfect example of what not to do if you happen to get a negative review.

While 80 percent of the reviews on Yelp are three stars or higher, every business out there will likely receive negative feedback at some point because it’s impossible to please 100 percent of the people you deal with 100 percent of the time. That being said, don’t lose your cool when it happens to you. Instead, take some time to think about what customer service policies you have in place in the offline world and apply that same logic when dealing with online reviewers. To be specific, consider implementing constructive feedback when appropriate, and get in the habit of addressing the concerns of critical reviewers (diplomatically of course) using the private message or public comment feature at

This has proven to be a effective approach is effective for business owners. Over the past year Yelp held numerous town hall meetings with business owners and members of the Yelp Elite squad (some of the most prolific reviewers) to learn what resonates with consumers. Yelp users consistently mentioned that they appreciate getting a response from business owners after leaving reviews, whether positive or negative. Check out several examples of how a well thought out response to a negative review can result in a return visit from the customer, as well as a bump in star rating.

So the next time you get a less than stellar review, remember that you have a suite of tools at your fingertips to address your critics so you won’t have to go to the extreme of stalking your reviewers like our friends in Portlandia.


Danny Wurst is the community manager and marketing director for Yelp Chicago. In addition to leading the local community of Yelp reviewers both online and off, he also regularly interacts with business owners to answer questions and provide insight on online services like Yelp. When he’s not working (or sometimes when he is), he’s enjoying his favorite meal: a burger and beer.