Here’s a law practice management scenario for you. You come into work and receive a message notifying you of a new online review. When you read the review, you see that it’s not exactly glowing. The client calls you rude, says you’re difficult to get in touch with, and that your services were overpriced. Of course this is only the opinion of one disgruntled individual. So is this negative review really that big a deal? Is it really something worth stressing over?
Of course it’s a big deal! Yes, you better be concerned with a review like this one!
“But, I know I’m a good lawyer, and won’t concern myself with negative online chatter.”
Well you better, or your future client opportunities could end up dwindling fast.
Chances are before any consumer actually decides to contact you, they’re going to do an online search of your firm. And if one of the first things a consumer sees is a review like the one we described above, do you really expect them to want to move forward with your firm?
According to a recent survey from BrightLocal, 85% of consumers trust online reviews a much as personal recommendations.
That statistic should alarm you, and so should a bad review of your firm. But, don’t panic, we’re here to help. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through exactly what to do if your firm receives a potentially damaging review.
Reaching Out To Your Reviewers
Before you consider posting a public response online to the person that published a negative review about your firm, you’ll want to see if the issue can be resolved privately first. In an article for FindLaw, SEO strategist Kent Campbell, recommends reaching out to the reviewer through phone call.
“DO call the reviewer on the phone and speak calmly,”
“Don’t send an email. If you do, the email may be reposted online. Discuss the reviewer’s concerns and allow them to feel heard. Many times, people who are upset about a perceived situation simply want to have their grievances heard and addressed.”
Before the call, make a list of what you want to discuss, and be sure to refresh yourself on the important details of your former client’s case. Coming into the call prepared will signal to your reviewer that you actually do care about their case, and that they are not just another client to you.
Once the call begins, make sure your client has a chance to tell their side of the story. As Campbell notes, consumers want to feel like they’re actually being heard. When it’s your turn to talk, stick to the facts of what happened, and avoid making any kind of threats or accusations. Your goal during this call is to see if there is any middle ground to be found with your reviewer, and if there is, do what you can to fix the problem in exchange for the review being taken down.
Sometimes this conversation will be highly beneficial, and you’ll come to a happy resolution, and have your firm’s negative review disappear or be altered. However, in many cases, your outreach efforts won’t go so smoothly. If during your phone call with a reviewer, you quickly come to realize that there is no reasoning with them, don’t waste your breath for too long. Politely end the call, and quickly transition into damage control mode.
Don’t Take Negative Feedback Personally
After receiving a negative review, getting angry is one of the worst things you can do. However, anger is also probably the most natural emotion to feel when someone is personally attacking you and the thing you do best. But, before you actually go and respond to your negative reviewer, you’re going to need to let that anger go.
Offering an overly emotional response will usually lead to you and your firm coming off as unprofessional. Remember just like your potential clients will probably look at a bad review of your firm, they’ll probably take notice of your public response to that review as well. You will want to offer some kind of response, but maybe don’t hit send right away on that first draft of your response.
“I advise my clients to write up a response, wait for a few hours or a day to consider any potential consequences, then revisit the response and edit as needed before they post it to any platform.”
Douglas Bradley of Everest Legal Marketing said in a recent blog post.
“An ounce of time can create a ton of perspective.”
Before sending a response, ask yourself, if this was a client of yours sending this message, would you advise them against saying it. If the answer is yes, it’s time to go back and make some edits.
Turning Bad Reviews Into Marketing Opportunities
It’s hard to accept a negative review as anything other than a loss for your firm. However, there is still a way to come away with a partial victory from this experience. In order to do so, you’re going to need to publicly respond to your online review. And while you can hold out hope that this response will nudge a reviewer towards deleting what they said about you, you’re really doing this to make a positive impression on potential future clients.
When issuing this response, you’ll want to keep a few things in mind:
- Don’t rant and rave. Keep your response focused. Address only the points being brought up by your reviewer.
- In your response you should address the reviewer by name, but also keep in mind that this response is actually for a larger audience that knows nothing about your case. Carefully reiterate the details of what happened, recap where and why things went wrong, and use facts and information to defend yourself.
- Don’t use sarcasm, and don’t say anything that might be taken as a personal attack. You don’t want to give the reviewer any fuel for a rebuttal, or come off as the villian.
- Don’t admit fault. Instead, inform the reviewer that you’d still be open to resolving their issue and having another conversation.
- After posting your response, you may see your reviewer fire back with more negative words. At this point, walk away from the conversation. You’ve already explained yourself to the potential future clients you’re trying to reach, and arguing with someone that does not want to be helped is a waste of your time.
By maintaining a calm tone and offering an intelligent response, you can help change the way people perceive a negative review of your services. Instead of the online viewer walking away thinking your firm is incompetent or unsympathetic, they may start to realize that this one review isn’t indicative of the quality of your legal services, and that you really do care about your clients’ experiences. Of course it helps if you have a lot of positive reviews surrounding that negative review, so always be sure to ask clients you’ve had positive experiences with to review you.
Learning From The Experience
Getting a negative review taken down or publishing a great response to a negative review can make you feel really good in the short term, but you should still take some time to reflect on why you received such poor feedback in the first place. Sure, some bad reviews are completely uncalled for and undeserved, but most contain at least some level of truth.
Negative reviews can actually provide a lot of useful feedback. And you should use that feedback to shore up any weak points of your service right away, because if one client feels a certain way about you, there’s a good chance other clients may feel the same. And once the bad reviews really start piling up for your firm, marketing will become extremely difficult.
So if you a client thinks you’re rude, make an effort to be a little kinder and more understanding. If a client finds you difficult to get in touch with, it’s probably time to hire a legal answering service. And if clients find your services to be overpriced, consult with others in your industry to see how your prices line up with what they’re offering. Don’t think of negative reviews as the end of the world. Think of them as a chance for you and your firm to grow and be better.