How Lawyers Should React To Negative Reviews

We’ve been talking about the reasons law firms should embrace online ratings and rankings. Rather than being something to fear or avoid, they can actually help boost your firm’s caseload.

That probably sounds like an easy case to make when the reviews are positive. FindLaw research shows that most people want to post positive reviews. But what about negative reviews?

It might be tempting to take them personally. You know your firm has a good reputation—you’ve been working hard for years to build it.

But my advice is: Don’t give into temptation. That could damage that hard-earned reputation. The research in FindLaw’s latest white paper demonstrates that there’s a better approach:

  1. First, wait and stay calm. When you see a negative review, take a deep breath. Give yourself some time to cool off.
  2. Determine the specific issue. Many times, negative comments are the result of some misunderstanding. This could be the details of their bill or the reason their case resolved as it did. By isolating the cause of the complaint, you can craft a more valuable – and less emotional – response.
  3. Be succinct, polite and constructive. Acknowledge the reviewer’s feelings and communicate your appreciation for their feedback. Speak directly to the disappointed client’s concern avoiding bland, robotic clichés. Use this response as an opportunity to express your own disappointment, and to clarify the reasons why the case didn’t turn out as hoped for.

You might also be tempted to simply say nothing at all when a bad review appears. That, too, could be a mistake. That’s because even negative, one-star reviews can be business builders.

Here’s why: A negative review provides you the opportunity to respond and address the unhappy client’s experience. And that has been shown to have a big impact on customer comfort. Taking the time and trouble to respond to an unhappy client can boost how legal consumers perceive your firm.

So not only should you not fear online reviews – it actually can pay to encourage more of them. I’ll outline some ways for doing that in my next post. In the meantime, take some time to download our newest white paper, You Can’t Control Your Firm’s Reputation. It discusses in detail practical strategies for managing your firm’s reputation in the digital age – and for building business through rankings and reviews. What’s more, it’s free.

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