Maybe you worked hard on a case, devoting long hours and plenty of resources, but the results were not what your client expected. Maybe you got the result that your client hoped for, but the opposing party bears a grudge. Maybe you turned down a case because you thought the claim wouldn’t stand up in court or because you didn’t have the necessary resources to represent the client, or maybe you simply didn’t return a phone call as quickly as a potential client wanted. Any of these situations could lead to a negative online review of your work. You may be inclined to ignore those reviews, but before you turn away, you need to understand the impact that a negative review can have on your business. According to Forbes.com, 90% of consumers read online reviews before they use a business, and almost 70% of purchasing decisions are affected by online reviews. While you might like to think that your work speaks for itself, online reviews are both omnipresent and effective. People trust online review sites for accounts of the services that a business offers and for the kind of experience others have had. Online reviews don’t only affect stores and restaurants; potential clients increasingly turn to online commentary to help them to choose legal representation. In this context, bad reviews can be devastating. Legal news site Abovethelaw.com warns that overpromising, failure to communicate or rudeness by office personnel can lead to bad reviews. Unfortunately, even a single bad review can damage your business and your reputation. With that in mind, here are some tips on how to deal with negative reviews.
- Respond quickly: When you receive a negative review, your first response might be to ignore it either because you’re afraid of escalating the situation or because you believe that your reputation and past results should be enough to counteract it. However, it’s a mistake to allow a negative review to stand unaddressed because you don’t know how many people will see that review and possibly avoid your firm because of the negative feedback.
- Respond thoughtfully: When you see a negative review of your work, your first impulse may be to strike back, but seeming thin-skinned or defensive can further damage your reputation. Craft a response that acknowledges any issues but that defuses unfair criticism without being defensive. A measured response to anger can go a long way toward neutralizing the criticism.
- Respond directly: You may want to consider whether you can take this discussion offline and speak directly with the person who posted the review. If the poster was, in fact, a client and has a genuine grievance, you may wish to address their concerns in a phone call or meeting. Sometimes, a client just wants acknowledgement or empathy; sometimes, a negative review will point out a genuine issue that you need to correct. However, a person who airs their grievances in a public forum, rather than taking them up with you, may not want to have a direct conversation.
- Develop a template for responses: Whether you receive good feedback or bad, a template can allow you to provide measured, consistent responses. You might begin by thanking clients for trusting you with their business or by saying that you strive to provide the best service possible.
- Stay “on brand”: Your response to criticism can affect readers’ opinion of you just as much as the original criticism. Whatever you say should be consistent with the persona and the message that you convey elsewhere on your website. Make sure that your response is professional rather than personal.
- Be alert: If you want to respond to negative reviews promptly and consistently, it helps to have prompt, consistent automated notifications that let you know when someone posts something negative about you online. You can use a service that identifies such reviews so that you can take immediate action; you can even use a service that helps you craft answers to criticism.
GetLegal can make the prospect of dealing with negative reviews easier. Our Catalyst™ service can make online reputation management easier because we know online marketing and we know the law. We can:
- Compile and screen reviews from social media platforms from law-related sites, like AVVO, Lawyers.com, and Martindale-Hubbell, to more general review sites, like Google My Business, Facebook, CitySearch, Yahoo, Angie’s List and Trip Advisor.
- Notify you by email whenever someone posts a new review.
- Provide mobile device feedback capability so that you can post positive reviews right away.
- Automatically highlight positive reviews.
- Monitor reviews to prevent false reviews from appearing on your website or social media sites.
- Automatically collect email addresses to use in future marketing campaigns.
- Generate automatic requests to your clients asking for positive reviews.
We can help you make the most of positive reviews and respond effectively to negative reviews. If you’re interested in learning how we can help you protect your online presence, call us at 1-844-GET-LEGAL or send us an e-mail.