As business owners, there is nothing better than reading about how satisfied a client is with your services in a positive review. Unfortunately there is another side of the coin — the negative review. Negative reviews, as Yelp puts it, “Can feel like a gut punch.”
If you or your law firm has received a bad review, do not despair. This can be a great opportunity for your firm if you take the proper action!
According to Yelp, “The good news is that by contacting your reviewer and establishing a genuine client relationship, you have a chance to help the situation and maybe even change that client’s perspective for the better.”
What Happens If I Get A Bad Review?
In order to turn bad reviews into assets that will benefit your practice, you will need to follow a few guidelines.
First, take a step back and let yourself calm down for a day. Responding to criticism in the heat of the moment rarely provides any benefit and normally causes added trouble. Responding to a bad review right after reading it when you are aggravated can lead to defensive comments, which will likely escalate the problem. If you must write something, turn it into a draft and send it to someone outside the company to review. Let them take out anything that sounds defensive.
Next, according to local search expert Mike Blumenthal, you should own the issue. If the reviewer is a known customer of yours and has left a legitimate complaint, own up to the mistake. If the reviewer is not a confirmed client, you will need to contact customer support for the related review site to resolve the issue and see what can be done to remove the false review. Otherwise, take the opportunity to respond and provide a fix to the problem. Your public response will allow other potential clients to see that you acknowledge mistakes and attempt to correct them, instead of leaving them unanswered or unresolved. This lets potential clients know that, even if something goes wrong, you are the type of attorney or law firm that will do everything you can to correct problems and ensure they do not happen to others.
Keep your response short. There is no need to write a book, or tell every perspective from your side. Simply claim responsibility for the mistake, thank the customer for taking time to alert you of the problem and provide a solution to the issue. Keep it short and simple, remain professional and always offer a solution when appropriate
If the issue is more complicated and you need to discuss things further with a client, that is fine, but still give your short, simple fix response. After that, contact the client via email or another discreet way to work out further details. You do not want to have a detailed discussion with a client on a review site. That will only open opportunities for additional complications.
Finally, do not ignore negative reviews. Poor reviews have a tendency to take on a life of their own and get away from you. Any reviewer could have a huge following and, with a simple tweet and share, could send out a negative review to thousands of people. This kind of influence could cause great damage to your business’ bottom line and reputation. Make sure to respond to a negative review in a timely manner, keeping it simple with feedback, a fix and a ‘thank you’!
What About Good Reviews?
If your clients are pleased enough with your services to provide a good review for your firm, you should take a moment to respond as well. Send your positive reviewer your simple, but sincere, thanks and note it was a pleasure working with them. This proactive interaction will make it easier to establish a human relationship with your current clients and future clients.
Here are a few sites to monitor for new reviews of your law firm: Google +, Yelp and Avvo.
User reviews, both positive and negative, can provide added benefit and free word-of-mouth marketing to your business through good social media strategies. Get in the habit of responding to all reviews, and not just negative ones. Always remain civil and professional and enjoy the benefits that will come to you for doing so. Grant Brott