Attorney Tips: How to Respond to Negative Reviews

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Attorney Tips: How to Respond to Negative Reviews
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Reviews and testimonials are some of the most powerful factors influencing potential clients to become actual clients. This is why it’s a good idea to encourage and include reviews in a myriad of locations, from Google and Yelp to Facebook and of course on the law firm’s actual website. While positive reviews are certainly preferable, negative reviews can be equally enlightening for a visitor wanting to learn more about a law firm; this is why it’s not always a good idea to delete a bad review right away. The following tips can help lawyers respond to negative reviews in a way that leverages them to the best interest of the law firm.

Tip #1: Decide whether or not a negative review warrants deletion.

It may be surprising to hear that most negative reviews really don’t need to be deleted. Deleting every negative review can give the impression that a law firm cares more about their carefully polished appearance than listening to the concerns of their clients. That said, reviews from people who did not actually work with the firm, contain outright defamation, and/or include gratuitous profanity might be fine to delete; reviews that contain confidential material should also be deleted. 

However, deleting bad reviews can make some reviewers angry, leading them to call out the fact in additional reviews, which doesn’t look good for the law firm. Additionally, witnessing how a lawyer responds to challenges (i.e. negative reviews) and whether or not they express a desire to collaborate toward a solution can be really telling about the experience a potential client has to look forward to and potentially just as valuable as a positive review.

Tip #2: Address the unhappy reviewer’s concerns.

Whenever someone expresses a less-than-desirable experience with the firm, it’s important to take their concerns into account regardless of whether or not you feel they are valid. Replying to a negative review by specifically addressing the reviewer’s concerns with the intention of correcting whatever perceived issue they are distressed by is a good way to not only recover a potential relationship but to show others scrolling through the reviews that the attorneys at your firm are good listeners who take their clients seriously. Simply letting the reviewer know you’re sorry they had a poor experience followed by suggesting you work together toward an agreeable solution is a great way to recover and increase confidence with that person as well as other potential clients.

Tip #3: Apologies should be sympathetic and personal.

Sometimes all a person wants to hear is an apology; however, this can be tricky when it comes to reviews. Apologizing to a person who is furious about something that might not have occurred as they presented it in their review could make it appear like the lawyer is admitting to some sort of wrongdoing. This is why apologies should be sympathetic and personal if they are included in a response to a negative review. 

Apologies that are generally safe to respond to a review with could include, “I’m sorry to hear about your experience…” or “I’m sorry to hear about your distress…” However, an apology should always be followed up with a personal invitation to engage in a private discourse about the matter. For example, “We would love the chance to personally discuss the issues you’ve presented so that we can work together to find a solution.” At that point it’s a good idea to contact the reviewer one-on-one to address their concerns individually and out of the public eye.

While responding to negative reviews can be stressful and time-consuming, it’s an extremely important part of reputation management for law firms and attorneys. For more help with reviews and testimonials, reach out to a legal marketing expert.

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