Originally posted in the Colorado Women's Bar Association, The 1891 Blog.
Bad reviews are an inevitable part of business ownership - even for lawyers. No matter how much you focus on the client experience and providing great results, there will always be clients who simply are not satisfied. Unfortunately, the bad reviews they leave on their way out can impact your law firm's business for years to come. Learning how to deal with bad reviews with grace, professionalism, and class helps you protect your reputation.
Some attorneys do not realize the weight that online reviews hold until they are facing their first negative review. It is crucial to address reviews in your marketing plan before you must address a negative one, because this allows you to take prompt action instead of panicking. Reviews are one of the primary resources people use when searching for an attorney. Research indicates that 75% of surveyed individuals who had searched for an attorney in the previous year used online resources. Reviews can even override convenience. The same research found that 70% of people were willing to travel further for an attorney with better reviews than their more local options.
First, stay calm and remember that all potential clients will see how you respond publicly to a review. A bad review is, in most situations, not a personal attack. Responding too passionately or with insults looks childish and unprofessional to future clients . So stay out of the weeds and take a break after reading the review. Do not come back to it until you can look at it from an impartial point of view.
Set aside any instinct you have to be defensive, point out inaccuracies in the review, or call out the reviewer. Start by responding with kindness if possible. It is fine to acknowledge the person and their negative experience. But be sure to stress in your response how much your firm values its clients and protects its client experience. From there, you can suggest moving the conversation to a private platform. Picking apart the review piece by piece in a public setting often leads to a back-and-forth that looks petty and also might get you in hot water with the attorney regulation office. Remember, the goal is to have the client leave happy, not to prove them wrong and embarrass them. You might leave an e-mail address or phone number that they can contact to discuss their concerns and potential remedies further.
Read the full article on the Colorado Women's Bar Association, The 1891 Blog.