Six Ways for Law Firms to Address a Bad Online Review

September 10, 2018

Many Colorado law firms depend on word-of-mouth referrals to help build a strong client base and to be competitive in a tough, crowded market. In spite of the fact that attorneys do their best work for a client, some clients aren't easy to please or aren't happy with the outcome of their case. These clients have an outlet for their frustration and can vent on social media and other places about their perceived "poor" experience with your law firm.

Bad reviews about lawyers can be posted on Google Business pages,

AVVO, Martindale-Hubbell and the like so be sure you know what others are posting about you on these pages.

On standard marketing platforms, 90% of consumers state that they only consider utilizing the services or products of a company if they have an average star rating of 3-stars or more.

That can be pretty discouraging. It's easy to respond to positive reviews with an honest thank you and move on. But I am often asked, how should a law firm respond to negative online reviews?

It's actually not as difficult as it seems. While we might want to say something disparaging about the posted complaint, that's an exercise in futility. It takes you to the level of the complainant, and you want to respond from a place of humility and gratitude. The best possible scenario is to have them remove the review entirely from the internet. If that is not possible, be completely aware of your audience and write your response as if every client (past, current, and future) are reading your words. If they wer eavesdropping on your response to this angry client, how would you want them to perceive your law firm? What would you want them to know about your values, level of customer service, etc.?

Here are fast ideas on how to respond to a negative review of your law firm online:

  1. Be Sincere. Sympathize in your response to the review. It's fairly well-known that those who are compelled to leave a negative review truly only want you to acknowledge their experience. There no time like the present. Be sure to recognizing their concerns, an easy way to do this is to rephrase them (i.e. "I understand from your comments that you are disappointed with the outcome of your matter.)"
  2. Be Nice. Again, be aware of the entire audience of your response. It is bigger than just that angry client so don't be defensive in your response. Be sure to take the high road - no matter how egregious or misled the comments are (i.e. "We are client focused and have worked very hard to be one of the top firms in our practice area. This being said, we take your comments very seriously.").
  3. Be Your Own Advocate. With class, feel free to insert a little marketing in your response. Explain the type of services you offer and list several positive features of your firm and its team to counterbalance the negativity of the review (i.e. "We are proud of our strong team. We work hard from day one of our representation.
  4. Take it Offline. If you can, move the conversation off the internet. Provide the name of someone at your firm that can speak with the person directly by phone. The optics would be best if this person had weight in your office such as the managing partner or executive director, so the issue can be immediately responded to by a decision maker (i.e. "We are sad to hear that you are so upset with the outcome of your matter. Please contact our Managing Partner directly to address your concerns in a private phone call. She is available immediately and at your convenience to take your call.
  5. Keep it Short. Your response should be simple, short, and sweet. Don't draw out the problem online by asking for details or needless questions. You want attention taken away from the complaint, not to it. By keeping your response brief, there's no chance of further upsetting the client, causing them to add more negative feedback. A good rule of thumb is to use no more than three sentences.
  6. Bury It. If you have exhausted all options of having the review removed or otherwise addressed, work your team to develop a campaign to solicit reviews from satisfied clients and co-counsel. Oftentimes, this part of the file closure process goes to the side for law firms. But good reviews matter as much as the bad ones. Most times happy clients are eager to write recommendations of your services. If you cannot have the negative review removed provide a proactive response to it by flooding the page with nice experiences and comments from clients you have served in the past.

A final bit of advice: don't include the name of your firm or relevant search keywords in your response. You don't want this review showing up in future search results.

Have more questions? Call me at 303-507-3944 or email me directly at Meranda@DenverLegalMarketing.com

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