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Bad Reviews Are Bad for Business: What Will You Do with Them?

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by carlton smith in Blog
November 28, 2018
illustration showing bad online reviews

Online reviews are a crucial part of marketing for your law firm. They enable clients to provide a recommendation of your services while also providing others with insights into your process. It’s a great way to drum up business for your firm.

But, as you’re well aware, not every client is going to walk away satisfied.

As such, you can expect any grievances clients feel towards your law firm to eventually make their way to the online review platform of their choosing in the form of bad reviews. So, what do you do?

Lash out in anger?

Shrink away in denial?

Get defensive?

Delete your business page on that platform and hope that shuts down the criticism?

This brief guide will teach you what to do with those bad reviews.

What to Do with Bad Reviews Online

Bad reviews happen to even the best of law firms. You see it all the time. They have near-perfect 5-star ratings, with the exception of a few bad reviews. While they might not be enough to destroy a law firm’s reputation, the way in which they’re handled could turn prospective clients’ scrutiny to complete distrust in no time at all.

So, here is what you need to do to handle bad reviews properly:

1. Read All of Them

There’s no point in trying to ignore bad reviews (or even online reviews altogether). Whether or not you publish a business page for your law firm on Google My Business, Facebook, or Yelp, your clients will find a way to have that page created so they can leave reviews for others to find.

That means you should take ownership of those key review platforms and, then, use an online review tool to seamlessly monitor and manage them all in one place.

2. Always Respond

Clients are leaving reviews online – especially in popular forums – because they want to be heard. If you stay quiet, it’s only going to stoke the fires even more.

how law firms should handle negative online reviews ignoring them is bad screenshot of an ignored review

Worse, if you leave a comment like this hanging with no reply, you’ll instill fear in prospective clients who use online reviews to vet the qualifications of law firms. Don’t give anyone a reason to think your law firm is unprofessional or uncaring, even if the case has long since closed. All feedback is worth your time.

3. Don’t Take It Personally

When it comes to engaging with bad reviews online, remember that it isn’t personal. There’s no need to make excuses for why one of your lawyers acted the way he or she did or to try to pass the buck for why you lost a case.

how law firms should respond to negative online reviews a screenshot of an insensitive response

The client is upset about the outcome and is looking for a way to lash out. Don’t make the response be about you and do not, under any circumstances, reveal details of their case as a way to justify the complaint.

4. Verify That It’s a Legitimate Review

One of the problems with enabling consumers to leave feedback online is the anonymity of it. If someone held a personal grudge against your law firm, they could do so without having to submit any real proof they were ever a client.

screenshot of a fake online review

In this example, the reviewer was indeed a client unhappy with their results. However, they decided to immaturely lash out while referencing a workshop they hadn’t taken part in. The firm’s partner did a good job of stepping forward to correct this inaccuracy so that readers of the review would understand the context from which it came.

5. Be Sincere

One of the things you should always do when responding to a bad review is to thank the reviewer for their input. Just remember that it needs to be sincere. If your response sounds canned or like you’re subtly giving them the brush off, you run the risk of increasing their attacks on your firm like this:

screenshot of no resolution to negative feedback for a law firm

It’s also not a good sign when others “Like” the negative feedback they’ve left for you. Someone is clearly listening to the conversation, which means you’re losing business as a result.

6. Stay Calm

Another thing to keep in mind is that you want to keep things civil and never go on the offense. Stay calm, respond succinctly, and try to leave it on a positive note if you can’t work to resolve the issue.

screenshot of a law firm responding to a one-star review in a civil manner

7. Take It in Private

When a bad review hits the Internet, don’t continue the conversation in public. When possible, respond to their review online and try to move them to a phone call.

law firm reputation management screenshot of a law firm responding to a negative online reviewer

While it would be great if you could resolve their complaint and get them to change their review to a more positive one, that won’t always be the case. Even if they don’t change their mind, you’ve conducted yourself with decorum which may lessen the damage the review could’ve otherwise done.

8. Learn from Bad Reviews

Often, consumers look to reviews to sniff out common trends in complaints. So the last thing you want to do is receive bad review after bad review that says your lawyers were unresponsive or that your law firm charged exorbitant fees.

screenshot showing how lawyers can learn from bad reviews

Use these bad reviews as a way to learn where your law firm falls short and repair your business accordingly so that no one has any reason to leave another bad review again.

Bad Reviews Are Bad for Business

The world wide web has given consumers a way to air their every thought, complaint, and desire in the public forum. Which means there’s no getting away from the fact that bad reviews abound online.

Online reputation management can be difficult for a law firm, especially when you’re busy tackling cases for current clients. Reach out to Trial Law Digital today and let’s talk about how we can help.

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