The online marketplace has forever altered the way customers and clients interact with the businesses that they work with. And your firm is no different. The more clients you represent, the greater the likelihood that you will receive your share of online reviews. Although every attorney prefers to have perfect marks across the board in regards to feedback from their services, not all comments are created equal. In some cases, you’ll need to be wary of unsatisfied clients who may attempt to tarnish your good name in the form of negative reviews. Whether it’s the result of an unfavorable verdict for a client, or simply someone who is trolling just for the fun of it, it’s important to understand how to appropriately respond to negative reviews that are posted on your website or social channels.
So how should an attorney handle negative reviews?
Understand the Client’s Point-of-View:
There may be many factors that led to the negative review. Before making assumptions and formulating a response of your own, take some time to understand the rationale behind your client’s comments. Who posted it? Are the criticisms/concerns mentioned valid? Look back at your previous case files to refresh your memory on the kind of encounter you had with this particular individual. The first step is determining whether or not the comment deserves your utmost attention or if it’s just a mere instigator.
Where Was the Review Posted?
Sometimes client information may not be available so you need to work with other factors that the review provides – such as grievances listed against your professional conduct and so forth. If the review is prominent on the first page of a Google search for your firm, it’s probably impacting customer traffic to your firm. Reviews posted on any of your social media platforms are typically the most prominent, considering that social posts are usually the most viewed on a regular basis. Concerns posted on social feeds should be addressed as soon as possible, despite their validity. But if a bad review is buried on an obscure review site somewhere, it may not be worth worrying about.
In the case that the review is buried somewhere obscure, is a little outdated and doesn’t seem to be impacting your business, you’re probably safe with just ignoring it. If it’s blatantly wrong, or mistakenly posted on the wrong firm’s page entirely, you can flag the review or report it as spam, depending on what the review platform offers. However, carefully consider doing this, as it can be taken poorly, especially if you start flagging legitimate negative reviews.
If you do decide that the negative review is worth responding to, remember your position and treat the situation as professionally as possible. Keep your cool and avoid personally attacking the individual’s integrity, as this could fuel their anger even further. Your best bet is to keep your response short by apologizing for their disappointment. Encourage them to contact your office via phone to further discuss the issue so that the venue of the disagreement is taken offline and out of sight from the general public. In addition, don’t do anything that may give away personal details or provide a breach in ethical conduct.
First and foremost, your goal is to neutralize any and all negative reviews with complete respect and understanding of the client’s dissatisfaction. A mishandled complaint could mean the difference between a civilized resolution and possibly further damaging your professional reputation. Always leave lines of communication open and offer a listening ear should your client wish to discuss the matter further. So remember to listen, sympathize, and of course… always remain enchanting!
Have you or your firm ever received a negative review online? How did you personally handle the situation and what would your advice be to others on how to effectively appease a disgruntled client?
I’d love to hear from you, so be sure to share your experiences in the comment box below!