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Negative Nellies: How To Handle the Bad Reviews

Nov 28, 2016 | by Lisa Hopkins | Google | SEO
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Last week we discussed just how important online reviews are for for digital marketing and brand management.  Like it or not, potential clients depend on ratings and feedback to form opinions about your law firm before even landing on your website or stepping foot in your office. So now that your law firm understands how imperative reviews are, what happens when you receive a bad review?

Debbie Downers are Real

The first thing to remember about negative reviews: unhappy people are louder than happy ones. In fact, Americans tell an average of nine people about good experiences while they tell 16 people about poor experiences – nearly two times more often. Social media is even more of a vacuum: over one million people view tweets about customer service every week and roughly 80% of those tweets are negative or critical in nature.

This is due in part to a phenomenon known as “negativity bias.” In essence, negative comments have a greater impact than positive ones.  A number of studies suggest negativity is essentially an attention magnet, and with consumers willing to share a bad experience 63% more often than a good one, that negativity can now go viral.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

Don’t get sucked into the downward spiral. Think of a negative review as feedback for making your law firm more successful. “When customers share their story, they’re not just sharing pain points. They’re actually teaching you how to make your product, service, and business better,” shared Kristin Smaby, author of Being Human is Good Business.

And before you ask: no, you can’t just ‘delete’ negative reviews. Even if the person was never a client. Even if you’ve never heard of the person. Unfortunately, the Internet is still a little bit of the Wild West, so the best course of action is to have a strategy for dealing with these negative reviews.

First and foremost, ALWAYS respond in a positive manner. “Even if you do get negative feedback, you can turn it into a positive by engaging in a constructive way and showing that you’re a genuine business,” said Shama Kabani, author of The Zen of Social Media Marketing.

Steps to take when responding to a negative online review of your law firm: 

  1. Thank the reviewer for his or her time and input, and express how important feedback is to the law firm.
  2. Address the reviewer’s concerns directly. If necessary, apologize or take responsibility for the issue and then provide an opportunity for direct communication. This may sound something like this: “We’re sorry the law firm wasn’t able to take your case. Please feel free to reach us directly at 555-555-5555 to further discuss the details.”
  3. While most of the time a reply will do little to change the reviewer’s mind, it goes a long way towards impressing potential clients reading your law firm’s reviews. Showcasing your professional tone through a polite and direct response to a negative review can be worth almost as much as a positive external review.

Go Get ‘Em!

Digital brand management is part of the new normal for law firm marketing. Working to obtain good reviews and ratings should be a key component of a digital marketing strategy for any business (see our tips for gaining online reviews for lawyers here). With that comes the obligation to follow up with unhappy clients, as well. In the end, just remember the old marketing adage: there is no such thing as bad publicity…. as long as it’s handled correctly.

Sidebar 3a73165 About Lisa Hopkins

Lisa Hopkins is a WordPress fanatic and loves statistical analysis of website performance. She also works in graphic design, and enjoys making websites that are both visually appealing and technically advanced.


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