Let’s face it… negative online reviews are part of the business. Even Babe Ruth, one of the greatest baseball players of all time, didn’t bat a thousand.

The best plan is to be aware and know how to handle negative online reviews when they arise. There are three simple steps we suggest to help handle negative online reviews:

  • React
  • Respond
  • Resolve

Following these simple steps will help you navigate a negative review successfully.

Even if You’re Not Watching… Your Clients Are Watching You

According to a BrightLocal Survey, 90% of consumers used the internet to find a local business in the last year, and 84% of people trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation from a friend. It’s understandable to not want to look at your online reviews on Google or Avvo, especially if a couple of bad ones pop up.

Source: BrightLocal

The same BrightLocal survey notes that among consumers that read reviews, 97% read businesses’ responses to reviews. It’s always a good thing to have positive reviews, but responding to negative reviews can have as much of an impact as gaining the positive ones.

Negative Reviews, What Not To Do

Before we cover some strategies, let’s discuss what not to do when dealing with a negative review:

1. Ignore The Review

When a negative review shows up on the web it’s easy to want to stick your head in the sand. Ignoring the problem won’t make it go away, and clients (both current and future) can be left wondering if you even care about them.

The absence of a response is just as powerful as a response. Be sure to take action.

2. Argue or Get Defensive

Let’s be honest, you’re good at your job! It’s understandable to be upset about a negative review, but getting defensive will often lead to worse things online.

Take a step back and look at the review with a fresh set of eyes. Often a client just wants to be heard. Take this chance to respond positively. You’ll likely keep a client and signal to potential clients that you are a reasonable and responsible attorney who listens to what people have to say.

3. Try To Delete Your Account, Get The Review Removed, Go On The Offensive, Etc…

Trust me, we’ve heard it all. All of these responses are almost guaranteed to be a waste of time and effort.

Instead, focus on the ways to react, respond, and resolve; turning negative reviews into a positive opportunity.

Negative Reviews, What To Do

Here’s our suggestion about handling negative reviews:

1. Read and Understand Before You React

As we mentioned before, often a client just wants to be heard when leaving a negative review. Something as small as five minutes in the waiting room can stick in the back of a client’s mind.

Before you respond, even in a positive manner, make sure you fully understand what the reviewer is trying to communicate so you can respond effectively. It’s often difficult to decipher the true meaning of a message at first blush, so try to see the review from all angles (including the client’s) before drafting a response.

2. Respond with Empathy

The beginning of your response to a negative review should contain a response of empathy. Restating the client’s concern with an empathetic response shows the client (and those looking at your reviews) that you understand where they are coming from.

A key to this step is, again, understanding the reviewer’s point of view. Former FBI Negotiator Chris Voss has an excellent quote from his book, Never Split The Difference.

“If you approach a negotiation thinking the other guy thinks like you, you are wrong. That’s not empathy, that’s a projection.”

Empathy doesn’t have to be complicated, here is an example:

Mr. Smith, I’m sorry you had a less than positive
experience at our office. I understand your frustration and want to
let you know that client satisfaction takes priority at our firm…

A clear understanding and empathetic response to the client’s review is a key step to completing our last part of what to do in response to negative reviews.

3. Resolve the Problem

Resolution, correcting what the client views as the problem, is the component of a negative review response that can set you apart from the competition. Now that you have the reviewer in your corner with an empathetic response, we can move forward to actually solving the problem.

If the resolution is simple, make an offer to fix it. If the coffee in your office was a bit cold, let your client know that the next cup is on the house.

If the resolution is not clear cut, offer to take the resolution offline in your response. Appropriate resolution sometimes requires a deeper conversation, and potential clients will see that you’re willing to go the extra mile to provide quality customer service.


Additional Tip: Get More Positive Reviews To Boost Your Review Average

Now that you know how to respond to negative reviews a question may be sticking in the back of your head. “What about my average review score?” This is where gaining more positive reviews can even the tide.

One of the best strategies to gaining positive reviews is to simply ask for them. If someone had a positive experience, ask them to share on your Facebook or Google page.

We understand that attorney’s often wear many hats, and workload may make it too busy to handle a full review’s strategy on your own.

FeedbackAutomatic can help with a fully automated reviews process. Positive feedback is prompted to be shared socially, while negative feedback triggers an email to you so that you can begin the steps we covered in today’s post.

If you are ready to get more online reviews and increase your ratings on sites like Facebook, Google, Avvo and more click here learn how FeedbackAutomatic can help!