We are covering an important topic, what to do when the dreaded negative review arrives. You can’t control if someone goes onto the web and leaves a negative review for you, it’s part of the business, but you can control how you handle it once it’s there. What you do at that point can be just as important as gaining new positive reviews. 

Now we suggest three simple steps to handle when negative reviews come in on Yelp, Google, or wherever. They’re pretty simple. It’s react, respond, and resolve the situation. 

I do want to share with you a BrightLocal survey that notes that among the readers of reviews 97% of those people read the businesses’ responses to the reviews as well. It’s always a good thing to have positive reviews, we know that coming in, but responding to negative reviews can have as much of an impact as gaining positive ones. 

Before we cover the strategies on how to handle a negative review let’s discuss what not to do when dealing with a negative review. The first thing that you don’t want to do is ignore the review. When a negative review comes in it can be easy to stick your head in the sand and want the problem to go away, but ignoring it 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, you’re definitely going to want to take action. 

The second thing is if you do take action you do not want to argue or get defensive. You’re good at your job and it’s understandable to be upset about a negative review, but getting defensive will often lead to worse things online. So take a step back and look at the review with a fresh set of eyes. Often a client just wants to be heard and you can take this chance to respond positively. You’ll likely keep that client and signal to potential clients that you are a reasonable and responsible attorney who listens to what people have to say. 

There’s a number of other things people try to do whether they want to delete their review account, try to get the review removed, go on the offensive etc… we’ve heard it all. All of these responses are almost guaranteed to be a waste of time and effort. So instead focus on the ways react, respond, and resolve and we can turn this negative review into a positive opportunity. 

So what should you do to handle a negative review? The first thing we say is read and understand before you react. Like we mentioned before often the client just wants to be heard when leaving a negative review, something as small as five minutes in the waiting room can stick around in the back of their minds, so before you respond, even in a positive manner, make sure you full understand what the reviewer is trying to communicate so you can respond effectively. It can be difficult to decipher the true meaning of a message at first try so see the review from all angles, including the client’s, before drafting a response. 

When you do respond, 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 empathic response that will show the client that you understand where they are coming from. 

We actually have a quote from former FBI negotiator Chris Voss, he has an excellent book called 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 really need to be complicated, a quick example could be “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…” If you start your response with that clear understanding and empathy then the clients review will be a way for you to turn that negative into a positive and potential clients will see that as well. 

So now that we’ve responded we want to resolve the problem, and resolution, or correcting what the client views as the problem, is the component of a negative review that can set you apart from the competition. Now that you have the reviewer in your corner with the empathetic response we can move forward to solving the problem. So if it’s simple, let’s say the coffee was cold in your office, just let your client know that the next cup is on the house. If it’s not as clear cut, offer to take the resolution offline in your response. Oftentimes appropriate resolution requires a deeper conversation, and potential clients will see that you’re willing to go the extra mile to provide quality customer service. 

Now we do have an additional tip, responding can be great but you can be thinking, “Hey, what about my average score that shows on Google or other search engines?” and we do suggest getting more positive reviews to even the tide on that average score. One of the best strategies, and we say it often, is simply asking for reviews. If someone had a positive experience ask them to share it on Facebook or Google. 

We understand that you guys often wear many hats, the workload of an attorney can be really, really busy. So we do have Feedback Automatic that can help you with that. Our product helps positive feedback to be shared socially while negative feedback triggers an email that will take that feedback internally so you can reach out and respond and resolve the problem. So if you’re interested in Feedback Automatic click below, you can get some more information and we can talk to you about a demo at https://www.feedbackautomatic.com. I hope you learned something today, thanks for watching, and we’ll see you soon.