Editor’s Note: Last week, Ken Hardison discussed the new rules of Google Reviews that affect how your law firm can ask clients for online reviews. In this week’s guest post, Tanner Jones from Consultwebs will tell you how your law firm should deal with negative reviews.
Online reviews have become the modern-day word of mouth. Nine out of ten people use online reviews to make decisions about products and service providers — a statistic that should get any lawyer’s attention who relies on the Internet to generate a percentage of the case sign-ups each year.
Just like positive reviews will encourage people to call you, negative reviews will often turn them away, or at least cause them to approach you with skepticism. As consumers browse reviews today, they tend to gravitate right to the negative one-star and two-star reviews to see what those experiences were like. Potential clients want to see if there are issues that pop up more than once or any commonalities among the negative reviews. When people notice more negative reviews than positive or negative reviews that continue to point to a specific issue, this will most surely turn away certain potential clients from contacting your firm.
What can your firm do to make sure negative reviews are not impacting your case load?
First, it is important to ensure you have a process of routinely monitoring the reviews your firm is getting online. One of the most popular places to leave and read reviews is Google. To monitor these reviews, you can easily set up a Google alert with your name and the name of your firm to be alerted when someone is posting something about you on Google. Or, simply search your firm name in Google and check the reviews listed.
Another popular site for reviews is Facebook. Reviews for businesses of all types are becoming more and more popular and trusted on Facebook. Other review sites that you need to check regularly for reviews, in addition to Google and Facebook, are Yelp, Avvo.com, and Lawyers.com, Martindale.com and Superpages.com. Also, employee reviews will often be found on sites like Glassdoor, Indeed and Kununu.com (e.g., search ‘your law firm name + glassdoor’ in Google).
As you monitor the negative reviews your law firm receives, you need to make sure to put them into appropriate categories. Are the reviews pointing out a specific problem? Are they offering constructive criticism (this may take a minute to “sink in” and consider with an open mind)? Or, are they a troll, seeming to be extremely negative or trying to be belligerent and start a fight? Typically, your 1 and 2 Star negative reviews will fit into one of these three categories. Once you know what category a review fits in, you can move on and decide whether to engage with the reviewer.
Responding to Negative Reviews
If a review is pointing out a specific problem with your firm, it may be best to handle the resolution offline. Have someone in your firm who is great at conflict resolution reach out to the person who left the review.
By positively engaging with the reviewer one-one-one, your firm will have a better chance at getting the situation diffused or resolved. Once the issue is resolved, the best case scenario is that the reviewer will choose to pull the negative review. If they do not want to pull the review completely, ask if they will comment on the original review and let people know that the problem has been resolved.
If a review has been left anonymously with a name not in your system, your firm may want to respond publicly, letting the reviewer know that you do not have records of their case based on the reviewer’s name and state that you are dedicated to resolving the issue. Leave a number where they can reach out and contact you to discuss a solution.
Responding to Constructive Feedback
Some negative reviews will fall into the category of clients offering constructive criticism.
Constructive criticism could be something about systems your firm uses, customer service issues, or something else the reviewer noticed about your firm that left them unsatisfied. It is important to watch constructive criticism reviews and see if the same issues are recurring. If something is popping up in numerous reviews, it may be time to look internally at your firm and see if this is an issue that can be changed or improved for a better customer experience. When you engage with constructive criticism reviews, it is usually helpful to engage with them publicly. First, respond to the review, thanking the person for leaving the review. Let them know that your firm is always looking to improve the client experience. If there is something specific your firm is doing differently or has plans to do differently about the issue, make sure to include that in your response.
Responding to Trolls
The third category of reviews are reviews that are extremely negative, belligerent, or seem like they are trying to start a never-ending argument. These reviewers are commonly referred to as internet trolls. It is best to not respond to these reviews because, most of the time, trolls are just looking to engage in a fight. If and when you engage, often there is no positive outcome because there is nothing to really resolve and the troll will continue to argue. Your firm will not come out of it looking professional and appealing to potential clients.
Sometimes, you can try and contact the review platform and ask them to pull the review. This doesn’t always work because the platform will want you to prove why the review is unsubstantiated and often it is highly unlikely they will pull reviews at all. If the review cannot be removed, it is best just to ignore those reviews.
The good news is that most people browsing your reviews will see and understand when people are being trolls and will ignore those reviews as they are researching your firm. The best counter for negative reviews is having more positive reviews.
Negative reviews can have a damaging effect on your law firm. But, they can also be helpful. For one, negative reviews can sometimes point out things you can improve within your law firm. Second, when you monitor your reviews and engage with reviewers appropriately, you are making past clients happier with your firm and you are showing potential clients that you are committed to make sure your client experience is outstanding. Discerning people who are researching your firm will recognize this and be more likely to contact you with their legal needs. Even though no one likes to get negative reviews about their business, view these inevitable reviews as an opportunity to “listen and learn” and leverage them to improve and grow your practice.
Live Training w/ Tanner Jones – May 24th!
On our May 2018 Sponsored Webinar Training, Tanner Jones will be discussing voice search for law firms and how you can can capitalize on this new trend in search.
Click the button below and register for the training, Alexa, Where’s My Law Firm?
About the Author
Tanner Jones serves as Vice President of Business Development for Consultwebs. Consultwebs is a law firm-focused Web marketing company that fosters professional, long-term relationships built on trust, integrity, high quality and results. He’s often one of the first contacts clients have with Consultwebs. He helps law firms develop their marketing strategies like: search marketing campaigns, paid advertising campaigns, responsive website design, and social media to help grow their caseload and business.
Tanner has spoken and presented at legal marketing seminars throughout the country including the our PILMMA summits, APITLA, M&L Legal Marketing conferences and co-hosted educational marketing webinars with AVVO, PILMMA and The Rainmaker Institute. He has been featured in Lawyers Weekly and Attorney at Law publications, as well as many other online legal publications throughout the country.