7 Effective Ways to Respond to a Negative Online ReviewPeople are not looking for perfection from you; what matters is how you address problems by being transparent, genuinely concerned and responding positively. Here are seven effective ways to address a negative online review:

1.  Contact the review site.

If the review is flagrantly false, defamatory or you can prove a disgruntled former employee or competitor submitted it, you can contact the review site and ask for its removal. Just be sure you can prove what you say. In my experience, it’s unlikely they will edit or remove the offending review, but it still doesn’t hurt to ask them to in a professional manner.

2.  Address the problem quickly, professionally and positively.

Respond directly to the review on the site and tell the reviewer you are sorry about their experience and that you want to correct the problem immediately. Be positive in your response! Let them know that while a vast majority of your clients have very positive experiences with your firm, it concerns you that there is one client who has been disappointed. Encourage them to contact you directly to try and resolve the issue. That shows other readers you are responsive and care about what people think.

Note: Yelp uses an algorithm to determine the “legitimacy” of reviews and often hides reviews in the filtered reviews section at the bottom of each page. Even legitimate, 5-star reviews can be found there, especially if they are from first-time reviewers. If that’s the case on your page, don’t be shy about drawing attention to these reviews in your commentary. Many people don’t know where to find the hidden reviews. This is another reason why I do not recommend you invest time asking people to review you on Yelp. Avvo is a much better platform for attorney reviews. LinkedIn is a great place if you are a B2B attorney.

3.  Try to fix the problem.

If there is some way for you to contact the reviewer directly, then do so. If you are not able to do this, then ask them in the comment thread to contact you so you can work with them on a satisfactory resolution.

4.  Ask for an updated review.

Don’t be shy about asking someone who posted an initial negative review to remove it or update it once they are satisfied that you have taken care of their problem. If they don’t do it, then provide your own commentary in the post thread that indicates the problem has been resolved.

5.  Set up a business page on multiple review sites.

There are over 100 different review sites. You should set up and maintain listings on all the major ones. Here are just a few: Google (very important), Avvo, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Merchant Circle, Yelp, Bing, City Search, Hotfrog, Superpages, Kudzu, Trip Advisor, Yellowbook, Dex Knows, Yellow Bot, Local, Best of the Web, Nolo and Four Square.

6.  Set up alerts.

Many of those sites allow you to set up an alert so you can be notified directly whenever a new review hits the site. In addition, set up an alert for your firm and each attorney on Google Alerts (https://www.google.com/alerts).

7. Proactively encourage client feedback.

Prevention is always cheaper than treatment! Be proactive in seeking out client feedback as you work the case, and conduct an exit interview following the conclusion of every client’s legal matter to ensure they have been satisfied with your services. Giving your client a direct voice in expressing any dissatisfaction may prevent them from taking it out on you online.

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How to Develop Your Law Firm Marketing PlanFREE Online Seminar:  How to Develop Your Law Firm Marketing Plan

Join Stephen Fairley for a free 60-minute legal marketing webinar: Develop Your Law Firm Marketing Plan, where you will learn…

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Creating a marketing plan for your law firm is the first step in building a foundation for a profitable future.  During this complimentary webinar, learn:

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There are several sessions of this free webinar scheduled — there is one tomorrow, June 23, at noon ET/9 a.m. PT — or you can choose a date that works best for you from the drop-down menu when you click on the following link to register online for our FREE Develop Your Law Firm Marketing Plan online seminar.