Got a Negative Review? Why You Need to Reply, Not IgnoreWhen was the last time you bought something, booked a hotel or made a restaurant reservation online without checking the reviews? If you say that you never check reviews, you are either guilty of misrepresentation (fancy lawyer word for fibbing) or you are a very rare bird indeed.

If you are an attorney who serves consumers, the question is NOT if you will get a negative review but WHEN you will.

Your first step is to be sure you know about any negative reviews, so be sure you have a Google Alert set up with the name of your firm and each employee. Then follow these tips:

Have as many positive reviews as possible. Most of us who make an online purchase do check the reviews, and read both the good and the bad. If there are more good than bad, we usually make the purchase. This is because we all know that no matter what product or service is sold, there will always be someone who is not happy. So as long as we see more positive reviews than negative ones, we usually still invest in that product or service.

Recognize that it is just feedback. Maybe there is a blind spot in your firm that you are not aware of and by asking people to review you and give their honest feedback, you have the opportunity to grow, learn and improve the client experience. Although the experience can be painful, it is necessary if you really want to wow the client and build a lifestyle law firm.

Don’t ignore a negative review, address it quickly and professionally. Let the individual know you are sorry they are not happy and will do everything in your power to make it right. Let them know that although you have worked with hundreds of clients who are happy with your services, to hear that there is even just one who is unhappy upsets and concerns you.

Josh King, general counsel at Avvo.com, has this advice for attorneys on how to turn a negative review into a positive marketing opportunity:

“By posting a professional, meaningful response to negative commentary, an attorney sends a powerful message to any readers of that review. Done correctly, such a message communicates responsiveness, attention to feedback, and strength of character. The trick is to not act defensive, petty, or feel the need to directly refute what you perceive is wrong with the review.”

Realize that people are not looking for perfection from you; what matters is how you address problems by being transparent, genuinely concerned and responding positively.

And remember that 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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