You can’t please everyone. This reigns true in life and in business, and no matter how successful your law firm is you may be faced with a negative online review at some point. Whether warranted or not, it is important to respond to the reviewer. One of the most important rules of law firm public relations is to get ahead of the story, and this applies to anything unfavorable said about your company. Though it may seem insignificant, one reviewer’s comment has the potential to be seen by hundreds of people, some of whom may be potential clients or customers. Here are some guidelines to effectively handle your law firm’s negative online reviews:
Use this as a way to flaunt your law firm’s strengths. Similar to a corporate job interview question asking you to state your biggest flaws, you have the opportunity to turn perceived faults into constructive strengths. If a customer’s negative review points out one of your law firm’s flaws, turn that into a positive. An example, “We’re truly sorry that our receptionist was unfriendly. Our law firm has been a trusted legal resource for hundreds of clients for more than 15 years, and each client is important to us. We apologize that we didn’t meet your expectations and would like to make it right. Please contact us at…” At Furia Rubel Communications we like to thank the reviewer for their input.
Do not ignore complaints. Always respond to negative reviews, no matter how incorrect you perceive them to be. When a reviewer is dissatisfied, not hearing back can spark additional negative responses. By responding, the law firm will come across as considerate and eager to please clients, often diffusing the fire and appeasing the reviewer.
Respond in a timely manner. At Furia Rubel Communications, we check reviews often. Staying on top of online reviews is crucial so that you can get back to reviewers with immediacy. When a reviewer is dissatisfied, not hearing back can often inflate any potential pre-existing anger. An immediate response once the issue is researched does not only placate the reviewer, but also the potential readers of the review.
Maintain professionalism. Even when you know the comment is incorrect, keep in mind the policy that the customer is always right. While you might want to engage in a verbal duel, resist the urge. Keep the responses calm, pleasant, and polite. Don’t get defensive. A non-confrontational statement beginning with, “I’m sorry you feel this way” empathizes with the customer and perpetuates your professionalism. Remain level-headed and validate their feelings.
Research the problem. It is easy to presume that the person writing the comment is incorrect. However, most likely the reviewer would not take the time to craft a negative review if he or she did not believe there was some truth to it. Look into the claim and take the time to prepare the response. Consult the other law firm members and gather all information first. If the constructive criticism was warranted, use the opportunity to address the issue internally. If no problem exists, remind employees to be mindful to stay on top of situations as they occur.
Do not remove the review. Resist the urge to take the negative review down. Removing it creates the impression that your law firm is hiding. A strategic marketing move is to show the public you care about the issue by providing feedback.
Online reviews are not always negative and can be great for your business. Many clients check out reviews before determining which law firm to choose or in Furia Rubel’s case, which public relations and marketing agency to hire. Request online feedback from clients, and in doing so be conscious of the wording you choose. Changing the language from ask to invite and review to feedback can provide better results. Remember, good reviews can convert leads in to customers.
Furia Rubel is experienced in handling the rules of engagement on social media sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. For more information on how we can help you market your law firm online, contact us today.