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You Got a Negative Online Review. Now What? (Part II)

(This is the second part of a two-part post regarding how to deal with negative online reviews about your law firm.  For Part I, click here.)

Ask the review site to remove the negative review.  Almost all review sites have community guidelines that prohibit hateful, threatening, or even unsubstantiated reviews.  If someone has posted a review that falls into one of these categories, it’s often possible to have that review taken down.

Well-written reviews that don’t use objectionable language are hard to get removed, but it never hurts to ask.  I’ve seen one of the most popular review sites remove a well-written negative review about an attorney along with all the positive reviews.  While it’s hard to understand why they would do that, it accomplished our goal… which was to eliminate the negative impact of the bad review on the practice.

Contact the client via phone if you can identify him or her, and try to work through the issue.  Also, even if you have to agree to disagree on the material issue, ask them to remove the review.   At that point, they have three options. They can leave it up as is, remove it, or perhaps add a supplemental post.  I’ve seen unhappy clients actually post a positive review about the lawyer contacting them later to work-out a problem.  This can go a long way with future potential clients, because it shows you care and are willing to go the extra mile to make a client happy.

(Note that I recommended contacting the person by phone, and not via written correspondence.  The reason?  Anything you write at this point may end up online, too.  Not only is it safer to have a verbal conversation about the issue, your tone may go a long way with the unhappy client, which is something that is often lost in emails and letters.)

Bury the negative review in positive ones.  If a TV you’re interested in buying has 95 positive reviews and 5 bad ones, what will you think?  Most review readers tend to dismiss a relatively small percentage of negative reviews when there is a high volume of good ones.  The same is true for professional services.  Good clients will recognize that some people are simply crazy, and their reviews usually give that away.  For those reviews that are well-written, it becomes more difficult to dismiss.  However, many readers will understand that, in the end, no business can please everyone all the time.

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