Responding to negative Reviews: How to turn the negative into a positive
It’s inevitable, you’re going to get a negative review online. The internet is a free-for-all of client commentary and unfortunately, people are more likely to post about a negative experience than a positive one.
As a business owner and operator it can be difficult to decide whether to respond to these comments, and in what fashion a response should be given.
Warren Buffet famously once said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.”
Luckily, there are a few steps you can take to ensure that you respond in a way that is effective and honest.
Determine the legitimacy of the negative review.
It is important to know if the concerns the reviewer is expressing are factual. There have been instances of fake reviews that have been completely made up and designed to harm a business’s reputation. If you suspect a negative review to be falsified, you need to report it to the site administrator. There are efforts that can be made to have the review removed, but you need to be able to provide proof of the falsities.
Address the review quickly.
Once you determine whether or not the review is legitimate, you need to address the reviewers concerns in a timely manner. A quick response shows that a business cares about their reputation, that they are on top of all matters related to their vocation and that they have nothing to hide.
Apologize, but don’t admit to wrongdoing.
Consider your response to be an opportunity for you to show off your character and commitment to customer service. It is important to be sympathetic to the reviewers feelings. Whether completely truthful or not, as attorneys we are dealing with people during some of the most difficult times in their lives so emotions are running high. Offer an apology, but be brief.
Shift the conversation away from the public eye.
Make yourself available. Offer the reviewer an opportunity to discuss their grievances with you via telephone, email, or even in person. If an upset client is given the chance to vent directly to you, as opposed to online for the world to see, they might be less likely to continue to post negative reviews on your profiles. It is also important to remember that unlike the majority of businesses, lawyers are bound by a code of conduct and binding agreements about privacy.
Learn from the review
Receiving negative feedback can be an incredible opportunity to show your capability for learning and growth. Own it, and hone it. If there is truth to the review, and you seem to be receiving that particular complaint often, then it is important that you make the changes necessary to fix the issue.