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Because negative reviews can so easily snowball into massive PR crises, you want to nip bad press in the bud. However, even though there is a lot riding on each negative review, you should maintain a cool head and respond appropriately. If you don’t effectively manage your public relations, your involvement could end up making the problem worse. Keep these ideas in mind when you respond to a negative review, and always think before you type.
The customer should not be made to feel at fault for coming to your law firm for help. Do not give in to a sense of entitlement. Instead, apologize for the negative feelings engendered by their interaction with your firm and ask if there is anything you can do to improve their experience with you. Request that they tell you what, specifically, they did not like and take the information under advisement. If their suggestion is not implementable, say so, but still thank them for their patronage.
Sometimes a dissatisfied customer just needs to vent. Maybe she was having a bad day when a minor problem happened — if you are a real estate attorney, chances are you have had someone get angry with you when their house closing was delayed due to a decision made by a bank, not you. Maybe the customer has a legitimate complaint, in which case you should listen to what they say and take it to heart. Either way, when responding to a negative review, your reply should be short and sweet. Anything over three sentences might be perceived as overbearing.
If nothing else, you and the dissatisfied client should agree to disagree. The problem is the tension in the attorney-client relationship, and the solution is a reasonable attempt on your part to come to consensus. Remember that your main audience consists of people who view the interaction weeks, months or even years later.
Bloggers or negative reviewers, bolstered by your response to their criticism, may choose to make broad statements about your law firm, your philosophy, or even your personal life. As much as you might like to respond and “change minds,” a response to a negative review is not the place to do it. Keep bringing conversation back to the topic at hand.
Got all that down? Good! What you can do is covered in Part 8 of CaseDetail.com’s Reputation Management series, so check back soon for more advice.