Control the Narrative: 4 Tips for Responding to Negative Reviews

As much as you may try to be, you’re not going to be perfect. Some clients will inevitably be unsatisfied after working with you—possibly through no fault of your own! Now with social media, people have an outlet to air their grievances without even having to talk to you about it first, which has caused problems for small business owners all over the world.

So what do you do when a disgruntled client who may be reacting emotionally and irrationally goes on your Google, Facebook, or Yelp listing and leaves a negative review? You certainly do NOT ignore it. Instead, do this:

1. Act fast

According to ReviewTrackers, 33% of people expect a response in 3 days or less. More than half expect a response within a week. As soon as a review comes in, you need to be aware of it and make a plan to respond.

2. Read the entire review first

It can be very easy to get caught up in the drama and stop reading after the first sentence or two based on what the review says and how you feel about it. However, carefully reading and analyzing the entire review can help you understand and potentially empathize with where that unhappy client is coming from. It can also help you point out holes in their argument that you can address.

3. Personalize your responses

Don’t have a template response that everyone—happy or unhappy—receives. Instead, personalize your responses by first using the person’s name in the greeting and mentioning elements of their review that you’re addressing. Even if the rest of your response is to encourage them to contact your office to resolve the issue, personalizing the response lets them know that you actually read their review and are making an effort to address it.

4. Find a way to make things right

If something went wrong, own it. Apologize and do whatever you need to do to resolve the issue. You don’t need to make a public display of it. You can simply explain what went wrong and tell the reviewer to expect an email or phone call from you to discuss it further. Once everything is resolved, you can see if the client will remove or edit their negative review to acknowledge that action was taken, or you can add another response outlining the resolution so the public knows you took action.

Conversely, if the reviewer truly is acting irrationally and trying to pick a fight, calmly explain the situation and still offer to have a private conversation to see if you can come to some sort of resolution. Either way, don’t get into a public argument and don’t respond to anger with more anger. At best, you can use the negative feedback to illuminate broken processes or other issues in your firm.

Lastly, don’t take it personally. You’re not going to win 100% of your clients over, especially if you’re working with their money or handling high-stakes legal issues. There are some people out there who will never truly be satisfied. Negative reviews will come, but you can use them to your advantage to highlight your client experience and show the rest of the world that one or two negative experiences are not truly indicative of what it’s like to work with you and your firm.

The following two tabs change content below.

Spotlight Branding

Spotlight Branding is a content marketing and branding firm for lawyers and other professionals. Our goal is to help you create an online presence that positions you as a credible expert in your field, keeps you connected with your network in order to stay top of mind and increase referrals, and to become more visible online so prospects can find you!