Online Reviews…The Good, Bad and Ugly

There are so many ways for clients to tell everyone they know about you, and thanks to the Internet, they can even tell people they don’t know!  This is great if the things they’re saying make you look good.  If they’re posting negative reviews and comments, however, it can feel like a punch in the gut to someone running their own small firm.

So, what do you do if someone is trying to sabotage your legal marketing plan by saying nasty things on Yelp, their blog, or your Facebook page?

First, don’t panic.  This is a time to keep your cool, because how you respond is more important than whatever this person had to say in the first place.  Keep in mind that even though this negative comment is out there, it is certainly not the only thing out there.  It is one person’s opinion in a sea of opportunities for you to present yourself as you’d like.  It’s annoying and infuriating, but it is not the end of the world.

Once you’re calmed down, not just pretending to be calmed down—take a day or two if you need to, you can plan how to respond.  Because of their background, a lot of lawyers jump right to the idea of writing a cease and desist letter.  There are some problems with this.  For one thing, it could theoretically add legitimacy to whomever made the claim against you.  It can also be really hard to even find out who made the comment as so many of those things are done anonymously.  And in the grand scheme of things, the letter might not even work.

With the idea of a letter considered and thrown away, you can now look at actually responding to the comment.  Most of the review sites will allow you a way to respond to the negative comment.  In doing so, you don’t want to come off as anything but professional.  You can use the opportunity to explain your side of the situation—oftentimes the individual is mad that they lost their case, not because there is actually anything wrong with you—but do it in a calm, rational way that doesn’t sound overly defensive.  If the person responds back, make a point to only engage if you can do so calmly and in a way that shows you in your best light.  Remember, too, that there’s no rule saying you have to respond at all.

Finally, consider asking your clients, colleagues, and supporters to visit the site and leave their own feedback. This will “bury” the negative comment down to a lower position that will probably not be seen by many.  In addition, when you have a bunch of five-star ratings or comments about your professionalism, it shows that the negative comment is not par for the course and is likely coming from someone who is bitter.

A bad review here or there isn’t going to completely destroy your legal marketing efforts.  If you find that you are getting a lot of negative reviews, however, it may be necessary to take a look at what you’re doing and make some changes.