The dos and don’ts of handling negative attorney reviews

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Introduction

Critical online review can be damaging for professionals in all fields and the same extends to lawyers. Whether you’re part of a large firm or run your own solo practice, negative reviews can have a detrimental impact on your ability to attract new clients and retain existing clients. Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take to remove or suppress these negative reviews. The guide below will walk through the causes which lead to negative reviews and just how exactly can you handle them. Let’s get started!

Main reasons why people leave negative reviews

The first step in handling bad attorney reviews is by understanding why such reviews are posted in the first place. If and when you identify the reasons that lead to negative attorney reviews by clients, you can learn from your mistakes and refrain from making the mistakes which lead to negative reviews. Below are enlisted some of the main reasons why clients leave negative online attorney reviews.

  • Lack of transparency: – One of main reasons why clients leave negative reviews is lack of transparency as clients simply don’t understand what’s going on. Legal processes are complex and often clients don’t see the work that attorneys are doing for them. Sometimes lawyers are guilty of not simplifying the processes for the clients and this lack of transparency leads to misunderstandings.
  • Lack of responsiveness: – If you don’t respond to your clients in a timely manner, then this perceived lack of concern can take the form of negative online reviews. Often it happens that attorneys are so busy with their practice that they aren’t able to return phone calls and emails of their clients within a reasonable amount of time. Avoid negative reviews arising out of lack of responsiveness is pretty easy, just be responsive enough and do so regularly in a timely manner.
  • Unclear billing: – if your bills are unclear or too minimalistic, then you will surely have some negative reviews coming your way. If proceedings are dragging on longer than expected, suspicion may arise in the minds of customers related to billing. To avoid negative reviews arising out of such issues, you need to provide a much more detailed breakdown of the bill to your clients.
  •  Too conservative – If you take a conservative way out, your clients may feel that you’re taking the easy way out. They might feel they are getting short changed and hence to avoid this, you need to offer a clients a range of different options and let them make the risk calculation.

Common mistakes attorneys make while handling negative reviews

 No matter how diligently you run your practice, there is no foolproof way to remain immune to negative reviews all the time. Even when you are at your careful best, there are always chances of getting an odd negative review here and there. If you get such reviews, there are some ways to respond. Some of them are wrong, some of them are right. Here are some of the most common mistakes lawyers make while handling negative reviews.

  • Suing the review site -This is a common mistake because it is a legal precedent that an online service provider can’t be held liable for content posted by a user. Legal action isn’t likely to get the job done and you are better off with sending a request to take the review down.
  • Demanding the review to be deleted: – You will only be making your situation worse if you demand for the review to be taken down. If you make threats, there might be further backlash, as has happened with many attorneys in previous cases.
  • Avoiding the main issue: – If you get negative reviews centered on the same topic, there is a high chance that the problem is on your end. Take a look at the reviews and then scrutinize them to find out whether they are right or wrong. Make changes if it is appropriate to do so, otherwise you will continue to see reviews of a recurring theme coming your way.
  •   Public criticism: – Regardless of whether you are in the right or not, you should not publicly criticize the reviewer. It will reflect poorly on you and your image might take a hit. You will end up drawing more attention to the reviewer’s criticism.

Deleting negative reviews

 It won’t always be possible to get negative reviews deleted. The best you can do is to obscure such reviews with more positive reviews. That being said, there are a couple of situations in which you can get reviews deleted.

  •  Defamatory reviews: – If the review is defamatory and you can prove otherwise, you can get the review deleted. However, it may not be as easy as it seems and often the process is pretty complicated.
  • Terms of service violations: – Sometimes you might get reviews from people who have never been your customers and have availed of your services. Since such reviews are mostly off topic they violate the review site’s terms of service. It makes for a very solid case to get such reviews removed by filing an official complaint with the review site. Additionally, if you can prove that a review has been written by a competitor, you can also get it taken down.

Suppressing reviews which can’t be deleted

 Since it has already been mentioned that you won’t be able to get all reviews deleted, there is another way out. You can minimize the impact of the bad reviews by burying them in positive reviews. The best way is to encourage reviews out of your satisfied and existing clients. Here are some ways in which you can encourage reviews from your clients:

  • Send a person to your loyal clients and ask them to write a review. Many of them would be willing to do so. Don’t coerce them into giving positive reviews. Just ask them to share their honest opinion that would be useful to others.
  • Send clients links to review profiles which they can use to quickly post a review. When you simplify the entire process of getting reviews, you will see a lot of reviews coming your way. Often times, people shy away from posting reviews because the entire process seems too cumbersome for them.

 The Bottom Line

 The aforementioned guide will help you in understanding why negative reviews happen and what you do to handle them. You can choose to implement such tips on your own or you can hire expert brand reputation management services of an online reputation management agency for better outcomes. Whatever approach you choose, it is imperative that you handle negative reviews in an efficient manner because they are very crucial for the sustenance and growth of your business. 

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