By Chris Casseday
You already know that your firm needs online reviews, but what happens when you get a negative one? A variety of emotions may overtake you, anger usually being one of them. I believe that it is perfectly normal to get angered after someone says negative about you or your firm, but let’s talk about how to turn this into a positive [review] experience.
After the initial wave of emotions subsides, you have a few paths that you can go down. It is important to consider all of your options and then take the appropriate actions.
Flagging a Review for Removal
All of the top review sites for law firms provide an option to easily flag a review. In some cases, you can provide more information as to why you are flagging the review. For example, on Google My Business listings, if you flag a review you will then be asked to select the type of violation that applies to the review, and then you can submit your request. But other sites, like Avvo, only give you the option to flag the review; you do not have the opportunity to “state your case” in getting the review removed.
It is worth noting that just because you flag a review, it does not mean it will be removed. Negative reviews usually fall into two categories – 1.) Your client was genuinely not happy with the service that you provided or 2.) The review was left as a mistake or in an effort to negatively impact your firm. Even if you can prove that the negative reviewer was never a client of your firm that does not guarantee that the review will be removed. The reasoning behind this is so that businesses cannot remove legitimate negative reviews.
Responding to Reviews
After receiving a negative review your first inclination might be to fire right back, but I would encourage you to step away from the keyboard and take a deep breath. If you hammer out an angry response, it is only going to do more damage to your online presence. Other potential clients will probably get the wrong idea about your temperament and overall approach to doing business. Whether you deserved the negative review or not, do not let that person “win” and distract you from what matters most, which is professionally responding and moving on. When responding you should keep it professional, don’t accuse the reviewer of lying or trying to destroy your business.
I encourage you to respond to all of your reviews, both positive and negative. You will often see businesses only respond to negative reviews, because they want to defend themselves. However, responding to positive reviews is a healthy routine to get into because it helps to solidify your relationship with the reviewer and it also presents your firm in a way that shows genuine compassion for your clients. Don’t ask your client for a review and then ignore them after they leave you a review!
Impact of Review Star Ratings
Bright Local is an all encompassing reporting platform for local SEO and they often conduct detailed studies that provide valuable insights to local businesses and marketers. In a recent study, their team explored the impact that star ratings had on click through rate (the percentage comparing your site’s impressions and clicks in the search results). They found that a business’ overall star rating is the number one factor that consumers pay most attention to when evaluating businesses online. They also found that having a five-star rating earns a business 39% more clicks compared to a similar business with a one-star rating. Of course, you want to shoot for having all five-star reviews, but that is not realistic.
Get MORE Reviews!
Whether you’re trying to combat a recent negative or not, you should always be actively trying to get more online reviews. Having a large number of four and five-star reviews will help to dilute any negative reviews that you receive and it will set you up for success online.
TIP: Although Google reviews are the most important; do not exclusively focus your review efforts on these listings. You should focus on your entire web presence, and get reviews on other sites that show up on the first page of Google when searching for your name or firm name. Protect your referrals, and don’t lose the business that is already inclined to hire you!
You might think that all of this sounds great, but let’s be honest it takes time to monitor mentions and reviews for your firm online. We recommend that you automate some of this by using software to track and monitor all of the reviews that your firm has online. This also allows for you to respond to reviews efficiently. Let me know if you need help making this process more efficient and effective for your firm, I’d be happy to share a few tools and tips on what works best for our clients.