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Why Bad Reviews Are Good for Your Business

Professional business reviews

We get it: online reviews are tricky.

They’re almost like a game of Battleship. You have to tread carefully and provide all your services perfectly without a flaw, lest a client leave a one-star review. Right?

Not necessarily. Your firm should do its best to gain and retain clients, but you don’t actually have to worry about the effect that someone’s negative review will have on your business.

Negative reviews survey

In fact, bad reviews are extremely useful for your law firm to attract and earn clients, as long as you go about the process genuinely and appropriately.

Still skeptical? This graph says it all – negative reviews are not the smoking gun of a failing business. In fact, their presence may signify that a law firm is healthy, competent, and focused on creating meaningful client relationships.

Here are four ways your law firm can benefit from negative reviews, researched and fact-checked by EverSpark.

1. You’ll appear more credible.

Your client left a negative review of your firm online, but why? You were courteous, communicative, and thought everything went smoothly…how could they be unhappy?

You may be shocked after receiving a bad review, but one thing you shouldn’t be is anxious. Here’s why: no one trusts perfection, but everyone trusts honesty.

If a potential client visits your website and sees one or more negative reviews, research suggests that they are five times more likely to interact with your website. Long story short: clients want to find out why someone left a bad review because this helps them decide whether or not to use your services.

Eighty-two percent of shoppers are looking for negative reviews; consumers under 45 are more likely to seek negativity at 86%.

After noticing one less-than-sparkling comment, potential clients will seek out positive reviews and learn more about your company. This is basically free marketing; if someone is looking for a service for which they’ll need to spend money, they’ll research and put time into finding the right lawyer. They’ll spend more time on your site and are more likely to perceive your firm as credible, building confidence in their decision to hire you.

Trusted star ratings

Four-star reviews beat out every other number, even five stars, in ReviewTracker’s 2018 Online Survey. This means that each four-star rated law firm had at least one “bad” review, but potential clients trusted them more.

Conversion probability peaks when a product or service’s average star rating is between 4.2 and 4.5

People with 4 star rating

After all, what clients are really looking for is a well-rounded, comprehensive idea of the firm they may work with, bad parts included. Clients are smart — they’re wary of other reviewers, especially if they’ve seen a fake review firsthand.

Ninety-five percent of customers think that reviews may be censored or fake if there’s no negative feedback.

That number is huge for law firms. It speaks to the fact that people trust online reviews about as much as recommendations from friends and family. Just like you wouldn’t doubt a friend’s opinion because they had one or two bad things to say, potential clients will consider hiring your firm even with a couple of less-than-perfect remarks.

2. Clients will trust you.

From a client perspective, there’s nothing more frustrating than being ignored. Imagine hiring someone for their services and being unsatisfied with the result. You leave a suggestion for them online, but you never hear back. Days, then weeks go by and you haven’t received an email, phone call, or any kind of response to your online review.

Now you’re questioning the firm’s services and client awareness. Do they even care if someone leaves a bad review? Why wouldn’t they even bother to send a short message back?

Here’s a tip: Don’t make that mistake. Once you lose client trust by failing to communicate, that trust is difficult to earn back.

But it is possible.

Lawyer and client shaking hands

This is where your response comes in. A client’s willingness to hire your firm doubles when they see your response to negative reviews, not just the negative comment itself.

Seventy percent of dissatisfied clients will do business with a company again if their complaint is resolved.

Clients aren’t always happy, but as in other areas of life, how you respond matters. You will earn client trust if you reply to their concerns with kindness and sincerity. Here are some tips to deal with negative client reviews:

  • Respond promptly.

No more than 48 hours should pass between the time you notice a negative review and your response. Demonstrating a sense of urgency will help build trust among your clients, but remember to take the time to craft a personal, well-written response. A cheap apology that you cranked out in one minute won’t help anyone.

Businesses respond to negative reviews

At the very least, clients expect a swift reply to their suggestions. Over 50% of survey respondents said that they expect a business to respond to their negative review within a week.

  • Address the issue.

Don’t deny or aggressively defend yourself and don’t beat around the bush. Inserting your opinion when someone is just trying to make a suggestion shows a lack of respect and will make other potential clients doubt your integrity.

Acknowledge the issue, thank them for their feedback, and engage them by asking for their email or phone number. You can take the conversation offline and offer help or clear up a misunderstanding.

  • Improve your service.

This is the big one. You should not only respond to reviews, but genuinely consider the feedback and take action where it is needed. Sometimes, client reviews can point to a longstanding issue in your firm. They can offer a solution that your firm hadn’t thought of.

And remember to keep the client updated. Whether or not they answer your email or call, respond to the review where it was published and inform the commenter of the changes your firm has made.

Eighty-eight percent of people say that their preferred response from a company is to fix the issue at hand and then contact them regarding the solution.

3. You can prevent further negativity.

Among those who write negative reviews are what we call critical clients. These are people who, unsatisfied with the response they receive from a business, take further action against the business. For example, if a law firm fails to respond to a review, the former client may not come back, or they might tell friends and family to avoid the business.

Trustpilot’s survey found that 69% of critical client responders would never do business again if they were dissatisfied with the firm’s response. Half would warn people about the business, and 33% would edit their existing review to voice their displeasure at the firm’s response.

To avoid a former client taking further action against your firm, follow these steps:

  • Be available.

This is a simple solution. The key to preventing negative client reviews is to be prepared and available as much as you possibly can. Making yourself available means they’ll go to you to vent or voice concerns instead of the internet.

Seventy-six percent of people say that phone calls are their preferred method of communication.

You can make yourself more available to clients by clearly stating your firm’s hours on
your website’s homepage or other conspicuous location. You can also add more lines of communication, including social media.

Let your clients know what the best method of communication is for you. If you check email 40 times a day but never log on to Facebook, let them know so they won’t send you a Facebook message and get frustrated when you don’t respond quickly.

  • Be personal.

Remember that your law firm is a business. That means you should always have the client experience in mind. You should never send pre-generated, shallow responses to their genuine questions or concerns. That type of communication is not valuable to clients and could make them take further action against your firm. Even though it may take a little time, crafting a unique response makes people feel, well, like people.

Woman reading letter from attorney

Try to make your clients feel understood and appreciated. Remember to thank them for taking the time to bring something to your attention.

  • Encourage reviews.

When a client has a positive experience at your firm and decides to write a review, they’re more likely to share that comment on other review websites, social media, and through word of mouth. In other words, reviews help you gain visibility.

Request to write a review

Another reason to encourage feedback from clients is that you can better conceal one negative review among a number of good reviews. If you ask satisfied clients with whom you have a lasting relationship to leave a review, they will almost certainly write positive messages.

Seventy percent of clients will leave a review if you ask them.

4. You’ll be in touch with your clients’ needs.

We’ve established that negative reviews don’t necessarily turn potential clients away. In fact, you can use negative reviews to your advantage by learning from clients and anticipating what future clients want and need.

More often than not, the client experience begins and ends online. In fact, nearly half of people research their legal issue on the internet before hiring a lawyer. If you want your firm to be successful, you’ll need to make a lasting impression online. That means you need to anticipate what and when potential clients are searching and what they’ll do when they access your site.

Before they hire you:

  • Ensure that your website loads quickly and is well-designed and organized. If a client can’t find the information they need easily, they’ll just go to another lawyer’s page.
  • Include a biographical page on your site. Okay, it doesn’t need to be a biography, but you should include a photo and a short description of your firm and its history. People like to see and relate to the person they may be working with.

Here’s some other helpful information you can include on your site that intuits clients’ needs:

  • Pricing/rates/fee structure.
  • Past case results.
  • Legal information about the issue or situation you are in.
  • Endorsements from a judge or retired judge.

Impact hiring decision for lawyers

Finally, while you’re working with them, keep a consistent level of communication. Don’t disappear on your clients or make them seek you out constantly, but don’t bombard them with a ton of information all at once. It’s a fine balance.

Let Us Help Your Law Firm

Yes, bad reviews suck. They can be hurtful, nerve wracking, and frustrating. Law firms work hard to deliver for their clients, so a negative comment can feel like an online betrayal.

It doesn’t have to be that way. Think about the positive elements of negative reviews –

  • Your firm will increase its credibility.
  • Your clients will trust you more.
  • You can prevent further negativity.
  • You’ll be more in tune with what your clients need.

Taking a negative review at face value will cause frustration and resentment toward the person who wrote the comment. But taking a negative review for what it could do – helping you create a more positive environment, engaging the people you value most, and helping your firm excel in your practice areas – will make the biggest difference to you and your future clients.

If you need advice or assistance dealing with negative client reviews, contact EverSpark Interactive. We have over a decade of experience working closely with lawyers to grow their practice and dominate the industry. We’ve seen every review imaginable, and we know how to make them work for your firm.

Remember, the client may not always be right, but the client is always right there. Be kind, be communicative, and be honest.