How Law Firms Can Respond Productively and Gracefully to Negative Client Reviews

As a smaller law firm, it’s essential to respond to negative client reviews with grace and poise. Composing thoughtful responses underscores your firm’s commitment to prioritizing the client experience.

As an attorney, client satisfaction drives your business. Law firms that prioritize the needs of their clients tend to attract a more robust stream of clients, while those that take a more distant and impersonal approach often struggle to grow their legal practices. Before the explosion of the internet, most law firms relied on traditional print advertising and word-of-mouth referrals to bring in new clients. However, the overwhelming majority of people begin looking for an attorney by performing a Google search. As they peruse the list of search results, they will likely gravitate toward the law offices with the most favorable online reviews. Most potential clients rely on these reviews to determine whether to enlist the services of a particular law firm. Understandably, client reviews play a crucial role in growing your law practice, as they have the power to impact the overall health and future of your business. As you focus on gathering reviews from your clients, it’s natural to dread the (somewhat inevitable) appearance of a negative review. Receiving a less-than-stellar review can be devastating and concerning, but it does not signal the end of the world. Instead, you can use this experience to show off your commitment to client satisfaction, gradually turning a dicey situation into a favorable one. Let’s take a look at how your law firm can respond with poise and grace to negative reviews, ultimately cementing your reputation as a client-centered, responsive, and trustworthy law practice.

Resisting the Temptation to Respond Too Quickly

The minute you become aware of a former client posting a negative review, you may feel the sudden urge to fire off a heated response. Unfortunately, responding too quickly often backfires, as your retort will likely seem defensive, petty, or even aggressive. Instead, take some time to absorb the client’s words. Try to think beyond the words and phrases themselves to understand the core of their concerns. The vast majority of negative reviews come from a place of wanting to feel heard and validated. In fact, many people who leave negative feedback are struggling with several other emotions and issues in their lives, the effects of which may be directed into their posts about your legal services. When you take some time to cool off and identify what the person is truly looking for, you can craft a more strategic and effective response that makes them feel heard (and, ultimately, shows other potential clients that you genuinely care about your clients).

Responding With Professionalism and Grace

Now that we’ve covered how not to respond to less-than-favorable client reviews let’s explore some of the most strategic ways that your law firm can address and resolve negative posts. Below are a few simple tips for handling unfavorable client reviews, including some examples of effective responses you can use whenever a poor review arises.

Invite the Reviewer to Have an Offline Conversation

As we’ve already discussed, most people who leave unfavorable reviews simply want to feel heard and acknowledged. With this in mind, you can craft a response that tells the reviewer that you’ve read their review and you are interested in learning more about their concerns in greater detail. Invite them to continue the conversation offline, either by phone or in person. For example, a sample response may read, “We are sad to hear that you had a negative experience with our firm. We encourage you to call our office to discuss your concerns with us in greater detail so that we can make things right.” Not only will this response show the person who left the review that you care about what they have to say, but it will also illustrate your commitment to improving the client experience when other potential clients read through your online reviews. They will see that you took the time to follow up with an unsatisfied client, which will likely encourage a potential client to enlist your services because you care about customer satisfaction.

Personalize Each Response to Client Reviews

Some businesses use a generic response that automatically comments whenever someone writes an online review. Unfortunately, this tactic can make the business seem distant and uninterested in prioritizing customer satisfaction. For example, if every response reads something like, “Thank you for your feedback. Please call our team to lodge a complaint,” then potential clients and other site viewers may think that you do not take feedback seriously. Instead, take some time to craft a thoughtful response that addresses the reviewer’s specific concerns (i.e., “Thank you for sharing your concerns, Mary. We are sorry to hear that you had a negative experience with us. Would you be interested in talking more about this matter on the phone? We would really appreciate the opportunity to make things right”). A little personalization can go a long way in building your reputation as a trustworthy law firm that cares about forging meaningful client relationships.

Keep Responses Brief and Effective

Although it’s important to write personalized responses, be mindful of overexplaining yourself. There is no need to write several paragraphs in response to a bad review; in fact, going into too much detail runs the risk of making your law firm seem too defensive or unprofessional. Additionally, including too much information may violate privacy and confidentiality laws and ethical codes of conduct. The most effective responses to online reviews are brief, authentic, and compact. If there is a need to discuss a client’s case or experience in greater detail, conduct this conversation offline.

Respond to Positive Reviews, Too

While this post focuses primarily on how your law firm can handle negative feedback, it’s essential to understand that responding to positive client reviews is equally important. Many law firms assume that positive reviews speak for themselves, but taking the time to respond with a simple “Thank you!” underscores your firm’s commitment to providing excellent service to every client. Ultimately, every client who takes the time to write a review should be acknowledged in some way.

For over a decade, the dedicated team at LegalRev has been helping smaller law firms grow their practices and achieve their digital marketing goals. Call (800) 893-2590 today to learn more about how we can help you level up your marketing efforts.

November 10, 2023