What to do about a 1-star review


Ugh, bad reviews. You don’t want to think about them, you just wish they would go away. But they don’t go away, you have to do something about them. 

There’s too much at stake if you don’t. 

Don’t do what one lawyer did. When a client accused him of scamming her, sued him, and posted a scathing 1-star review, the lawyer threated to sue her for defamation if she didn’t remove it. 

In response, the client updated her review and noted the threat. That’s when all hell broke loose.  

Her review was repeatedly upvoted and went viral. The lawyer started getting “random 1-star reviews harassing him from everywhere” and, according to the client, the lawyer became “a laughing stock”. 

Note to self: don’t become a laughing stock. It’s bad for business.

So, what is the best way to handle a bad review? 

Right, do your job and do it well so clients write 5-star reviews. 

Still, bad reviews happen, and when they do, you shouldn’t ignore them.

It’s not like someone left a bad review on your book. You have (had) a relationship with the client, and not only is that worth saving, your history with them potentially makes that easier to do. 

You know the case, the client, and what buttons shouldn’t be pushed. 

But you can’t write or email the client, you have to talk to them.  

That might lead to shouting or more unpleasantness, and it might make things worse, but you have to try. 

That means you have to apologize. 

Even if you don’t think you did anything wrong. Even if the client is being unreasonable. Even if you really don’t want them back. 

Find something to apologize for because you’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t.

Maybe you didn’t explain things as well as you could. Maybe you read the wrong signals or made assumptions you shouldn’t have made. Or maybe you allowed your other work or a personal situation to distract you. 

Don’t make excuses. Take the blame, say you’re sorry and fix it. Even if hurts to do that, because losing a client can hurt you more. 

Strange as it might seem, studies show that no matter how much a client is upset with a lawyer, if that lawyer makes amends (apologizing, fixing), that client will often become a lifelong client and one of the lawyer’s biggest fans. 

Maybe because they feel guilty. 

Anyway, once you’ve kissed and made up, you can ask them to upgrade or remove their review. But they might do that on their own.  

No, not every client will accept your apology or your offer to fix things. When you’ve got a stinker and the client won’t talk to you, some review sites allow the reviewee to post a response, explaining their side of the story. Should you? 

No. Either let it go or ask the client (in your response) to contact you to discuss the situation in private. 

Take the conversation “offline”. 

Whether or not the client agrees to do that, at least you’ll be showing others who read the review (and your response) that you’re being reasonable and trying to make things right. 

Which is a lot better than threatening litigation and making things (much) worse.