How to handle negative reviews and comments

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I just read a post on the subject of dealing with negative comments on sites like Yelp and social media. The author says, in a nutshell, that if the statement is factually untrue, and you can prove it, you can ask the site to remove it. If it is an opinion, the author says to, “add a comment to the post explaining your rational [sic] in a non-hostile way and how you plan on addressing the situation.”

I disagree. I would not respond to negative reviews in a public forum. Doing so only invites more negative comments, from the original poster or from others who side with him or see the need to defend him.

An opinion is an opinion. If they didn’t like something, they didn’t like it. Right or wrong, it’s their opinion. Any efforts to defend or explain yourself will only make you look bad. As much as it might hurt, it’s almost always best to ignore these comments, at least publicly.

If you can identify the client who made the post, reach out to them privately. See if you can resolve the issue. Apologize, make amends, offer satisfaction. Do what you can to win back the client, or at least make them see that their public comment was too harsh and retract or amend it.

The author recommends encouraging visitors to the site or thread to contact you privately by email, so you can respond to questions or comments. I’m not sure that’s a good idea. You want people to communicate with you, of course, and that includes negative comments. But if you “make an appearance” on the forum or in the thread to extend this invitation, you leave readers wondering why you didn’t respond to the negative comment(s).

The better way to handle this is before it occurs. Make sure your clients and others who engage with you and your staff are openly and repeatedly encouraged to contact you if they have any questions or concerns. Let them know that if they are unhappy about anything, you want to hear about it. Set up mechanisms that make it easy for people to contact you, even anonymously. And remind them to do so. When people know they can blow off steam directly to you, they may be a little less likely to do it publicly.

One thing the author of this post and I agree on, if you do have negative comments, ask some of your happy clients to post positive comments. If you have enough positive comments, you can effectively bury the negative ones. People are smart. If you have twenty positive comments and one that is critical, most people will put things in context.

I know many attorneys resist getting involved with social media and review sites like Yelp because they don’t want to invite negative comments. But these will occur, if they occur, regardless of your involvement. The better course of action is to be proactive. Set up accounts and invite your clients to share their views. I suspect most will be positive. If an unhappy individual comes along, perhaps even the losing party in an acrimonious case, there will be no need for you to defend yourself, your other clients will do it for you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on how to handle negative reviews. What do you do, or plan to do, about negative comments?

Make the Phone Ring is my course on Internet marketing for attorneys. Check it out here.

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Social media marketing for attorneys is not that important

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If you don’t have a robust social media marketing strategy in place you could soon find yourself left behind. At least that’s what everyone is saying.

This recent article in Entrepreneur is typical. It says that more and more people, especially younger ones, increasingly discover websites through social networks, less so through search.

I say it doesn’t matter. Social media marketing for attorneys isn’t that important.

Let’s think this through.

Joey Prospect has a legal problem and needs a lawyer. He goes to his favorite social network and asks for a recommendation. If his contacts have said recommendation, they provide it and a link to the lawyer’s website. If they don’t have the link, they tell Joey to do a search on the lawyer’s name.

What does this tell us? It tells us that nothing has changed. When someone needs a recommendation, they ask people they know. Yesterday, they may have phoned. Today, they go online.

If someone knows you and thinks you’re a good egg, they will refer people to you (your site) when asked. The people asking for the referral and the people giving the referral may be connected through a social network, but in the scenario above, the lawyer doesn’t have to be connected to either one.

Besides, most lawyers don’t actively engage with prospective clients through social media, nor do they need to. Most prospects don’t think about legal issues unless and until they have one and probably don’t have anything to say to a lawyer or want to hear anything a lawyer says until that occurs.

So, it’s a good thing that your clients and contacts are networking through social media. It’s good that social media is growing as a means for finding recommendations.

But, let’s keep things in perspective. If you handle legal issues that most people don’t want their friends to know about, you’re not going to get a lot of referrals that way. “Does anyone know a good criminal defense lawyer? Yeah, just got arrested for narcotics trafficking, a-gain!”

Search isn’t going to go away. So, lawyers need a website and some basic SEO in place because Joey Prospect is going to want to visit that site to see what the lawyer can do, and if the link is not provided, he is going to “google” the lawyer’s name.

Focus on building a great website with lots of quality content (i.e., solutions). This will (a) let people find you through search engines, (b) show prospects what you can do to help them, build trust, and convince them to choose you, and (c) allow people who know you or find your website to share your content with their networks.

You should provide an easy way for visitors to your site to connect with you via social media, i.e., you should have accounts with the major social media platforms and icons that allow visitors to connect with or follow you. And you should provide share buttons which make it easy for visitors to share your content with their networks.

Let everyone else worry about the networking.

However, social media is a great place for lawyers to network with other professionals. Use it to find and engage lawyers and other potential referral sources and joint venture partners.

And, if you advertise, you should probably allocate more dollars to ad buys on social media.

But don’t get hung up on the idea that you need to have a big list of social media contacts and you need to be conversing with them every day. You don’t. Social media marketing for attorneys, at least the way most people talk about it, just isn’t that important.

Learn more about social media and marketing online for attorneys in my course, Make the Phone Ring.

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How to steal your competitor’s clients

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Would you like to know a simple way to legally and ethically steal clients from other lawyers?

Sure you would. Here’s what to do.

First, who is your number one competitor? The one lawyer or law firm in your market who is tops in your practice area. It doesn’t matter if they are good lawyers or bad lawyers. Just make sure they bring in a lot of business. 

So, who’s client’s would you like to steal?

Got it?

Okay, now, I want you to write a short article about this lawyer or law firm. A review. You can praise them, write about their shortcomings, or do a balanced article and talk about the pluses and minuses of hiring their firm.

Next, publish this article on your website or blog. Make sure it is optimized for search engines. Put the lawyer or firm’s name in your title.

The reason? Well, three out of four people use the Internet to find lawyers. Some begin by doing a search based on the practice area or legal issue. Others hear about a lawyer somewhere and go online to check them out.

When a prospective client goes to Google or Bing to do some due diligence on the lawyer or firm you wrote about, they’ll see your review and come to your site to read it. When they do, they’ll find out about you and what you do and if they like what they see, they may hire you instead.

Every time Joe Lawyer runs a radio ad, for example, lots of prospective clients go online to see what other people think about him. In fact, there’s a good chance they’ll type “Joe Lawyer review” into the search box. You might want to make that the keyword phrase you optimize for.

Just make sure your site shows them why they should hire you instead of Joe.

And that’s how to steal your competitor’s clients. Well, their traffic, anyway.

If you want to get more clients on the Internet, you need this

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