Counteracting Negative Online Reviews

You may have heard that the best way to counteract negative reviews online is by outnumbering the bad reviews with good reviews – as a matter of fact, I mentioned that in my last video. But did you know that there is a right way and a wrong way to do that?

One big no-no in responding to a negative online review is to post fake positive reviews to counteract the negative review. This is one tactic that has been frequently employed by some reputation management companies. It is an absolute no for lawyers. It violates what I sometimes call the “golden ethics rule” for legal marketing: lawyers are prohibited from disseminating false or misleading information about themselves or their practices. Fake or made-up reviews fall squarely into this category, whether they are posted by the lawyer themselves or by a reputation management company or other third party.

And that brings me to the next question: should a lawyer write the review for the client, and have the client approve or “sign off” on the review? This is a bit more of a grey area, but I wouldn’t recommend it, even if a client asks you to just “write something for them and they’ll sign it.”

The most effective reviews or testimonials are those that are written in the client’s own words, and are based on the client’s experience. But you do want to make it as easy as possible for clients to write you positive reviews, and there are several ways that you can do that. For example, you might consider one or more of the following:

  • Having a third party (like Legal Ease Consulting) interview the client for you
  • Establish a firm interview team that conducts post-matter interviews of clients
  • Suggest areas clients they can discuss in their review (such as responsiveness, timeliness, etc)
  • Send clients links to your Google Business Page to leave a review
  • Request LinkedIn recommendations from clients

If you want help getting some great client reviews, testimonials or case studies, send me an email to see how I can help.

See more about marketing:

What Should You Do When You Get a Negative Online Review?

What should you do if you receive a bad online review from a client? In my last video, I discussed three mistakes lawyers make when responding to bad online reviews. But what should you do if you receive a bad review?

First – feel free to vent. Talk to your spouse, your colleague, or type out a response to every allegation the client has made. Just don’t post it online or actually send it to your client, or you might cause the client to escalate and leave even more bad reviews.

Second – remember that your response to a negative online review is really for the next potential client who might be reading the review, not for the client who wrote the review. Respond to the review in a calm, measured tone. Be professional. Let future potential clients see how well you handle conflict and de-escalate the situation. Let future clients know that this is not the experience you want clients to have with your firm. You might even be able to turn a negative review into a positive.

Third – the best way to counteract bad reviews is to outweigh them with good reviews. Most good clients will recognize a crazy person who would never be satisfied as an anomaly, particularly if there are good, substantive reviews and client stories that outnumber the bad ones. Get into the habit of asking good clients to leave you a review. Set up a system to capture all of the great things clients say about you so when a bad review comes, it won’t carry as much weight.

Not sure where to start getting good client reviews and testimonials? I can help. Send me an email so we can set up a time to chat!

Negative Online Review? Avoid These 3 Mistakes

What do you do when you get a negative review online?

Discovering that someone has left a bad review of you or your law firm online can be a lawyer’s worst nightmare. But you can make that nightmare even worse by the way you respond. So here are three mistakes lawyers should avoid when responding to negative online review.

Illustration of hand leaving star review on a device
  1. Going negative.

Resist the urge – as tempting as it might be – to respond in kind to a negative review online. All that does is make it look like you’re arguing publicly with your client. Now is not the time for you to tell your side of the story. You may even anger the client further, causing them to leave even more negative reviews.

2. Revealing client confidences in a response to an online review.

It can be tempting if you’re trying to tell your side of the story to reveal things that normally you would never reveal in an attempt to show why you are right and the client is wrong, or to demonstrate that you did everything you possibly could for the client. But don’t make a bad online review worse by turning it into an ethics complaint.

3. Ignoring or failing to acknowledge a negative review.

While it may not be the time to tell your story, you do want to make sure that you are giving some sort of response.

Do:

  • Be brief
  • Acknowledge the concern or complaint of the client
  • Show your concern
  • Encourage the client to contact you offline
  • If you know the identity of the client, indicate in your response that you will contact them offline to resolve the issue.

Don’t respond substantively.

If you’d like more videos on how to respond to online reviews, please subscribe to my YouTube channel or see these videos below:

Get More Mileage From Great Client Testimonials and Recommendations

In my last several videos, I’ve talked about client recommendations – specifically on LinkedIn, but also on other sites – we’ve covered the mechanics of asking for them, as well as the best way to ask, and also talked about what makes a great recommendation.

So what do you do after you get a great client review or recommendation? How can you get the most from it? Watch the video below, or read on to learn how.

The first thing you should always do after you get a great client review or recommendation is to say thank you! You can do it on the same platform where the client left the recommendation – by sending a thank you on LinkedIn, for example, or you can send them a thank you email or even a snail mail thank you card (hardly anyone sends those any more!)

But to really get the most out of a great client review or recommendation, when you thank the client, ask them if you can use their review or recommendation as a testimonial on your website. If you’re a lawyer or law firm, you’ll want to retain a copy of their consent, so it is best to get it in writing. Even better, ask if you can use their photo to accompany their testimonial on your website.

Testimonials are all about trust, and a website testimonial that is accompanied by a photograph of the client gives your web visitors a level of comfort that the testimonial is from a real client and isn’t just made up by you.

If you already have reviews or recommendations from clients that you haven’t added as testimonials to your law firm website, consider adding links to your reviews on other sites from your websites by saying something like, “see my other reviews on my Google Business page here.”

You can add reviews and recommendations as testimonials to your law firm website in several places – you can create a testimonials or client stories page where you collect all of your testimonials. You can also add testimonials throughout your site where it is relevant. Add testimonials that refer to a specific practice area on that practice area’s page. Put testimonials that talk about your stellar service to the page on your site that discusses how you work. Testimonials that refer to a specific lawyer in the firm can be added to the firm’s bio page.

Check out my other videos:

What Makes a Great Testimonial or Recommendation?

In my last couple of videos, I talked about LinkedIn Recommendations and testimonials – why you need them and how to ask for them.

But what makes for a good client recommendation or testimonial? Watch the video below and/or read on to find out!

The purpose of a testimonial is to help overcome client objections and to help your ideal clients to recognize themselves and see that you are a good choice for them.

You’ve probably heard testimonials on television commercials for lawyers that say something like, “I was injured in a truck accident. The insurance company only offered me $7500 to settle my case, but my attorneys got me $1 million.”

That kind of testimonial tells you what the lawyer does – plaintiff’s personal injury, but I don’t think it quite goes far enough, and it’s a little one-dimensional, focusing only on outcome.

But clients care about a lot more than outcome when they are working with an attorney. They care about what it is like to work with you, how easy you made it for them to navigate the process, whether they felt like you really cared about them and their problems, and more.

You may have also seen testimonials on lawyer websites that said something like, “Allison was great to work with on my estate plan. I highly recommend her.”

This tells you what the lawyer does and says something about the client experience, but it still doesn’t go quite far enough.

The best client testimonials tell a story about the experience – and it’s that story that the potential client reading your website will relate to. Even better would be if the testimonial demonstrates a before and after – what objections or concerns did the client have before retaining you? How did you address those concerns or objections? How does the client feel now?

You’ll want to include a number of different testimonials on your website and recommendations on LinkedIn that talk about various aspects of your service or that address the most common objections that clients have when hiring a lawyer in your practice area.

For example, look at the difference between the following two testimonials:

  1. “Mary was wonderful! She was so responsive, and we really felt that she had our best interests at heart.”
  • “Mary was invaluable in helping us through a difficult time. I was a bit skeptical at first that mediation would be able to help us resolve all of our divorce and custody issues, but Mary took the time to listen not just to what we were saying, but to dig deeper to find out what was really important to each of us and to develop a financial and custody plan that would work for our family. Mary walked us through the process and was patient, even when we got emotional during our mediation sessions. She answered our questions, no matter how trivial and found a compromise that is fair to everyone and enabled us to move on with our lives.”

A good recommendation tells a story and gives potential clients a good picture of what it is like to work with you.

As always, don’t forget to check the rules of professional responsibility in your jurisdiction to ensure that a recommendation or testimonial complies with the rules before posting it; if it doesn’t comply, you may need to ask the client for a quick revision.

For more video tips see below:

How to Ask for a LinkedIn Recommendation

 In my last video, I talked about why LinkedIn Recommendations are useful for lawyers and covered the mechanics of asking for them. But I know that some lawyers are just uncomfortable asking for recommendations. They don’t want to appear to “salesy” or to diminish their professionalism.

There are ways to approach clients for recommendations or testimonials that aren’t pushy or overly promotional. The most important thing is to be genuine. If you truly believe that you have helped this client and that you can provide value to others with the services you provide, and you approach asking for recommendations with that attitude, it may be less uncomfortable.

By far the easiest way to ask for a LinkedIn Recommendation is to do it when a client says thank you or otherwise expresses appreciation for what you have done for them. An appreciative client will always be happy to spread the word about the good work that you do.

Tell the client you were happy to help them, and then ask if they can help you reach others in a similar situation by writing a Recommendation for you on LinkedIn. You can send them a link in an email or simply tell them that you’ll send a recommendation request and that they should look out for it in their LinkedIn account.

But you don’t have to wait for a client to say thank you before you ask for a recommendation. Y ou can make recommendations a part of your regular process. Build a procedure that automatically triggers a request for a recommendation at the end of every client engagement. You can make it a part of your closing documents or email including the link and instructions, or just add to your file closing checklist to hop on LinkedIn and send that recommendation request.

If the client is an ongoing client with no specific end to their engagement, such as a client you perform outside general counsel services for, you could ask for a recommendation every so often, for example at the end of the year, at the completion of a big project, or in conjunction with a certain event every year.

Say something like, “It was a pleasure working with you. Thank you for choosing me to help you with … I have found that potential clients like to read about what it was like to work with me, so I would be grateful if you would be willing to leave a recommendation on my LinkedIn profile.” You can leave instructions right then and there about how to do so and tell them you’ll be sending a request, or wait for the client to respond that they are willing to do it and then send them a recommendation request.

As always, you’ll want to check your jurisdiction’s ethical rules with respect to recommendations and testimonials, and review any LinkedIn recommendations you receive before you post them to make sure that they do not contain prohibited language. If they do, you can always ask your client to revise the recommendation before you post it. And if your practice area doesn’t lend itself to client recommendations with a name attached, you can use these techniques to ask a client for a testimonial that you can post on your website without their name attached.

Be sure to follow up with a thank you after the client leaves you a recommendation!

For more LinkedIn video tips see below:

Should I Request a LinkedIn Recommendation?

Earlier this year I was invited to join a Zoom meeting with estate planning attorneys from all across the United States to talk about how they could use LinkedIn better. We had a great conversation that covered a wide range of topics, but one of the questions generated a significant amount of discussion, and it was a question about recommendations on LinkedIn.

Anyone you are connected to on LinkedIn can leave you a recommendation on your Profile. The lawyers  on the call generally said that they tended to pay more attention to recommendations on LinkedIn than endorsements, which they felt were not particularly valuable, and they thought their clients and referral sources might feel the same way. One of the questions that arose around this topic was whether lawyers should ask their clients for recommendations on LinkedIn, and if so, how to do that.

I think recommendations on LinkedIn are useful for a number of reasons.

A LinkedIn recommendation is like a testimonial on your own website – it’s third-party proof that you provide value for clients.

It is an opportunity for potential clients and referral sources to see what other people say about you, not just what you say about yourself and to tell their story about their experience with you.

And the way LinkedIn is set up, only your connection can write the recommendation – you can only post a recommendation on your LinkedIn Profile is if that recommendation was written by someone else. It takes a bit of time and effort for someone to write a recommendation, so it tends to have more value.

So how do you ask clients for a recommendation on LinkedIn?

First, you need to be connected to them on LinkedIn. Then you can request the recommendation in several different ways:

You can navigate to their LinkedIn Profile, scroll down to their recommendations section and click on “Request a Recommendation.”

Or, you can go to your own LinkedIn Profile, scroll down to your recommendations section and click on “Ask for a recommendation.” You’ll get a popup that will walk you through identifying who you want to ask for the recommendation and then sending the request.

You could also send an email or other request outside of LinkedIn with instructions that make it easy for them to recommend you – send them the link to your profile and tell them how to find the recommendations section. Then they can click on the “Recommend” button and write their Recommendation.

You should always carefully review any recommendations you receive on LinkedIn before you post them to your Profile to make sure that they comply with the ethics rules in your jurisdiction. If they don’t, you can always ask the client to revise it so that it does comply.

Now that you know why to request recommendations on Linkedin and how it can be done mechanically, you’re probably asking yourself (as the lawyers on the Zoom call did), “What is the best way to ask a client to recommend me on LinkedIn?” We’ll talk about that in a future video.

But for now, grab a copy of my book, Make LinkedIn Work for You on Amazon.com or check out my other LinkedIn videos: