The best way to respond to a negative review

So it is true what they say - no matter how hard you try, you simply cannot please everyone. Whilst this can often leave you feeling underappreciated, unmotivated and frankly deflated, we don’t think it’s necessarily a bad thing. Even if the reviews you are left are not always promoting your best bits, what is important is that your clients are doing the talking - and like any time we take a stumble, it’s how we get back on our feet that matters most.

The first thing you can do to make sure you bounce back after a bad review is to start as you mean to go on and that begins with your initial reaction. Like anything, when we’ve put the work in and we know that we’ve executed it to a high standard, our first response to negative feedback may lead us to become defensive and emotional. However, do not put your finger on the panic button straightaway. In many ways, your raging reviewer is doing you a massive favour by giving you the springboard to show off your best communication skills - you just have to take the leap.

So before diving in head first, reconsider what this means for you. Criticism can be as constructive as it is damaging and the choice of response is always in your hands. Like anyone voicing a negative opinion - whether that’s vocally or on a legal review forum - all your reviewer wants is to be heard. So make sure you are listening! Really, they’ve done you a favour. By leaving a negative review, they’re planting the seed you need to leave a trail of engagement and conflict resolution behind. And that’s what your future clients are looking for.

It’s also a good idea to rethink your preconceptions about what the ‘negative’ review actually means. Is it a reason to be frustrated or is it simply an opportunity to do better? Instead of differentiating your reviews as ‘positive’ and ‘negative’, try not to polarise them. You can have your shining examples, and the ones that just show you how to do better. Nobody’s perfect and your future clients do not expect you to be. What they do expect is that you’ve dealt with the feedback in the most constructive way possible. It is your response that shapes their opinion more than the review itself so give them a thread of conversation that shows you deserve 5 stars next time. 

We’ve put together some tips to show you how:

Lead with an apology and an explanation Sometimes we all like to have a moan and it’s easy to dismiss these comments as simple bad manners. As cliche as it sounds however, you should remember that all publicity is good publicity - so make the most of it. Give an apology even if you’re not sure it’s completely warranted. Explain why you think the issue has arisen and make it clear that whatever your intention, it was not to make the client feel this way.

Avoid language that is too emotive When somebody criticises the thing you know you’re good at, it’s easy to get defensive. However, you can channel this energy into something far more constructive by seeing it as the tool that can shape the opinions of your prospective clients. Instead of saying “we do not think this is the case” try saying “we understand why you feel frustrated” - a little empathy will go a long way.

Use this as an opportunity to show off your strengths Even if your patience is wearing a bit thin, making sure you’re laying it on thick - all of the resolutions, of course. Whether that’s inviting your client to the office to discuss the matter in person or writing a letter of apology, make sure you’re reaching out so that they know you’re taking the matter seriously. The customer isn’t always right, but you will see the benefits if you treat them like they are!

By following these steps and reconsidering the value that a ‘negative’ review holds, you’ll be turning your raging reviewer back into a firm fanatic in no time. Start making the most of all of your reviews - there’s room for the less desirable ones in there too. 

To know more about how ReviewSolicitors can help you deal with defamatory reviews read our guidance here.

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