For many business owners who don’t embrace them, bad online reviews are a source of anxiety. Increasingly, it’s no different for professional services. Anyone can leave a bad review of your firm on Google, and these reviews typically lack the nuance required for law and accounting firms. That’s part of why we invented FirmChecker.
In this post, we’ll look at an example of a good response to a bad review, a terrible response to a bad review, and give you an easy 3 step formula to deal with bad reviews effectively.
Firstly, I’d like to make a high-level point. If you have a lot of reviews and they are all 10/10, you’ve probably deliberately biased your reviews. It looks fake, and clients know it. Ultimately, everyone makes mistakes, everyone has bad clients, and everyone knows it.
There are also legal risks. Meriton was recently fined $3 million dollars by the ACCC for systematically biasing its TripAdvisor reviews. As professional advisers, honesty is fundamental to your work. The short term benefit of cheating is not worth the long term risk.
When you do get a bad review, and you will, here’s what to do (and what not to do).
As you can see, you don’t need to eat humble pie publicly. In fact, it’s rarely appropriate to do so. You simply need to acknowledge the client’s concerns, indicate that you care about their experience and take it offline. It’s more about the signal your response sends to others than it is about this particular client’s perception.
XXXX, we would like to start by apologising for the change of lawyers, but, this was beyond our control and, in fairness, you ended up with a partner yet were charged the cost of a lawyer. That partner also did not charge for all of his work because he was conscious of your financial predicament. Secondly, we agreed to work for you providing that you paid your bills. We only ceased working upon the matter after carrying a large debt for a long period of time. You continually promised to pay the debt and yet never did. We are now suing you for the debt. Please feel free to call our office on XXXX XXXX to pay your debt.
To re-iterate, who is right is not the point. There are three clear errors in this response
Example 1 is a good template. You needn’t write an essay and you needn’t eat humble pie publicly– you just need to do the following:
Remember, when you do get a bad review, you might have a million reason why you’re right and the client’s wrong – but service seekers don’t want to hear them.
Ben Farrow is the Managing Director of FirmChecker and a consultant for Beaton Research + Consulting, the leading management consultants to professional services firms in the Asia-Pacific region. He holds commerce (economics and finance) and law (JD) degrees from the University of Melbourne and digital marketing certifications from Northwestern University in Illinois.