Responding to negative online reviews


How to respond to negative reviews

Receiving a negative review online can make your heart sink. It’s hard not to take it personally when you have put so much time, effort and resources into building your law firm. However, with 86 per cent of customers being hesitant to use a business with negative reviews, it’s imperative to put together a strategy for dealing with bad comments about your business online.

So, let’s take a look at why you should respond to negative reviews and how you should respond.

Monitoring reviews about your business

Google reviews are used by 72 per cent of customers to find businesses. Set up Google Alerts to track mentions of your business online. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Log into your Google account
  2. Head to
  3. Add keywords, such as the name of your firm
  4. You will receive an email notification whenever there is a new piece of content matching the terms you have entered

For those who have Google My Business properly set up and optimised, you will already be receiving notifications of all reviews (good or bad) to the email address attached to the profile.

Why should you respond to negative reviews about your law firm?

When you receive a negative review, it can be tempting to hit the ‘x’ button and close the page. However, responding is essential and here are the reasons why:

  • Customers expect to see a response – Did you know that 53 per cent of customers expect companies to respond to negative feedback within one week? In fact, one in three have a shorter timeframe of three days or less. If you do not respond, people will assume that you don’t care what your customers think. This is not the sort of law firm that people want to do business with!
  • Showcase outstanding customer service - Responding to reviews is a simple yet effective way of practicing and showcasing outstanding customer service. Whether a review is negative or positive, responding in a prompt manner shows your clients (and prospective clients) that you are caring, active, and engaged.
  • You may be able to change their mind - One study has revealed that seven out of 10 consumers changed their opinion about a company after the business responded to a review. It’s good to show clients that you are willing to resolve their issues and earn back their business. By taking customer service and reviews seriously, you could end up turning a one-star review into a five-star review.

How to respond to negative feedback in online reviews

Responding to negative reviews in a timely manner is crucial. The longer it takes your business, the less you appear to care. Responding within 24 to 48 hours is vital so that your words feel sincere. But how exactly do you respond?

Acknowledge the client’s comments

It’s hard not to feel like a bad review is a personal attack, yet you must keep your emotions out of it. Show the client your willingness to see things from their perspective. This displays the ethics of your business to potential customers, as well as setting the right tone for a productive conversation for the disgruntled client.

Starting off with a phrase such as “we are sorry to hear you had a poor experience with us” displays empathy and this can go a very long way. Your client will feel heard.

Apologise (if warranted) and empathise with your client

Once you have acknowledged the client’s grievance, if you feel their grievance is justified, you need to apologise. Even if you do not fully agree with what the customer is saying, taking the high road is key. It needn’t be war and peace. Just a simple comment will suffice.

Try something along the lines of “we sincerely apologise that our service was not satisfactory for you.”

You may want to add a line or two about the high standards you hold your business to, how important your clients’ satisfaction is and what measures you may look at to ensure this does not happen again.

Don’t be defensive - take responsibility

Excuses are not going to sit well with anyone. Now is not the time to be defensive; this type of responsive behaviour can come across as combative. Even if the poor experience was not your fault, you need to have a customer-centric approach, which means taking the moral high ground.

For instance, if the client felt that the staff at your law firm were rude, don’t say that they are wrong. Instead, say that you are disappointed they have had a poor experience and that you will make sure it does not happen again. You could also comment that you are going to investigate the issue.

Figure out whether you need to provide an explanation

Whether or not you should provide an explanation depends on the nature of the complaint. If the issue has stemmed from miscommunication, for example, you may feel compelled to explain that this is the case.

If you do provide an explanation, you should never justify what happened, but simply explain what happened. There is a difference! The last thing you want is for it to sound like you’re making excuses. Instead, simply give some clarity as to why the error happened.

Even if you are technically not in the wrong, emphasizing that you are sorry for their experience, is important. Your client is entitled to feel the way that he or she does.

Make things right

Last but not least, if the issue can be fixed, fix it. If the customer deserves it, you may want to offer them a full or partial refund or a complimentary meeting with another lawyer. Alternatively, you could offer some sort of free service to make up for the last one.

If nothing can be done to rectify what has happened, a compelling public response can be written to display your sincere regret and your keenness to make sure this sort of situation does not happen again.

A bad comment does not need to ruin your firm’s online presence

While a negative review can be a step back, it doesn’t need to derail your online presence. Use the advice we’ve provided above and you could turn an unhappy customer into a loyal one!

Contacting Social Hive

📞  0412 338 376


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