Negative Reviews: Their Hidden Benefits and How To Manage Them

Negative Reviews: Their Hidden Benefits and How To Manage Them

A peak inside how the best attorneys handle negative online reviews


How do online reviews actually work? As with any referral-based industry, there are obvious benefits to having positive reviews online for attorneys. They certainly influence how you acquire business (both repeat and new), but what other ways do reviews impact purchasing decisions? The details may surprise you.

In a 2018 case study, Virayo - a digital marketing company supporting law firms and healthcare professionals - illustrates the dynamics of online reviews. Let’s break down the numbers of positive and negative online reviews as a whole:

  • 90%. Percentage of consumers who say their purchases are influenced by online reviews
  • #1. Consumers say a companies online reviews is the number one factor used to judge a business.
  • Over 50%. Percentage of consumer who ages 18-34 who say they trust online reviews more than friend and family recommendations.

From these statistics, it’s clear how essential online reviews can be to a practice. And, although nearly 70% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust local businesses more, negative reviews play an important role in their decisions as well:

  • 94%. Percentage of consumers who would use a business with a 4-star rating.
  • 95%. Percentage of consumers who suspect censorship or faked reviews when there are no negative scores present.
  • 68%. Percentage of consumers who trust reviews more when there are both good and bad scores present.

What can attorneys do with this information? As the usage of the internet for finding an attorney grows, the trends and patterns consumers except become more and more sophisticated. 75% of consumers looking for attorneys in the past year used online resources at some point in their search, and 65% of consumers found reviews to be extremely influential in their decisions.

The idea of having positive reviews is straightforward: consult with a client, be retained for your services, and ultimately deliver satisfactory legal service and request their favorable review. The idea of having a negative review is a bit more complicated.

What To Do With Online Reviews

Although responding to a positive review can be as simple and succinct as saying “thank you”, responding to a negative review needs more attention. Talia Shani, Head of UK Marketing at Yotpo, addresses this topic in her article, “What to Do About Negative Reviews” and says there are important pieces of information you can gather from a negative review:

  • What do consumers expect from my practice?
  • What do consumers expect from my approach?

Shani goes on to clarify, “...one of the main reasons customers write bad reviews is not because the product was bad, but because it didn’t meet their expectations... In fact, a Yotopo study, 1.3 million reviews found that the most-commonly used negative word in reviews - by an enormous margin - is “disappointment” or “disappointed”.”

In the same article, Shani offers some advice on how to deal with negative reviews. Here are some essential takeaways for attorneys:

Publish Your Bad Reviews. At some point, you will have an unhappy client, and displaying such a review shows that you have nothing to hide.

Respond to Negative Reviews Publicly. In the same vein, dealing with a former clients’ issues in the public sphere shows you respect their feedback, not just their business. This shows potential clients your desire to deliver great service after business is done.

Learn from Negative Product & Business Reviews. What is at the core of the negative review? What is it saying about your practice and how you might improve? It can anything from displaying the correct contact information on your website, to outlining the specific areas you practice.

Follow Up. Reconnecting with your former client on whether or not their issues has been resolved is a professional courtesy that can go a long way. Even if their stance has not changed, they are grateful for the positive experience of being heard and addressed.