When people search for attorneys, they pay attention to what other clients have to say about their experiences. According to our research, 80% of legal consumers find reviews important or very important when choosing an attorney. 

Reminding people to leave reviews of your practice is an important part of your marketing strategy, but so is how to respond to reviews. Consider these statistics:

  • 77% of consumers expect companies to respond to negative reviews, and 40% expect responses within 24 hours
  • 70% of consumers changed their minds about a brand after the business replied to a review

A good response validates the reviewer’s experience and instills confidence in the firm.

Focus on T.H.E.M.

Review readers need to know that you put the client first, take concerns seriously, and appreciate their trust in you. To make sure you communicate those points, remember the acronym THEM: timing, honesty, empathy, and message.

  • Timing: Respond as soon as possible. Aim for one business day for negative reviews and two days for positive reviews. 
  • Honesty: Tell the reviewer that you appreciate their feedback. Express gratitude for positive reviews. For negative reviews, offer an apology and a potential resolution. 
  • Empathy: Base your response on what the client needs. “I’m sorry to hear about your experience” goes a long way, and so does “I’m glad we made a difficult time in your life a little bit easier.” 
  • Message: You’re addressing the reviewer and any potential clients who might be reading the review. Ask yourself if your response would make a reader more likely to contact your firm.

Naturally, your tone and message will be different for positive and negative reviews.

Responding to Positive Reviews

When you respond to positive reviews, avoid the temptation to shoot off a quick “Thanks!” message. Show that you took the time to read the message carefully by acknowledging the specific compliments offered. If possible, add a related “fun fact” that could be a point in your favor.

For example, if a client praises your firm’s efficiency and speed of service, you could say:

“Thank you for your kind words about our teamwork. We’ve been a team for 15 years and we like to think of ourselves as a well-oiled machine!”

Or:

“We always put our clients and their interests first, and we believe that contributes to our great record.”

How to Respond to Negative Reviews

With negative reviews, validation is key. You can gently correct any factual inaccuracies, but don’t go on the defensive.

Accept responsibility if appropriate, then start working to resolve the situation. Sometimes you can clear up a simple misunderstanding online. If not — or if things escalate — offer to take the conversation offline.

For instance, if a client reports that an attorney was dismissive of their concerns, you could offer one of the following:

“I’m sorry that we failed to put our best foot forward. We take all of our clients seriously, and we welcome the opportunity to put things right.”

Or:

“We always aim to put our clients at ease, and I regret that we missed the mark with you. Let’s talk about how you think we can do better next time. Please call me at…”

It’s important to craft your replies carefully so that you’re responding, not reacting, to reviews as they arise. For more in-depth examples and detailed explanations of the concepts discussed here, download Martindale-Avvo’s Client Reviews Guide for Lawyers.