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Making Online Reviews Work for You, Part 2

Making Online Reviews Work For You, Part II – Save T.H.E.M.

In our last post, we discussed the importance of responding to reviews and what to consider when crafting a response.  Today, we will discuss the techniques to consider when responding to reviews, both positive and negative.

This post was co-authored by Lia Smith, VP of Education and Marketing at Satisfacts.

The Save T.H.E.M. Technique

Timing, honesty, empathy, and message (T.H.E.M.) are essential parts of an effective strategy for responding to reviews. Save T.H.E.M. techniques not only cover when to respond, but what to say and why to say it.

T = Timing

Time is of the essence when responding to reviews.  A prompt response shows the world that you sincerely care and appreciate all feedback (positive and negative) regarding a client’s experience. Within your firm, establish a goal to respond to all reviews within a specific period of time.

Particularly with negative reviews, responses should be submitted within one business day. Attorneys and firms should also respond to positive reviews, but this can wait two to three days if you choose.

Ensure your firm has consistent responses to every review.  This is particularly important if more than one individual is responsible for responding. Standard templates are a good place to start.  However, each response should be tailored so it addresses the specific points of the review.

Note: Don’t worry about responding to reviews older than six months. Responding to old reviews will only give them more weight in online searches.

H = Honesty

If you mess up,’fess up.  Don’t be afraid to admit fault.  Clients and prospective clients don’t expect perfection, but they do expect a resolution.  Nothing is sweeter to the ears than hearing “We apologize” or “I’m so sorry,” and those reading your response will appreciate the honesty.

Once an apology has been made, offer a resolution whenever possible.  Do not make excuses or throw a previous employee under the bus.  If the review describes an experience by a former employee, be tactful in relaying that said employee is no longer a part of your organization.

As it is important to be honest in responding, you also have the ability to keep the reviewer honest as well.  Most review websites offer the option to flag a review should you find it to be inappropriate, inflammatory, outright dishonest, etc.  Flagged reviews may be edited or removed based on the discretion of the review website.

E = Empathy

Respond from the client’s point of view.  Whenever possible, eliminate the “corporate speak” (i.e., “it is our policy,” “according to your agreement with us,” etc.).  Frankly, a client with a complaint doesn’t want to hear that, and readers will chalk it up to a cut-and-paste canned response. Words of shock help to infuse a little emotion into your responses.  “I’m so sorry to hear that was your experience” conveys in a way that is pleasing to the ear that the experience detailed in the review is not the norm for your business.

The reviewer, other clients and future clients will be reading your response for years to come.  What impression do you want them to glean from these responses?  Are you a firm with heart, who sincerely cares about its clients, or are you a corporate talking head?

M = Message

From tone to grammar, it’s not what you say but how you say it.  When writing a response, put yourself in the place of the prospective client reading your reviews and answer the question “Does this response make me more likely to contact this law firm?”

Complaints: Convey that your goal is to resolve the concern as completely as possible, to accept responsibility if needed, and to ensure clients are pleased with their overall experience.  Provide clarification if the reviewer is confused about or misstates the situation or firm policies — but do so in a way that does not fan the flames.

Praise: Amplify the great things being said about your firm.  Is someone happy about the way your team handled their case?  Be sure to mention in your response something unique about your business (“The team has been together for over 10 years and we are a well-oiled machine!”).  Potential clients read online reviews to learn more information about an attorney, so give them something positive to consider as they make their decision.

Final thoughts…

To ensure your message comes across loud and clear, every response should contain these three elements:

  1. We are responsive and dependable: That’s an easy one — simply respond to EVERY review.  Select someone on your team who can periodically check your email inbox for notifications of postings, monitor your review sites, and stay on top of postings made about your firm.
  1. We are committed to service: During your team meetings, share the latest reviews posted about the firm.  Is there a common theme?  What are clients complaining about and also praising you for?  It is essential that every team member understands what is being said and that everyone plays a part in securing your online reputation.  In talking about reviews, ask the team what could have been done to avoid the situation from happening in the first place and what you can do to make sure this never happens again.
  1. Our main goal is resolution: When it comes to online reviews, do you respond or react?  It’s hard to avoid reacting defensively to negative reviews.  But, remember the goal: to craft a response that demonstrates your commitment to client service. Positive and negative reviews are the beginning of a dialogue, and the goal here is to continue the conversation offline.  When leaving a response, try to present a solution.

Don’t lose heart when a negative review is posted; a negative review once in a while lends credibility to the positive reviews.  A business with 100% positive reviews may be viewed as “too good to be true.”  Take advantage of all online reviews: they offer an opportunity to promote your business, the commitment to service by your team, and all of the good that your firm does every day.
Responding to your reviews and using T.H.E.M. techniques when doing so will improve your online presence by showing your firm’s commitment to customer service and appreciation for the people who take the time to leave positive reviews. If you have further questions on Martindale-Hubbell Peer or Client Review Ratings, visit our website.

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