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No longer just a “review site,” Yelp! has developed into a go-to source for those looking to get a sense of a business’ quality, reputation, and services from an average consumer’s perspective.  If you already have a Yelp business account, you’re on the right track toward reaching prospective clients.  But how do you know that you’re actively engaging reviewers and responding correctly?

Read on to discover when and how to respond publicly versus privately on Yelp, as well as some social media best practices that your law firm can apply to Yelp.

Public Shout Out or Private Message

According to Yelp’s Manager of Local Business Outreach, businesses should assess every review on a case-by-case basis and decide which avenue to pursue depending on the tone and content of that person’s review.  For instance, if a former client leaves a scathing review of your services arguing that you cheated them of their hard-earned money after rushing to settle their disability claim, it is best to:

  1. Send a private message and gently ask a few clarifying questions.
  2. Be sure to provide your contact information in case the reviewer would rather call than hash things out on Yelp (which could also help to prevent any miscommunications or misinterpretations that can easily occur online).
  3. Hopefully gather more information about the situation.

General Rules of Thumb

Overall, your law firm’s social media standard operating procedure should include responding privately in these situations:

  • When striving to uncover details about a reviewer’s negative experience and determine how to help turn their experience around
  • If your firm would like to personally thank a reviewer for leaving an extremely positive experience

On the other hand, a public response could be the best avenue when addressing these cases:

  • A satisfied Yelper posted a great review and you have a good enough relationship with them to warrant a more personalized public comment about your interactions
  • You’d like to highlight improvements or changes you firm has implemented due to a Yelper’s review

Best Practice #1: Respond with Kindness and Professionalism First

Responding defensively to a negative review will only ward future Yelpers off and portray your firm in a bad light.  If you receive a destructive comment on your firm’s Yelp page (or really any of your law firm’s social media pages), especially if the commenter is being unreasonable, it’s best to take the high road and respond professionally and kindly.

Scotty S. of Scotty J. Storey—a law firm in San Jose, California specializing in personal injury, DUI, and criminal defense law—took this avenue when responding to Gary M. in the example below.  Not only does the firm look more professional and aware of their prospects’ feedback, but it also undermines the negative review’s credibility by demonstrating that the firm’s attorneys do make a practice of following up with inquiring prospects.

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Best Practice #2: Inject Some Personality

Feel free to inject some personality into comment responses.  Take the sample below of S. Edmond from the El Dab Law Firm in Los Angeles; his statement is humorous, genuine, and casual, and demonstrates that he really cares what the reviewer has to say.

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