If you’ve clicked through to this blog post, it’s probably safe to assume you’re convinced that online reviews matter for your law firm. But just in case you don’t realize how much they matter, consider the results of a recent consumer study focused on legal services.
Marketing researchers asked more than 300 participants from across the country, ages 21-65 and a roughly equal mix of both genders, how heavily they would weigh online reviews from sites like Google and Yelp when choosing whether to hire a lawyer.
The results were eye-opening:
- Almost 84% of respondents said they wouldn’t hire an attorney who had less than a four-star average review
- About 24% said they wouldn’t hire a lawyer who had less than a five-star average review
- Only 8.54% said online reviews wouldn’t matter to them when deciding whether to hire an attorney
“Almost 84% of respondents said they wouldn’t hire an attorney who had less than a four-star average review.”
Unfortunately, for reasons that we’ll delve into later in this post, many lawyers struggle to get their most satisfied clients to leave those all-important reviews, while the one or two problem clients who ended up unhappy are all too eager to leave their mark online. Read on to learn strategies that can help you address this problem and boost your reviews on the most valued and visible platforms.
Create Profiles on the Most Important Review Sites
Your clients can’t leave you and your firm reviews unless you have a presence on the major review sites. While there are dozens of sites out there that host consumer reviews, there are at least four that your firm must engage with. Those four are:
- Google My Business: Google is the place where most people go online to search for anything they need, including legal services. Building up positive reviews on your Google My Business listing will not only make your firm look inviting and trustworthy to Google users, but it will also improve your firm’s performance in local search results.
- Facebook: With a daily active user count in the billions, Facebook is so monolithic that you can’t afford to ignore it, especially since your Facebook page will probably show up in Google searches for your firm’s name.
- Avvo: Avvo’s model of doing business has made more than a few lawyers angry. The site assigns “Avvo ratings” to each practicing lawyer they can find — even those who haven’t created profiles yet. While these ratings look like some sort of client satisfaction measurement, they actually represent how much info the lawyer has submitted about themselves to Avvo. It’s basically a strong-arm tactic to try and punish lawyers who don’t use Avvo, and unfortunately, it works. Whether you like Avvo or hate it, it’s the premier site specifically tailored to attorney reviews, and it doesn’t appear to be going anywhere soon.
- Yelp: While it’s not specifically targeted toward legal services like Avvo, Yelp is still a popular website that many people instinctively turn to when they’re shopping among local businesses. Yelp offers more advanced advertising features for business owners who pay for them, but creating a listing for your firm is completely free and definitely worth your time.
Make It Easy for Your Satisfied Clients to Leave You a Review
Consumer behavior studies have repeatedly shown that customers are more likely to share bad experiences with businesses than good ones. It might seem completely unfair that your dozens of happy clients whose cases you went above and beyond for stay silent while the one guy or gal who came in with delusional expectations, flaked on appointments, and straight-up lied to you leaves a review, but that’s exactly what’s likely to happen unless you take matters into your own hands.
The simplest way to make it easy for clients to leave a review is to give them lots of reminders and opportunities to do so. For example, you should set up links to review your firm on your website, in your email signatures, and in your email newsletters. Include a message (personalized, where possible) that lets clients know how much you value their feedback and that their positive reviews really do make a difference for your business.
“The simplest way to make it easy for clients to leave a review is to give them lots of reminders and opportunities to do so.”
Of course, this approach is fairly passive, and for many clients, you’ll need to take the direct route and follow up with them specifically to ask for a review. Email automation provides a way to contact clients at set intervals, which can make it easy to keep nudging current and past clients for a review without coming off as intrusive or overtaxing your staff.
Offer Incentives for Clients Who Leave Reviews
Your satisfied clients don’t specifically intend to not leave you a review. It’s just that they have their own lives with their own deadlines and stresses and nagging needs to deal with, plus a hundred other email messages in their inbox asking them to do this or that. Even if they meant to leave you a review, it’s easy for the best of intentions to get lost in the shuffle.
One way to cut through all the noise and get people’s attention is to offer them something that has legitimate value. Since leaving a review is a pretty simple task, you don’t have a big hurdle to overcome when offering incentives to do so. Giving anyone who leaves a review a ticket to a monthly raffle that could win them a $50 gift certificate to a popular local restaurant or a night out at a sports game could be enough to make the difference for many clients.
Of course, when you offer clients things that have monetary value in exchange for reviews, you do have to tread carefully from an ethics perspective. State bar associations have generally concluded that it’s okay to offer various goodies or even small amounts of money in exchange for reviews, with some common-sense restrictions.
In 2015, for example, the New York State Bar Association wrote that it was acceptable for an attorney to offer a client a $50 credit toward their legal bills in exchange for a review, as long as: 1) the discount wasn’t contingent on a favorable review, 2) the client wasn’t coerced to write the review, and 3) the client, not the lawyer, wrote the review.
Dedicated Tools Can Help Drive Reviews
Beyond simple best practices for garnering reviews, special tools exist that are specifically designed to help businesses get more online reviews. Some of these tools offer significant advantages and can make your life a lot easier compared to managing your reviews manually.
One such tool that we use for many of our clients at LaFleur is called BirdEye. BirdEye can work with your existing client management software to send your clients friendly, inviting automated prompts to review your firm. You can set things up so that clients receive these prompts via text message or email at critical moments in their case, like after a consultation or when their case wraps up.
“BirdEye can work with your existing client management software to send your clients friendly, inviting automated prompts to review your firm.”
BirdEye makes it quick and easy for your satisfied clients to review your firm on the most important review sites with only a couple taps on their smartphone, and it also alerts you about negative reviews. In addition, you can use it to keep your firm’s information up-to-date and consistent across dozens of different review sites and directories.
The downside of tools like BirdEye, at least for smaller firms, is that they can be a bit expensive. Since we use BirdEye to manage online reviews for multiple law firms, we’re able to maintain them under one account and provide each client a “seat” within the account for a much lesser cost compared to setting up your own account.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to find any solution without working with an agency, but you may have to shop around among limited options if you’re on a tight budget, as many smaller firms are.
One Final Thought…
We don’t want to patronize you by telling you how to run your firm, but don’t forget that before you can get more and better reviews, you need satisfied clients. Lots of factors can affect client satisfaction besides your skills, dedication, and personality, so it’s important to examine all aspects of your practice to make sure you’re delivering a great experience for your clients.
“it’s important to examine all aspects of your practice to make sure you’re delivering a great experience for your clients.”
For example, is your firm mired in the dark ages of pen, paper, and faxes because you haven’t gotten around to implementing digital cloud-based systems for client intake and paperwork? While you might feel most comfortable with a trusty fountain pen in your grip, your clients (younger ones in particular) increasingly won’t have patience for filling out forms by hand, especially redundant ones that a digital client management system could populate automatically.
And in general, don’t forget to audit your firm’s processes every so often to learn about your client’s potential pain points and find out where you have room to grow and improve. (We talked with the CEO of a company that helps lawyers do this on our podcast recently, so you may want to take a listen.) Getting great reviews (and having a great law practice) isn’t just about delivering stellar legal representation — it’s about creating a great client experience from start to finish.
Contact LaFleur Today for Help Getting More Client Reviews
If you’re not getting the online client reviews that your firm needs to thrive in the digital marketplace, we’ve got solutions. To learn more about how LaFleur can help your firm get more positive reviews and better overall visibility on the web, please give us a call today at 888-222-1512 or complete the brief contact form on the right side of this page. We can’t wait to hear from you!
New study: How important are reviews for law firms? (2017, November 12). ilawyermarketing. Retrieved from ihttps://www.ilawyermarketing.com/importance-reviews-lawyers/
New York State Bar Association Committee on Professional Ethics. (2015, March 25). Ethics opinion 1052. New York State Bar Association. Retrieved from http://www.nysba.org/CustomTemplates/Content.aspx?id=55648
Stadd, A. (2013, April 18). More people share bad customer service experiences than good. Adweek. Retrieved from http://www.adweek.com/digital/social-customer-service-2/