Traditionally, lawyers and attorneys have relied on the use of conventional advertising methods like advertisements (both paper and digital) or word-of-mount to promote their firm to potential clients. The thought process is that the opinions of strangers are not good enough for prospective clients to rely on.
This line of thinking, however, is flawed. Online reviews (both positive and negative) hold immense power.
More frequently, consumers are turning to the online community when trying to make important decisions like hiring a lawyer. In fact, this has become so prominent that many search engines are including ratings right alongside their search returns.
The most important reason online reviews are helpful for law firm is when a potential client has little experience with hiring an attorney.
Fortunately, there are plenty of websites dedicated to handling such reviews. Three that first come to mind are Avvo, Google, and Yelp. Hosting an online review platform on your own website is an even better way to highlight your successes and have greater control of your online reputation.
Getting good reviews
Your firm’s first hurdle is to convince your clients to leave a review of your services. This should be obvious, but a law firm should never offer compensation for providing a positive review. You should also avoid writing fake reviews.
Additionally, the hosting websites also have their own rules about reviews.
For example, Yelp has a policy that prohibits businesses from directly asking their clients to review their business. More specifically, Yelp’s policy states, “Don’t ask customers, mailing list subscribers, friends, family, or anyone else to review your business.”
The best avenue for getting reviewed is to ask clients directly and make it easy for the client to follow through.
Dealing with bad reviews
Hopefully, negative reviews are infrequent. However, they eventually happen to us all. If you experience a client who is unhappy, your firm has a few options when it comes to how the negative review should be handled.
First, if the disgruntled client review contains factually incorrect information, you may be able to have the review removed outright (typically by a reputation management firm).
Most of the time, however, negative reviews are simply the opinions of an individual that cannot be removed. Most review hosts give law firms the option to respond to a review, which is readable by the online community.
Check out these tips on how to respond to negative reviews.