Why Your Law Firm Needs Online Reviews & 10 Ways to Get More of Them
In the increasingly digital world that we live in, people rely heavily on the information they find online—especially when they are looking for a service. For law firms, new clients and repeat business frequently come from information on the web. One of the biggest sources of client-facing information about your firm that can make or break your business is online reviews.
Online reviews of your law firm and attorneys are important to attract new clients looking for the best lawyer, and for keeping your law firm running. Of course, once a potential client gets to your website, it’s important that it looks professional. Comprehensive websites for law firms can help communicate your expertise to potential clients and conclude their search (more on that in our conclusion).
Why does your law firm need online reviews?
Online reviews from satisfied customers will provide valuable insight to prospective clients who are seeking legal representation. When people are looking for an attorney, they want to find someone that they know can be trusted and do a great job. Positive online reviews will give people reassurance and an expectation that your law firm can assist them with their needs.
When a law firm lacks online reviews or has minimal information available online, then prospective clients are left guessing about whether or not your firm can provide quality service. Due to the uncertainty caused by this lack of information, some potential clients might seek out other law firms. This can be avoided with online reviews and a professional-looking law firm website design. But of course, potential clients won’t bother visiting your website if you don’t have good reviews—so here are some ways you can take care of that.
10 Ways to Get More Positive Online Reviews
Realistically, you cannot expect every review to be positive. Even the best restaurants in town, the best services—AAA rated by the Better Business Bureau—will have naysayers. Come to think of it, even famous movie producers, artists, singers, and world leaders cannot escape negative reviews.
But the good news is that you can mitigate the strength of negative reviews by building positive reviews and using a few other strategies.
#1: Follow up with clients about leaving a review via email.
Yes, it’s a little time-consuming to try and round up reviews. You might be tempted to pass this one on to the junior partner (or the paralegal, or the secretary) but it will be far more potent if you send a non-automated, personal email to a previous client thanking them for the opportunity to work together and asking them to leave a review on one particular review page you’re trying to foster positive growth on (Facebook, Google, etc.). There is nothing wrong with asking a client to leave behind a review and a line or two about their experience with you—whether they do or don’t is up to them, but you will certainly increase your chances of getting one if you ask. Note: avoid asking clients to do this while they’re using the WiFi in your office, as some revue sites will take note of this and remove the review.
#2: Create pages where clients can leave reviews.
Your law firm should have a few prominent locations where former clients can leave reviews, such as Google, Facebook, the Better Business Bureau, and Yelp. If your law firm is not listed on these business directories or doesn’t have an accessible page, clients wouldn’t be able to leave behind comments even if they wanted to. You should also place links to these review pages on your website, and in any other communications where you’re asking for a review. Don’t just email clients and ask them to go to Yelp; not only will they be less likely to do so, but they may not locate your law firm’s page.
#3: Place reviews on your homepage.
For better or worse, people tend to do what everyone else is doing. If reviews are placed in a prominent location on your website, such as your homepage, this will send a message to potential clients that leaving a review is part of the process of working with you—while also adding to the professionalism and credibility of your firm. Many review sites like Yelp and Google can be embedded in your law firm’s website, which means the reviews clients have left behind there can show up on your homepage.
#4: Reach out to reviewers who left bad reviews.
Some venues will actually let you respond to client reviews. Take this opportunity to address the concerns of that previous client as best as you can. Whether you can or cannot respond publicly, reach out to those frustrated reviewers and see if there is anything you can do to give them a better impression of your firm. Surprisingly, you might find that they are willing to change their review once you address their concern (but don’t bank on that possibility). This is one good reason to pay for upgraded memberships on review sites and directories that will allow premium members to respond to or contest reviews.
#5: Contest unfair or inaccurate reviews.
Some of the negative reviews you receive can be contested, especially if the person leaving the review behind clearly has an agenda to defame your firm, and is lying in their review. Contact the customer support department of the review site immediately to deal with these reviewers, if possible. Some web browsers (known colloquially as trolls) get a kick out of leaving behind bad reviews and comments, so if you see a review from someone who doesn’t ring a bell, look into it ASAP. Still other reviewers might be accidentally leaving behind a review meant for a different firm (it does happen). This is why you will want to regularly take a look at the reviews people are leaving behind.
#6: Respond to positive reviews.
You shouldn’t just respond to unfavorable reviews in an attempt to curtail the effects of their negativity. In fact, you should respond to every review you can. This sends a positive message to potential clients checking out your reviews, and plants the idea in their mind about leaving their own review later (after all, it will have the positive outcome of a thank-you from your firm). Additionally, responding to positive reviews in many cases will result in a notification to the reviewer from that site, which sets the stage for future business.
#7: Send a follow-up survey.
Some clients may not even think about leaving behind a review unless you prompt them to. Tip #1 was very direct in its approach, but another possible way of getting reviews is to email a client survey with a few questions (not too many). You can certainly use these questions to get feedback, but one of the main reasons you’ll be sending this survey is to ask for a review at the end, with a link directing clients to whatever review page you’re trying to grow. This is actually a common strategy used by many businesses—and you’ll kill two birds with one stone, since you can also use the survey to generate some feedback about how to improve your client experience.
#8: Do not pay for reviews.
Obviously this sounds very unethical from the get-go, though its ethics are hotly debated in the business world, especially in the era of eCommerce. But even so, many service providers are quite tempted to solicit paid reviews in order to beef up their appearance, even if those reviews come from people who have never used their services. This is definitely something you will want to avoid, because review sites are getting better and better at detecting these kinds of things, and it could seriously backfire on your firm’s marketing strategy (if not now, then in the future). You will also want to avoid incentivizing reviews with clients you really did work with, because many sites have strict rules against this.
#9: Put it on paper (or cardstock).
Many businesses include a small postcard in the products they ship out, asking customers to leave a review behind online. Since you aren’t selling a product, you won’t have such an opportunity to do this in a seamless way. However, you could mail a postcard to clients after handling their case, asking for a review. Another great place to put a request for reviews is right on your business card. It can be as simple as including a logo for Google, Yelp, or Facebook, with a call to check out your page on that venue and check out the reviews from previous clients (again implanting the idea in their mind that leaving a review is part of the process).
#10: Provide stellar service with your legal counsel.
Our final tip is perhaps the easiest way to generate more reviews, which should not be overlooked. You can ask, incentivize, and survey all you want, but the easiest way to generate good reviews is to generate them from clients who are already wanting to leave one. These are clients who had a positive experience with your firm, not just because you handled their case professionally, but because you went above and beyond to treat them with respect. Even for those clients who do not automatically leave behind a review, it will be much easier to ask for a review from a client who had a great experience working with your firm.
Why is a law firm website important?
In addition to online reviews, potential clients will want to see a website that provides useful information. Because the website is often a person’s first exposure to a law firm, the website needs to be professional and informative. An unprofessional website could deter clients who are turned off by the lack of quality.
Law Firm Sites Inc can assist in developing and maintaining websites for law firms. Our law firm website design strives to create websites that will attract clients and provide information that leaves a positive impression. For assistance with law firm websites and improving your firm’s online presence, contact Law Firm Sites.