Like it or not, online reviews are a part of the legal industry these days. The vast majority of directories (legal or non-legal) allow for online reviews of lawyers and law firms. The number of online directories out there where lawyers can end up up with reviews is also almost infinite at this point.
It was not always like this in the legal industry. For example, in the days of the phone book being a predominant source of marketing for many law firms, this was not the case. Law firms and attorneys did not have to worry about online reviews when running phone book advertisements. The same was really true with radio and television advertising.
Many wish that this would be the case again. But the reality is that online reviews are not going away (at least not any time in the near future). In the end, online reviews draw webpage traffic (which is like ratings for radio or television). And online directories, who compete for webpage traffic, are going to allow reviews if consumers are interested in reading them. Right now, that’s definitely the case.
For most lawyers and law firms, the first step is recognizing that clients are going to leave online reviews. It is also important to understand that unhappy clients are infinitely more likely to leave negative online reviews without prompting than happy clients leaving positive reviews (without prompting).
To illustrate the point, take a lawyer firm that has 100 clients. If 95 of those clients are happy with the services they received, that law firm could still have 5 unhappy clients leaving negative online reviews. And, like it or not, those 5 unhappy clients are much more likely to leave a negative review than those 95 happy clients leaving a positive one.
So, how do law firms and lawyers get positive online reviews:
1.) It goes without saying, but lawyers need to ensure that they are satisfying as many clients as possible. If clients are satisfied, lawyers and law firms have many clients who they can ask for a positive review. So, focus on providing competent, communicative and diligent representation at your law firm.
2.) Lawyers have to get used to asking for positive online reviews from clients. For many lawyers and law firms, this can be a bit uncomfortable. But if business is obtained online, it is vital that lawyers get more accustomed to asking clients in a classy and non-pushy manner.
3.) Lawyers should really think about asking for a positive online review in a time appropriate manner. For example, if a client is happy with the results achieved and expresses this to you with gratitude, this might be a natural time to politely ask for a positive online review. The truly thankful clients will be glad to take a moment of their time to give you a review if you ask them.
4.) Surveying clients can help lead to more online reviews. Of course, surveying clients is a great idea for other reasons as well. However, if your law firms surveys clients, and a client gives glowing, positive survey, it can be natural to ask for a positive online review at that time.
5.) If clients do not know how to leave positive online reviews, put together some simple instructions that you can quickly e-mail to clients that can make it as easy as possible for them. For many clients, this is the biggest impediment to them leaving an online review — not knowing how to do it. In other words, they may be glad to do it. They just do not understand how to do it.
6.) With some online sites, you might be able to buy a tablet for your office that you can synch up with an online directory (through a bookmark or shortcut) that you can quickly hand to a client in the office to leave a positive online review. In fact, some reputation services will charge you to do just this — when you could do this on your own free of charge with your own tablet. Just know with certain online directories (like Google and Yelp for example), if the positive online reviews are coming from the same tablet, the spam filter may prevent reviews from posting because the reviews are coming from the same IP address. So, do research and be careful with any directory you try to synch up with a tablet.
7.) Be patient with obtaining positive online reviews. The truth of the matter is obtaining positive reviews can take some time for most. You might have to ask several clients before one actually takes a moment out of their day to post one. But if you stick with it (and follow some of the steps above), over time, you can build up lots of positive online reviews.
At the end of the day, most lawyers would rather get back to the practice of law versus worrying about positive online reviews. But if you obtain new clients online, you really cannot ignore online reviews.
Most potential clients understand that almost every lawyer or law firm is going to have some negative reviews, just like every 5-star, luxury hotel is going to have some bad reviews. But if your positive online reviews surpass your negative reviews, you should be in good shape in terms of getting business online. On the other hand, if you ignore negative reviews, and do not build up positive ones, it can negatively impact your business.
If you have any thoughts, feel free to share them below.