If your firm is already managing your online reputation by cultivating positive reviews on multiple platforms and responding (nicely) to negative ones, your firm is probably not among the more than a third of small business owners who don’t think they matter. But if you have been avoiding reviews or afraid of receiving negative ones, the survey results should be your wake up call. The reality is that clients are searching for reviews before they make that first call to your office.
If you are worried that asking for reviews is opening a Pandora’s box of negative reviews from impossible-to-please clients, understand that those reviewers will find a place online to complain, with or without your involvement. A recent study by the Local Search Association found that consumers are more likely to review a business after a positive experience than after a negative one. So, if you focus on asking for reviews from clients whose cases have reached a successful conclusion, you will increase the number of positive reviews that appear online, overshadowing any negative reviews.
Also, a negative review doesn’t have to stay that way. Someone unhappy about not receiving a return phone call or complaining about the way they were treated at your office may well change their mind about their first impression of you and your staff if you reach out to them personally. In fact, 89 percent of consumers expressed a potential willingness to change a negative review based on a business’s response. Consumers understand that business owners are reading reviews, and 77 percent of those surveyed said that when they leave a review, they expect a response from the business owner.
Still not motivated to boost your online presence with client reviews? Consider this: less than half of consumer respondents said they would pursue looking into a business with no reviews. You may have a great word-of-mouth reputation in the old-fashioned, pre-social media world, but most consumers value online reviews more than a friend’s recommendation. Out of three choices — price/fees, online reviews, and personal recommendations — 35 percent of consumers cited online reviews as the top criteria for purchase decisions. Only 9 percent said that a personal recommendation was more important.
Likewise, resting on your laurels if you already have reviews will send prospective clients away from your practice and toward your competition if they are 1) not recent; and 2) not rated high enough. Although 41 percent of businesses in the survey think that their clients and customers set the bar at 3.0 to 3.5 stars, legal consumers responding to the survey say the minimum star rating they require to consider an attorney is, on average, 4.1. So that means even if your average on a review site is 3.9, you could be losing prospective clients whose cutoff is 4.0 stars.
Proactively pursue great reviews
The answer to not having reviews, not having enough positive reviews or not being rated highly enough, is to ask for reviews from clients who you know are very satisfied with the results of their case and who have consistently had positive interactions with you and your staff. Keep an eye on legal review sites and other platforms. If you see a bad review online, consider an online response or a phone call to the client to address the complaint. If a client is unhappy with the outcome of their matter, your response could be to simply make a generic disclaimer, such as “family law cases often require compromises that mean neither party gets everything they wanted, but we always aim for the best possible outcome for our client.” Obviously, it isn’t possible — or beneficial to you — to get into specific facts of a client’s case online. But a calm, reasonable response shows you are paying attention to your online presence and care about your clients’ satisfaction.
So the next time you have a happy client who is thrilled with the results of their case, ask them — while they are still feeling that post-resolution glow — to write a review for you. If they sent you a thank you email, ask if you can publish it on your website and ask them to copy and paste the compliment on a review site. Investing in your online reviews will not only burnish your reputation online but will heighten the visibility of your practice to potential clients and the legal community, growing your practice one review at a time.