To attract and retain long-term clients, you need to understand how people think, act, and feel when looking for and working with an attorney. One key source for this information is your online client reviews. As tempting as it can be to ignore your client reviews, do not get complacent about them. Whether they are on Google, Avvo, lawyers.com, or another platform, your reviews will help you get a better understanding of what future clients want to see in your practice. Research has shown that 87% of consumers use online reviews to inform their decision-making.
That said, managing your firm’s client reviews can take up a lot of time and energy. That is why you should consider investing in a review manager. Review management software will allow you to address all of your online listings and reviews in one place. It also often comes with advanced filtering for your reviews to help you efficiently manage your time. Workflow templates, bulk response capabilities, and other tools are designed to help you respond quickly and can even help you boost your rankings.
In this article, we will discuss why attorney reviews are important for your law firm’s reputation and how you can efficiently and effectively use online tools to maintain them.
Why Are Reviews Important?
Online attorney reviews are important to your law firm’s brand recognition and reputation for a few reasons.
1. Reviews shape potential clients’ first impressions of your law firm.
Online reviews form the backbone of your firm’s online footprint. They give potential clients an overview of your law firm, answering critical questions such as:
- What made clients the most satisfied when working with your law firm?
- Are you a trustworthy attorney?
- Are you an experienced attorney?
- Did you exceed your clients’ expectations?
- What did clients value the most when working with your law firm?
- How does your law firm compare to competitors? What makes you different?
Although potential clients will probably read older reviews, they will most likely be focusing on recent reviews to get a better idea of what working with you will be like. According to a 2020 survey by BrightLocal, 73% of clients pay attention to reviews written in the last month. As such, you need to pay close attention to your new reviews. Make sure you have replied to all outstanding queries and complaints. Consumers these days are savvier than those from 20 or even 10 years ago, so they expect companies to be as transparent as possible.
2. Reviews boost your search engine ranking.
Online reviews also make your law firm more visible on search engines like Google and Bing. The more reviews you have, the more search engines will favor you and keep you at the top of search results. This, in turn, will encourage both potential clients and search engine algorithms to see your website as an authority in the legal industry, leading to more exposure.
3. Reviews help you improve your law firm.
Finally, reviews can help you improve your law firm. Since current and past clients can review your firm, you’ll get to see how you’ve progressed over the years and how you can continue to improve. Positive reviews can help you pinpoint your strengths, while negative reviews can help you identify and address issues that you might not have been capable of spotting yourself.
5 Key Reasons You Need a Review Manager
So now that we’ve reconfirmed why client reviews are essential to the growth of your firm, let’s take a look at how review managers can help you get your arms around your reviews to proactively manage your online reputation.
#1: Review managers do more than just manage reviews.
One of the main reasons people get review managers is to manage client reviews. However, review managers also provide other functions.
Review managers can help you strengthen the communication between your firm and your client base, which is an important component of an effective online reputation management (ORM) strategy. Besides helping you amass, sort, and reply to client reviews, review managers can also help people find accurate information about your firm when they need it. For instance, both Avvo’s Review Manager and Martindale-Hubbell’s Reputation Boost monitor and identify missing and duplicate listings of your business so you can boost visibility, reduce confusion and improve search engine ranking. That way, you can ensure that potential clients know who you really are and what services you provide.
#2: Review managers help control your law firm’s reputation.
Many attorneys believe that their online reputation is beyond their control, since they cannot stop people from writing reviews. As such, they think that there’s no point in investing in a review manager.
While it is true that you can’t stop someone from posting negative reviews or comments, you can choose to react to them in a certain way as well as react promptly. A good review manager will alert you when reviews about your firm have been published so you can respond accordingly. Research has shown that polite, timely, and well-written responses to bad reviews can mitigate reputational damage. By addressing their concerns, you may also be able to convert dissatisfied clients into satisfied ones who will stay with you in the long term.
When responding to a negative online review or comment, keep the following in mind:
- Respond after you have cooled down.
- Never ignore negative reviews.
- Avoid being emotional and write in an objective, polite manner.
- Contact the client privately if you want to find out more about why they wrote the negative review.
To save time and energy spent on replying to negative reviews and comments, consider getting a review manager. Review managers come with custom templates that enable you to reply as quickly as possible. Some, like Avvo’s Review Manager, even have rotating templates that you can use to respond in bulk, although this is not a best practice for responding to negative reviews, which are best handled by individual, personalized responses.
#3: Review managers provide important data insights.
Robust review managers allow you to quickly see trends regarding your review count and average rating. Reviews will be categorized by providers, such as Google or Facebook, so you can quickly see reviews responded to and the number of reviews by rating. You can compare yourself to your competitors as well as track trends in review over time. Having access to this data and metrics will help you focus on where your firm can maintain or improve practices to keep clients happy.
#4: Review managers supplement your current reputation management plan.
Review managers aren’t a plan in and of themselves. They simply make it easier for you to stay on top of your online reputation by providing you with timely updates when new reviews appear so you can respond. As mentioned previously, some of these tools also give you the ability to manage your online directory listings, ensuring accuracy and consistency across all of the places these listings appear online, as well as helping you identify where key listings may be missing.
Consider partnering with legal marketing firms like Martindale-Avvo to develop a robust ORM plan that will attract and convert long-term clients for your firm.
#5: And, because you can’t just delete online reviews…
Finally, you may believe that review managers aren’t necessary because you can just delete bad online reviews.
Unfortunately, you cannot simply delete negative reviews. On Google, you can flag a negative review as “inappropriate” if the review violates Google’s policies, but they will only remove a negative review if you can prove that it is spam, libelous, or written by your competitor. In other words, valid negative reviews are there to stay. Additionally, deleting negative reviews may damage your firm’s reputation. People generally expect to see a mix of good and bad reviews, which means a firm that only has good reviews may be perceived as less credible.
As customer testimonials and reviews spread throughout the internet, it has become increasingly important for law firms to manage their online reviews. If you aren’t caught up with your reviews and are complacent about them, you will not be able to attract the clients you deserve.
To cut down on the time and energy spent replying to comments and reviews, consider getting Avvo’s Review Manager by becoming an Avvo Advanced member. Armed with a variety of features, our review manager empowers you to manage your online reviews and listings from one dashboard. Learn more about Avvo’s Review Manager and how you can use it to boost your brand reputation by contacting us at Martindale-Avvo. We are a full-service legal marketing firm that provides a wide range of services and products, including reputation management for attorneys, retainer services, website design, lead intake software, and more.