When I started practicing law in 1993, the only way to research and find other lawyers was (a) word-of-mouth; (b) a listing in Martindale Hubbell’s printed volumes, or (c) the yellow pages. Today, many people conduct research online to select a lawyer, and part of that research includes online reviews for lawyers. If you’re ignoring online reviews for your law practice, then you are missing out on a significant online marketing opportunity.
I’ve long since lost count of how many times clients have told me that they came to my law firm based upon positive online reviews. You don’t have to take my word for it. There are various surveys such as one conducted by Software Advice, Inc., that a whopping 83 percent of prospective clients use online consumer reviews as the first step to find a lawyer. Also, approximately 50 percent of potential clients use online reviews to research a lawyer’s quality of services. Lastly, studies show that 70 percent of clients are willing to commute to hire a lawyer based on whether the lawyer had better reviews and higher ratings.
In this article, I’ll cover some simple tips for gathering online reviews including a sample request for a client review. Also, I’ll list some best practices for responding to positive reviews, negative reviews, and “black hat” reviews.
What is the Best Way to Get Online Reviews for Your Law Firm?
The answer is really simple – just ask your clients. Having said that, just asking isn’t enough. You need to make it easy for your clients to leave you a review by giving them specific, easy-to-follow, instructions. The most effective way is to send your client an email asking for the review and inserting links to the sites where you would like them to leave a review such as Yelp, Google Plus, and Facebook. Here is an example of an email I use for my clients:
I want to thank you for putting your trust in me and my firm to help you. We hope you never have to go through another similar experience, but there are always other persons out there that need help but don’t know where to turn. That’s why I would truly appreciate an online review from you to let others know that they can trust in us too.
Please visit the following sites to leave a review or comment:
Google reviews are especially helpful to keeping our law firm thriving so we can continue to provide service to the community.
If you already have a Google account, such as Gmail, you can go to: INSERT YOUR GOOGLE BUSINESS PAGE URL HERE
Login and click on the “Write a review” link.
Go to: INSERT YOUR FACEBOOK BUSINESS PAGE URL HERE
1 Please “Like” our Page.
2 Go to “Reviews” on the left side of our Page’s Timeline
3 Click the “Write Review” button
4 Click the gray stars to choose a rating and write an optional review
5 Click “Public” or “Friends” to select your audience
6 Click Post
Many people look up lawyers on Yelp, so a review here is very helpful.
Go to: INSERT YOUR YELP BUSINESS PAGE URL HERE
Click on the “Write a review” link.
What are the Best Sites for Your Clients to Leave You an Online Review?
There are many websites that allow consumers to leave reviews for lawyers. Some of those sites market to lawyer themselves such as Avvo, Lawyers.com, Super Lawyers, and more. However, if you focus on nothing else, then focus on Yelp, Google, and Facebook. You may be surprised that I mentioned Yelp. In fact, according to the survey I mentioned, Yelp is the No. 1 consumer review site for peopling choosing lawyers.
What are the Best Practices for a Lawyer to Manage Online Reviews?
Maintain Your Listings – First and foremost, claim your listings (such as in Yelp) and complete your profiles. If anything changes, such as your address or phone number, then keep your listings up-to-date.
Respond to Reviews – Whether a review is positive or negative, you should always respond to it. By responding, you are demonstrating that you are actively engaged with your clients and that you care about your online reputation. Also, responding to reviews is the polite thing to do.
Responding to Positive Reviews – Responding to positive reviews is easy. Here is a sample response for any client who leaves you a positive review:
Dear Client, thank you kindly for taking the time out of your day to leave our firm a review. We welcome feedback, and it is always nice to hear when we have met a client’s expectations. If you or someone you know ever needs a lawyer, we’re always here to help.
Responding to Negative Reviews – Of course, the best way to avoid a negative review is to give your client’s the best service possible. However, there are always those clients who, no matter what you do, will be dissatisfied with your services. Also, there are those cases that, for reasons out of your control, the outcome did not meet the client’s expectations. In other words, in time, you are bound to get a negative review.
When responding to a negative review, don’t let your pride get in the way of responding professionally. The worst thing you can do is trade barbs online with a former or current client who has maligned you online. Keep your response generic (to preserve client confidentiality) and professional. Also, invite the reviewer to contact you privately to address their concerns.
To help you get an idea of an appropriate response, here is a sample response to a negative review:
Dear Client. We sincerely thank you for leaving your review. As much as we’d like to receive nothing but glowing reviews, we welcome all feedback. Feedback such as yours allows us to take into consideration our clients’ concerns and experiences and to improve on our service. If you would like to speak with us privately and confidentially about the issues you mentioned in your review, we would definitely like to hear from you in person.
Responding to “Black Hat” Reviews – For some of our customers, we deal with “black hat” reviews from persons who are not genuine clients of the lawyer or the law firm. These persons pose as a client to leave bad reviews. Some of these persons may be the party on the other side of the case or their friends or family. In some instances, these persons are actually hired to target a law firm’s competitors to leave negative reviews. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to stop this behavior. Sites such as Yelp and Facebook aren’t very helpful in removing black hat reviews. If you can’t get the review removed, then here is a sample professional response to a black hat review that alerts other readers that the review isn’t genuine.
Dear Reviewer, thank you for your review. Although we have no record of you being a former or current client of our law firm, we welcome all feedback.