What They Don’t Teach You In Law School: Value of Client Reviews and Testimonials
There are many lessons to be learned in law school when it comes to practising the law, but what they don’t teach you are the ins and outs of running a business in the digital world.
We all know how Google works: a customer types in the name of your law firm or the problem they need solved, and then just like magic, a list of perfectly relevant links and articles appear for them to explore. Law firms typically follow this linear understanding of digital marketing and invest in SEO agencies to improve their ranking on search engines — but what if I told you there was another way? Not only to increase traffic to your website and generate high-value leads, but to do it without spending a single dollar?
If you haven’t guessed it already, Google My Business is a geo-marketing tool that helps customers find your business location, office hours, phone number and more. If you’re looking to rank higher and catch the attention of future clients, this is where you’ll want to start. It’s important to note that the two most significant records for searches about your firm are generally your Google My Business listing and then your website, in that order.
But having an active listing isn’t enough. The real treasure lies in cultivating a powerhouse of reviews, so that potential clients can get a real feel for who you are, what you do and, most importantly, why they should hire you over your competition.
Understanding social proof
Everyone knows it’s necessary to get reviews, but it’s equally as important to know why. The answer is social proof — the concept that people will follow the actions of others. The idea is simple — since so many people are behaving in a certain way, it must be right.
Even before the onset of a global pandemic, there has been a shift in the way people make their financial decisions. Instead of relying on family and friends for guidance and advice, more time is being spent in forums and review pages. People are exploring conversations online about everything, and that includes your future clients.
Over 70 percent of customers look at reviews before making a substantial purchase, and over 90 percent of survey participants were influenced in their buying decisions by positive reviews, which is huge. There are many ways to use the concept of social proof in your marketing efforts but they all revolve around showcasing just how much people like the services you are offering.
Positive reviews and client testimonials are a great source of social proof. It proves that you are a legitimate law firm, that you have a client base and that you provide high quality services. This can work wonders, as potential clients are more likely to believe testimonials from real people than the carefully constructed copy on your website and advertisements.
How to get reviews for your law firm
Don’t be afraid to ask for a review from a happy client. The best way to get in the habit of asking for feedback is if you remain consistent with your approach. Add it to your checklist as you close a matter for a client or proactively set up a short and polite e-mail template that you can send off with a link to your review pages.
Be careful not to become heavy handed with your request. The reason online reviews are so effective is because they are perceived as being genuine and authentic. It would be unwise to tell your clients what they should be writing, but there are ways to prompt them towards sharing their story in a meaningful way that is both ethical and beneficial for your online ranking.
Have them consider answering questions regarding the before, the during and the after by asking open-ended questions such as “What was the problem you needed solved?” “How was your experience working with our law firm?” and “Did you get the results you wanted?” This will ensure that you get an empowering review encompassing details of your personality and the journey your team created for your clients. As always, bonus points for any reviews with keywords; search engines will eat these up as they act as an additional SEO tool and help you rank higher in search results.
How to respond to a bad review
Slips happen and there is no way to stop people from writing a bad review. Bad reviews can be devastating to your law firm’s reputation. Leaving a single review site unattended could mean that a negative review may go unnoticed by you for a few months but widely read and considered by hundreds of potential clients.
To avoid a bad review, make an honest effort to provide exceptional customer service, regular communication and reasonable expectations from the very beginning.
If all else fails, consider the mantra for lawyers of the digital age to be “to combat bad press, you must bury it beneath mounds of good press.” A rule of thumb to maintaining a healthy balance would be to cultivate at least five excellent reviews for every poor or mediocre review on your profile.
There are two types of negative reviews you may experience: one from a competitor or rival who is looking to drive your ranking down with a one-star rating and the other is a review from a client who had a negative experience with your firm.
In both cases, the best way to respond is with the intention of resolving the issue. Ignoring bad reviews or retaliating with anger will only escalate the problem and in turn, reflect poorly on the professionalism of your brand.
Reviews can be updated, and doing everything in your power to resolve the issue may lead to your client changing their review (though, it’s not advisable to ask for that). Build a relationship with the disgruntled customer and have a conversation to make things better
Responding to a positive review can be done with a warm “thank you,” but when it comes to negative reviews it can be beneficial to consider the perspective of the person who wrote it before hitting save. The one thing to avoid is being too defensive, just like you would recommend to your clients, it’s best to seek advice from a marketing professional and prepare an arsenal of positive reviews to counter any negative ones.
No matter how you feel about reviews, there is no doubt that they are the new “word-of-mouth.” If asking for reviews hasn’t been a part of your customer service process so far, it’s time to add them to the mix as a great way to ensure your law firm has a beating pulse in this new tech-driven industry we call practising the law.
This article was originally posted in The Lawyer's Daily