It’s happened. Somehow, a client you thought was satisfied left you a review that is less than stellar. You don’t believe it’s accurate, but you don’t want to make the situation worse. Your next move is crucial. Here’s how to manage a small law firm’s online reviews, both good and bad.
Why are online reviews for small law firms so important?
BrightLocal, a company who analyzes the impact of online business reviews, found in a 2017 study that 84% of people trust an online review as much as (or more than) a personal recommendation.
Online reviews bring business in the door, with average revenues increasing by as much as 9% with each star added to their rating. Unsurprisingly, 49% of people avoid businesses with ratings that are lower than four stars.
Still unconvinced? How about this: Google survey found that 96% of consumers looking for legal advice started their search online.
Add this stat to the number of people following the stars, and you can see why online business reviews are crucial for your small law firm! Your potential clients are already looking for you online. Reviews make that easier.
How to get more good reviews
Active management of online reviews simply means that you have to make it easy for your happy clients to leave reviews. Start by making it a policy to always ask them for reviews. Remind them. Send direct links. Don’t give incentives, but explain how it can help other potential clients find out about the services you provide.
Sending happy clients directly to Yelp, Facebook, and other review sites is as easy as adding a button to your website or setting up an email. This type of SEO for law firms tactic can help boost your search presence online while driving more clients to your door.
The benefits of bad reviews
Yes, of course you want every review to be positive, but even if a review isn’t what you’d like, the way you manage it can turn everything around.
When you craft a careful, empathetic response to even the most negative review, your potential customers will see that you are listening to them. Your active online presence, the way you respond, and your willingness to find a solution all point to a law firm that understands client relationships.
While you cannot address specific disagreements online due to confidentiality, following up on a bad review opens the door for future contact and conflict resolution. And, as a lawyer, you’re already a master at that.
How to manage online reviews on Google
The most common review site may be Google, but we’ve include information below for specific sites like Yelp, Avvo, and more. Regardless of the platform, managing all online reviews should follow the same basic guidelines.
1. Stay professional
No matter the review, keep your tone professional.
Overly emotional responses either way will not win you any fans. Remember that you are the level-headed expert. Show that through this (free!) online platform.
2. Be gracious for the good reviews and empathetic for the bad
When someone leaves you a glowing review, thank them sincerely.
When things don’t go your way, offer an empathetic response along with an invitation to talk in person or over the phone.
3. If you can, offer solutions
Because you have to respect confidentiality, you may not be able to offer detailed solutions online. But you can offer something: an opportunity to talk in person, fix the problem, or a recommendation to follow up.
4. Respond consistently
You do important work, and responding to reviews can be challenging. Set yourself a regular schedule for responses and stick to it. Depending on how many reviews you have, it may be an hour once a week, every other day, or once a month. (And if you don’t have many reviews to respond to, take this time to reach out to your existing clients and ask for theirs!)
This is an easy way to demonstrate your reliability and responsiveness. Plus, many customers judge a business on whether or not they reply to reviews.
The most important thing to keep in mind with Yelp is that they expressly forbid offering incentives for reviews (and tell consumers to report businesses who try that). You can simply ask for reviews, however, without violating their terms of agreement.
Another important thing to note is that sometimes reviews can disappear into the “not recommended” filter. This occurs when a reviewer isn’t very active on Yelp. If a client leaves a positive review that disappears, scroll to the bottom of the page, and look for light gray text that says “# other reviews that are not recommended.”
These hidden reviews do not impact your score, which is a blessing if a one-star review comes your way, but a curse when a five star review goes unnoticed. If you can, add the reviewer as a friend and mark their review as helpful to boost the chances of retrieving those five-star accolades from the filter.
Of course, reviews that violate Yelp’s content guidelines can be submitted for review and possibly be removed.
Thankfully, if a review is fake, there is a process to remove it.
How to manage online reviews on Facebook
Facebook Reviews automatically turn on when a business page is associated with a local address.
While you can respond to reviews on your Facebook page, you cannot remove an individual review. Your only option is to completely dismantle the review setting on your Facebook page through the Admin Panel.