Get in touch to discuss how we can help you generate more business for your firm.
Home » Insights » Mastering the art of online reviews
When was the last time you purchased something online from a business you’ve never used before?
Before you added the item to your basket, I bet that you looked at the reviews – or, at the very least, the number of stars the product had for its rating.
Was it 4.5, or perhaps even just 4 out of 5?
It probably wouldn’t have been 3 stars or less. And it’s highly unlikely there were no reviews at all.
20% of online consumers were not asked to leave a review by a business last year. This is a wasted opportunity for companies to not only gain valuable insights but to improve their online credibility.
For law firms, positive reviews can attract new clients and retain existing ones, while negative reviews can damage a firm’s reputation and deter potential clients. It’s therefore essential that law firms understand the value of online reviews and know how to generate positive reviews time and again.
In this insights piece, we look at how law firms can acquire reviews, where to get reviews, and how to respond to negative reviews. If you’re looking to improve your online reputation, get in touch with our team today.
Having spoken with many lawyers and law firm leaders about their online presence over the years, it’s surprising the number who don’t think reviews count for much.
5-star reviews have allowed several of our law firm clients to win new business they wouldn’t otherwise have won.
Here are just some of the facts of online reviews:
Generating positive reviews can be challenging, especially for law firms with a limited client base. To help you generate more positive reviews, we’ve provided best practice for what your law firm should do before you receive a review, when you receive a review, and after you’ve received a review:
Timing is crucial when soliciting reviews. Reach out to your clients shortly after you’ve provided a legal service while the experience is still fresh in their minds. Consider sending an email to prompt clients to leave a review (we’ll discuss this later).
Responding to reviews, both positive and negative, shows clients that you value their feedback and are committed to providing an exceptional service. Responding to negative reviews in a professional and constructive manner can also help mitigate the impact of a negative review.
Regularly monitoring and analysing reviews can help law firms identify areas for improvement and show prospective clients that you are actively listening and engaging with customer feedback.
By following these best practices, law firms can generate more positive reviews, improve their reputation, and attract more clients.
Google is the most used and trusted platform for reviews, followed by Yelp and Facebook. As such, reviews on your Google Business Profile are by far the most important.
For Google Business Profile, the following screenshots of a search for ‘divorce lawyer los angeles’ (in the more competitive US online space) demonstrates the importance of having a good, healthy number of 5-star reviews from your clients:-
The ‘snackpack’ of the top three local firms appears for most local searches online for a lawyer. See for instance this search for the best divorce lawyer in London:-
The more 5-star Google Reviews your firm can acquire, ideally with relevant text from the client saying what your firm did especially well, the better for your online reputation, your search rankings, and for increasing your conversion rates.
To learn more about how to improve your Google Business Profile, read our insights piece on How law firms can make the most of Google Search, where we provide our 8-step checklist.
But how do clients provide a Google Review? Don’t they need a Gmail or Google account?
The answer is yes, unfortunately they do. And that’s what limits your ability to acquire many reviews.
The better you can communicate this to your clients, letting them know how they can access or set up such an account (if they don’t have one), the better your chances of acquiring a review will be.
We’ve spoken with many lawyers and inhouse legal marketers about building the perfect process for putting your Google Reviews acquisition strategy on autopilot.
There are always slight nuances and tailored approaches per firm, but one of the most effective approaches we’ve seen is as follows, which not only helps acquire more, better online reviews, but also allows firms to improve their client service standards:-
Personalise your request by addressing clients by name and mentioning the service you worked on together. This shows that you value their feedback and are committed to providing an exceptional service.
If you are going to email a client about leaving a review, consider who is asking for it. We know it can be tempting to ask someone else to send the email once a case completes, but experience tells us that clients don’t like strangers asking them for favours.
Remember, the best person to ask for a review is the person the client has spoken to the most.
Be polite and respectful in your request for a review. Thank clients for their business and for considering leaving a review, regardless of whether they choose to leave one.
It’s always worthwhile to send a follow-up email to clients who haven’t left a review yet. A gentle reminder can be enough to prompt clients to leave a review.
Consider using a template for your review request emails to ensure that your request is clear and professional. With two decades of helping law firms succeed online, we have created a template email that our clients use to ask their clients for reviews – access your free Google Review Request email template now.
Acquiring reviews doesn’t always need to be directed at the specific client – a subtle reminder could be all it takes. A link to your reviews page could be added into your email signatures, or in the footer of a newsletter for example. Use text such as ‘Have we helped you? Help others to find us by leaving a Google Review!’
We know asking for reviews can feel awkward, but it’s worth the pain. The more positive reviews your firm has, the greater your online presence and reputation, ultimately, leading to more and higher quality enquiries.
Best practice is to remain neutral and impartial when it comes to acquiring online reviews. Clients sometimes ask us if it’s possible to offer vouchers or rewards for online reviews.
Our advice is not to, particularly given ethical considerations and obligations, from the points of view of both the legal profession and the online platform where the reviews are being housed.
One of the best examples we’ve seen is with conveyancing. When a client receives the keys to their new house, they are at their most likely for submitting an online review.
Indeed, we’ve heard of some of our most savvy law firm partner clients asking for the review in person at that point.
On the contrary, achieving a great outcome for a divorce client or a criminal client probably won’t typically sway their decision to leave an online review – their privacy needs will mean they are less likely to post anything online about their transaction, except for perhaps an anonymous testimonial.
As the stats above show, an increasing number of people who provide an online review expect to hear back, even for their positive reviews.
It’s good practice to reply to all positive and negative reviews with a tailored and sincere message.
Negative reviews are best answered without going into the substance of the complaint but certainly to acknowledge the message and to try to take the discussion about it offline, for instance onto a call with the client care partner involved in the matter.
This is one of our most frequently asked questions we hear in respect of online reviews. And rightly so, given the impact on your online reputation.
It’s largely up to the online platform whether the review stands. For negative online reviews on your Google Business Profile, you can flag it to Google but, ultimately, it’s up to Google to remove. Their policies can be read here.
We are seeing an increasing number of fake online reviews being given to law firms on multiple channels. It’s worth noting that such fake reviews can happen to your firm online whether you are active in seeking online reviews or not.
As such, it’s always better to take a proactive approach to managing your online presence.
Once you acquire a healthy number of Google reviews, you can promote these further on your website, for instance by writing a new post that highlights some of the best ones or showcasing a number count and star rating.
At a more advanced level, there are ways of having your Google star rating automatically updated on your website.
To conclude this article, here are our 3 top tips for gaining online reviews:
Ask for a review when a good thing happens. You are much more likely to get a response from a customer right after their positive experience with your firm.
Focus on your Google Business Profile. Businesses with a high rating of Google reviews are five times more likely to be considered reputable by consumers, according to Moz. Take advantage of this and ensure your Profile is receiving positive reviews.
Make leaving a review as easy as possible. If the process for writing a review is difficult, chances are that your clients will give up. By providing clear instructions of what they need to do (as listed in our email template), you are more likely to acquire reviews on a regular basis.
If you would like to discuss your law firm’s approach to online reviews and indeed your growth ambitions generally, we’d be delighted to speak with you.