Ask any lawyer: Gaining public trust is a pain point that sometimes feels insurmountable. According to a Princeton University study, lawyers are seen as some of the most competent professionals – but they are also the least trusted. In addition, a 2018 Gallup poll survey revealed that 28 percent of people believe lawyers to have low ethical standards.
It’s a fact that professionals in this industry are often viewed with skepticism by the general public. And as a result, attorney reputation management is highly challenging for most law firms. All it takes is one inaccurate, defamatory online review from a dissatisfied client to negatively influence the public’s perception of your legal services. So it’s imperative that you control and oversee the conversations about your practice – or you – online.
The good news is that attorneys who have managed to maintain a good reputation gain customer trust quickly and easily. And in the digital age, one of the most significant players in maintaining a positive reputation for your law firm is online reviews.
Any lawyer can start leveraging the power of online reviews to maintain a good reputation or rebuild a tarnished one. This blog unpacks the best practices for gathering, monitoring and managing customer reviews. We also discuss how to respond to negative reviews and how to rebuild trust with your disgruntled customers.
Online Reputation Management Best Practices for Lawyers
Attorney reputation management is a monumental task. Although it’s an important step towards building customer trust and social proof, many legal professionals would not have the time or resources to handle online reviews and customer feedback.
Online reputation management (ORM) involves a lot of work and usually requires a dedicated team to carry out review monitoring and review generation tasks.
But ORM is something all lawyers must invest in to maintain a good reputation online and generate more reviews. It’s 100 percent worth it, because the right ORM strategies reinforce your lead generation efforts, too. Family Lawyer Magazine reports that 83 percent of people check lawyer reviews as their first step to finding a lawyer, so the importance of these reviews cannot be overstated.
That said, let’s dive into best practices in law firm reputation management and review generation:
Make It Easy for Customers To Leave Reviews
Clients won’t leave reviews if it is too much effort for them to do so. For this reason, you have to make the review gathering as easy as possible. Here’s how:
- Add a direct link to review sites in your follow-up email: All your clients have to do is click the link, which will immediately direct them to the review site.
- Optimize your website for reviews: You can add a “Leave a Review” tab on your site’s navigation bar or have it prominently displayed on your homepage.
- Mention the time required: Always include a time qualifier in your review solicitation. For example, “It only takes two minutes to leave us a review.” They will be more willing to do it when they know that leaving a review won’t take up too much of their time.
Only Ask for Online Customer Reviews From Your Clients
Getting client reviews takes time and patience, but the worst thing you could do is take a shortcut and pay a service to write positive reviews for your firm. All this would serve to do is hurt what is already a widely second-guessed position of credibility. Online consumers are smart enough to spot a fake review, and if they notice you are gaining an inordinate amount of testimonials a day, they will trust you less.
There’s never a good reason to resort to fraudulent behavior. Instead, only ask for reviews from people who have received your services. The progress might be slow, but you strengthen your firm’s credibility and gain customer trust, making lawyer reputation management more seamless.
Respond to Reviews Promptly
It is essential to respond to reviews as soon as possible. A prompt response shows that your firm cares about its clients and that your services are worthy of their trust.
The following are the general guidelines in responding to reviews and building customer relationships:
- Thank the client: Make sure to mention your client’s name, the name of your practice and the service you did for them. For example: “Thank you, James, for choosing Walker & Davis LLB to prepare your contract of sale!”
- Keep the message short: Your response should be concise and shouldn’t take more than a minute to read.
- Invite them back: Always include an invite for them to come back. For example: “You can always call us if you need legal help in the future! We’d be happy to hear from you.”
Respond to Negative Comments
Negative comments about your law services are inevitable. So while it is tempting to only respond to positive reviews, dealing with negative feedback is also an essential part of law firm reputation management.
When you receive negative comments, it’s important not to overreact. Often, a firm that only has positive ratings will set off alarm bells. Having a mix of positive and negative reviews is a more realistic picture of your law firm’s service delivery and will make your brand appear authentic and credible.
Follow these guidelines on how to respond to negative reviews when managing your law firm reputation management:
- Acknowledge: Don’t deny the complaint, even if you disagree with what the client says in their review. Make sure to thank them for bringing the issue to your attention. A good starting statement would read like this: “Thank you for your feedback, James. We appreciate your informing us about this issue.”
- Apologize: Even if no mistake was made on your part, always take the high road. Emphasize that you are sorry for their dissatisfaction.
- Give the option to continue the conversation in private: This indicates that you are willing to assist with the issue. You can also get insights on how to rebuild trust and improve your services in the future based on their response.
Above all, you must be thoughtful in your responses when building customer relationships. When you make a mistake, you risk breaking your customer’s trust, which is not easy to mend. Sometimes apologizing won’t suffice.
So, how to rebuild trust? Here are some suggestions:
- Communicate: Lawyers are used to delivering information, but you also have to listen to your client’s concerns. Be open to answering their questions and hearing their opinions.
- Respond promptly: When your clients have problems, make sure to respond as soon as possible. A prompt response is vital to rebuilding trust with clients.
- Manage expectations: Lawyers want to provide the best service, but honesty is also essential. It’s crucial you manage your client’s expectations and don’t get their hopes up.
Work With Reputation Management Experts
Review monitoring alone takes up a lot of time, and for lawyers, time is a limited resource. But hiring a team of reputation management experts solves that issue.
Leave your online review management to the professionals. The right online reputation management company will develop a data-driven reputation management solution tailored to engage your firm’s target audience. These experts use the most advanced online reputation management software to streamline your review collection and management processes. Using a reputation management tool will make it easier to get high-quality online customer reviews that your target clientele can trust.
Experts in online reputation management companies are equipped to handle dissatisfied customers and rebuild relationships. They know how to respond to negative reviews without further tarnishing your reputation and use them as an opportunity to recover lost trust.
Bonus: The Importance of Online Reviews in Search Engine Optimization
The importance of online reviews does not end at building trustworthiness and credibility with your current clients. They are also an essential component of your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Online reviews are considered the fifth-most significant parameter that determines the rank of a business, according to Moz.
Reviews are also a form of user-generated content (UGC). Every time a client leaves a review, search engines are provided with fresh content to crawl. The client review will most likely contain relevant keywords, helping search engines understand what your firm does. With this information, search engines rank you higher on the search engine result pages (SERPs).
Moreover, online reviews help reduce your site’s bounce rate, which is the percentage of visitors who exit your site after viewing only one page. A high bounce rate hurts your website’s ranking. If your site has online reviews, users are more likely to spend more time browsing and reading through what your previous clients are saying about your legal services.
We cannot underline the importance of online reviews for lawyers enough. Law firms should be proactive in collecting and managing reviews and incorporating this content into their SEO strategies. This makes for a well-rounded attorney reputation management methodology.
With the proper support from online reputation management companies, law firms can effectively manage their online reputation and start building customer relationships that last.
Do you need help with review monitoring and managing your online reputation? You can entrust it all to Rize Reviews. We are a recognized leader in lawyer reputation management. Our team offers ORM solutions to give your firm a positive online presence using the industry’s best reputation management tool.
Get in touch with us today to learn more about how you can leverage our online reputation management software to produce the best outcomes for your law firm.