Video Transcription:

My name is Andrew Stickel, and I’ve partnered with lawyer.com to bringing you this free guide to getting five-star reviews for your law firm. In the real world, no one wants to work with an average law firm if they have access to a better one. After all, why dine in Waffle House if you can afford Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse. People are able to distinguish one law firm from the best by looking at what other people who’ve already worked with the law firm have to say about them. Most people assume that if other people had a good experience, then they will as well. Surveys suggest that as many as 82% of people that are searching online for a lawyer pay attention to their reviews. So, it’s really important that you have great ones.

In fact, most people feel the information found in reviews carries just as much weight as if a friend had personally recommended the law firm to them. Online reviews have become a mainstay in all aspects of our life, not just looking for a law firm. Think back to the last purchase you made on Amazon, or the last time you went out to a restaurant, and you checked them out on Yelp beforehand. Did the reviews influence your purchase? I’ll bet they did. Not only that, the last time you were shopping on Amazon where there was two similar products, and they had similar reviews, did the quantity of reviews that each product have come into play? They probably did.

When products or services have equal ratings typically, the one with more reviews will win. This is called social proof. If people see others having a positive experience with a product or service, they believe they will too. The bottom line is that in today’s society, you need positive reviews because people are paying attention to what other people are saying about you. In this video, you will learn how to get clients motivated to get a review about you. How to get a client to leave a review with one click? How to get reviews even if clients won’t leave them? How to handle negative reviews without looking like a jerk? How to dissuade negative reviewers before they leave a review, and how to use reviews to increase the rankings of your website?

First of all, you must make sure that people are actually able to leave a review for you on Google. If you don’t have a Google My Business profile, visit business.google.com and set up a profile today. If you have multiple locations, you’ll need to set up a profile for each location. It’s important to get a minimal of five reviews for each location. Next, you need to understand the obstacles that you may face when trying to get reviews and how to avoid them. The biggest obstacle to obtaining a great review is getting the right people to leave them.

Let’s face it, leaving a review just isn’t easy, and it contains a lot of steps that can be very frustrating, especially for a person that’s not extremely technical. Often, something as simple as not being able to leave a password is enough to deter somebody from leaving a review, even if they think the world of you. However, when somebody’s upset with you, they’ll do whatever it takes to leave a bad review, just so they can tell the world how bad of an attorney they really think you are.

Unfortunately, even if the client thinks that you provided the best representation, and you won them a bazillion dollars in their car accident case, that still might not be enough for them to leave you a review even if they want to.

When it comes to making the time to leave a review, often clients will ask themselves what’s in it for me? Even if it’s subconsciously. However, when a client or a customer is mad the reward or what’s in it for them, is they get to vent and take revenge on the law firm. They’re totally motivated to leave you a negative review. I’m sure that you’ve experienced on more than one occasion, a happy client who swears they’ll leave you a review, and they just never do, but have you ever actually thought about why they don’t leave you a review?

Consider this, often the only reward for a person that leaves you a positive review is a positive feeling that they’ve helped you out. However, they’ll often get this feeling right away after they tell you that they’re going to leave you a positive review. This makes it less likely that they will actually leave the review. Derek Sivers gave a great Ted Talk about this very subject. In his talk, he discusses how scientists found that if you have a goal and you tell somebody about it, you’ll immediately get the feeling as if you’ve accomplished that goal, and that makes it less likely that you’ll actually achieve your goal. This same concept can be applied to the positive feeling that somebody gets by telling you that they’re going to leave you a five-star review.

The best way to overcome this deterrent is to make sure that the client knows there’s something in it for them if they leave you a review. Now relax, I’m not talking about bribery. Instead, I’m merely suggesting offering a small token of your appreciation, such as a Starbucks gift card, a Target gift card, a restaurant gift card, in exchange for them taking the time to leave you a review. Notice, I didn’t say an exchange for a five-star review, just for leaving a review. As a note, you should definitely check state laws, and your bar association rules to make sure that you’re in compliance, but you’re a lawyer, c’mon you can figure out a way to be creative and make this work.

Now, here’s how to get clients to leave a review with just one click. Getting a client to agree to leave you a positive review is difficult enough, so it’s essential that you make the process extremely easy for them. Here’s how to eliminate as many clicks as possible:

Step one, search for your law firm name ensuring that the knowledge graph appears on the right side of the screen. Step two, click write a review which will open the review light box. Step three, once the light box is opened copy the URL in its entirety. Step four, visit bit.ly. Step five, paste the URL into the box and click create. Step six, copy the resulting URL into an email and send the URL to your clients to leave you reviews. When the client clicks the link, they’ll be taken directly to the light box eliminating the need for them to find your profile or even attempt to locate the write a review button. If the client has a Gmail address, definitely send it directly to that email address. This ensures that they’re already logged in to their Google account. You can also use this trick to eliminate the steps needed to leave a review on many other review sites including Yelp and Avvo.

Now, when someone actually leaves a review, it’s important that you log in to your Google My Business profile, click on the reviews tab, and then thank them for leaving a review. Not only does this reflect positively for you as a business, but it also shows Google that the review is not spam and makes it less likely that it’ll be flagged. Google sometimes marks reviews as spam because it doesn’t deem them as legitimate. The last thing you want is to get somebody to finally leave you a review, only to have it marked as spam. If the business interacts with the review in a timely manner, it’s much less likely to be flagged as spam. This process is quick and painless.

When someone leaves a review, you should get an email with the subject that says, someone just left you a positive review. Once you get this email, you can respond immediately. All you have to do is thank them for being a valued client and move on to the next review. It’s a good idea to check reviews periodically because I found that there are times when Google does not send an email. Yelp is another trusted source of reviews that should not be ignored. However, if you don’t frequently receive reviews on Yelp, don’t ask clients to leave reviews very often. Yelp doesn’t particularly want you asking clients for reviews, they want reviews to appear naturally. When Yelp’s filter detects the reviews that are being solicited, the reviews get filtered out, and labeled not recommended. We once had a client fail to listen to our advice, they got 15 reviews in one week, and all reviews were not recommended. Needless to say, the client was not happy.

Now, here’s a piece of advice that Yelp does not want us to tell you and I’m being serious, they terminated our partnership relationship with them because I was giving out this advice. We found that when you ask clients to go to Yelp to leave you a review, make sure to wait at least six to eight weeks between reviews. This will ensure that it appears natural and you don’t get filtered. So, why does this work? Well, look at it this way, let’s say your firm’s been around for five years, and you’ve never got any Yelp reviews, then within a week you get five Yelp reviews, something’s not right there, and it’s pretty obvious that you’re asking for reviews.

Now, let’s face it, some industries are easier to get reviews in than others, I totally get it. For example, a client will have no problem going online and thanking their attorney for setting up the trust. However, hardly anybody wants to go online and thank their attorney for getting those pesky sexual harassment charges dropped. Although some industries are more difficult than others, it is not an excuse not to have reviews, you have to have reviews regardless of your industry. Sure, it’s difficult, but you know who else it’s difficult for? Your competition, and if you go online, I bet some of them have reviews.

So, if you’ve tried and tried and tried and clients just will not leave you reviews. Here’s what you do. Now, this is a little bit on the gray hat side, but desperate times call for desperate measures, and you’ve got a business to run. One thing that you’ll notice is the word client doesn’t appear anywhere on the reviews page. Therefore reviews don’t necessarily have to come from clients. Let’s say a neighbor or colleague was to say, Ben Smith cares about his clients, he’s extremely knowledgeable on DUI, and if I was every arrested for DUI, Ben is the first guy I’d call. They’re not lying and saying that they were represented by you, but they are vouching for your character and your knowledge of the law. This is a solid review, and it does the job.

Now, if you use this strategy, don’t abuse it, and do not stop asking clients to leave you reviews. This is just if you absolutely have not had luck with clients, but client reviews are still best. If you get a negative review, it’s imperative that you handle the review without looking like a jerk. Both you and your employees are human. So, it is likely that one day you will receive a negative review if you haven’t already. The first rule of thumb is always respond, and the second rule of thumb is always take the high road. Apologize, take responsibility for the misunderstanding and thank them for their constructive criticism. Don’t call them a liar, don’t call them an idiot even if they are, it never looks good when a manager or a business owner publically attacks or criticizes a critic. I’m going to tell you a quick story about when Linda Johnson was running for president. The race was really close, so the campaign manager asked is there anything we can say to give us an edge to help us win. Johnson answered; let’s say he has sex with pigs. The campaign manager said, but that’s not true. Johnson came back and said, it doesn’t matter, make him deny it, and he’ll look guilty.

This same psychology applies to your response with negative reviews. If you lash out at the reviewer and call them a liar and call them an idiot, you only look guilty. It looks like you’re protesting too much and you’re trying to hide something, plus what does this say about your professionalism? In this case, it doesn’t matter what the actual circumstances are, the reviewer has won. Your best course of action is to reply with things like, this is not how we typically operate, we’re a human organization, and please call me personally at the office so we can discuss this. These statements strongly suggest that you care about feedback and you will strive to make things right.

Now, you and I both know that the reviewer is probably never going to call you, but this response is not for them, the response is actually so that everyone else, the thousands of people over the course of the rest of your career that are researching you, when they see that review, they see how you handled it, they see that you care, and that you’re willing to make an effort to make things right, that’s important.

Here’s a sample of response, “Dear Mr. Smith, I’m so sorry that you had a less than positive experience with our law firm, we strive for excellence, and it’s certainly not our intention to leave any client dissatisfied. Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention, I’m personally looking into it. Please call me at the office as soon as possible so we can find the solution.”

Now, here’s how to dissuade a negative reviewer, before they even leave a review. You can’t eliminate a negative review, but you can bury it with positive reviews. If 19 people say you’re awesome and one says you suck, very few people are actually going to pay attention to the detractor. However, if you only have one positive review and then you get a negative one. Now, 50% of your online feedback is negative. Imagine someone’s about to leave a negative review, and they go to the businesses’ page, and the business has five negative reviews and five positive reviews, they’re probably going to leave a review. However, if the business has 20, 30 or even 40 positive reviews and no negative reviews or just one or two negative reviews, the person is much less likely to leave a negative review because who would believe them? In their own head, they’ll hear the thoughts of people that eventually read their review. Why did everyone else have a great experience and this one person didn’t? Maybe they’re the problem.

Did you know that reviews can also impact your Google rankings? Now, having a ton of five-star reviews does not directly increase your Google rankings. However, having a large number of reviews will increase your click-through rate, and that does impact your rankings. Additionally, reviews that contain keywords that are relevant to the business can have a significant impact on rankings. Now, that doesn’t mean that you should tell your clients to start keyword stuffing. However, if possible, you should ask your clients to include information about the services you’ve performed for them and the city and state in which you performed it.

Lastly, people often ask us, just how important are reviews? Lately, I’ve been replying with these two quick examples. I had a client in Chicago, and their numbers were pretty average. Although they appeared in the Google Maps, there were always up months and down months. One month was good, one month was bad. We discovered that one of their competitors had 15 reviews on Google and my client only had five reviews. So, we gave them a homework assignment, the assignment was to get 25 positive reviews. They actually listened to us, and they went out, and in four days they got 25 Google reviews. The following week was the busiest week in the history of their firm. Another client, a medium sized personal injury firm with seven partners never paid much attention to getting online reviews. We convinced them to pull together and get their past clients to leave them reviews, this resulted in 46 reviews being left on their profile. Their phone calls quadrupled, and every client said they were calling because of the great reviews they had on Google.

I firmly believe that reviews are so important that when it comes to your budget, if you spend money on internet marketing, but you ignore your reviews, you’re wasting your money. If you want to learn more about marketing your law firm, be sure to join the free Lawyer Marketing Facebook group. All you have to do is go to Facebook, search Lawyer Marketing and click join. It’s free to join, and I look forward to seeing you in there.