In the real world, no one wants to work with an average law firm if they have access to a better law firm.
Why dine at Wafflehouse when you can afford Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse?
People are able to distinguish the best law firms from the rest by considering what other people who have worked with these elite law firms have to say about them.
An individual assumes that if other people had a good experience, they will, too.
The majority of surveys conducted suggest that as much as 82.5% of people searching online for law firms read online reviews before settling on any single firm.
Almost the same proportion rely as much on the information in the online reviews as they rely on first-hand information from people whom they actually know.
Reviews have become a mainstay in all aspects of our lives, not just when searching for a law firm.
Think back to the last time you made a purchase on Amazon – did the reviews influence your purchase? Not only that, if it came down to two products with the same reviews, did the quantity of reviews that each product had come into play?
When products or services have equal ratings, the one with the most reviews always wins.
This is called “Social Proof.” If people see others having a positive experience with a specified product, they believe that they will, too.
THE BOTTOM LINE: You need positive reviews. In today’s society, people are paying attention to what others are saying.
What You Will Learn:
- How to get more clients motivated to leave you a review.
- How to get a client to leave a review with one click
- How to get reviews if your clients won’t leave them
- How to handle negative reviews without looking like a jerk
- How to prevent dissuade negative reviewers BEFORE they leave a review.
- How to use reviews to increase your click through rate in the organic Google search results
Review Basics: What You Need to Know
First of all, you must make sure people are able to leave you a review.
If you don’t have a Google My Business profile, click here to setup one up. If you have multiple locations, you need to setup a profile for each location.
As a rule of thumb, you need a minimum of five reviews for each location. Why five? Once you have five reviews, orange stars will appear below your listing.
Now you’re legit and more importantly, your listing stands out!
Next, you need to understand the obstacles you may face when attempting to get reviews and how to avoid them….
The biggest obstacle to obtaining good reviews is getting the right people to leave them.
Let’s face it, leaving a review is a pain in the ass that often involves a number of frustrating steps, especially for a non-technical person.
Many times, not being able to remember their Yelp password is enough to deter someone from leaving a review, even if they think the world of you.
On the other hand, if the person is pissed off, they’ll do whatever it takes just so they can tell the world about what a horrible attorney you are (to them).
Even if you provided the greatest representation and won them 80 bazillion dollars for their car accident, when it comes down to making an effort to leave an online review, they’ll often ask themselves (usually subconsciously) “What’s in it for me?”
When a client or customer is mad, the reward is they get to vent or take revenge on the law firm – they’re motivated.
Whether the manager was rude or the food tasted rancid or the service was slower than a woman who just drank a glass of water handed to her by Bill Cosby, the revenge is worth the time it takes to post a negative review.
Happy clients will often say they will leave you a review, but they don’t actually leave one. Why, as this makes no sense?
Consider this: often, the only reward for a person that leaves you a review is a positive feeling that they’ve helped you out.
However, they get this feeling right away after promising to leave the review, making it less likely that they will actually leave the review.
Derek Sivers gave a great TED Talk about this very subject, in that, scientists have found that if you have a goal and you tell someone about it, you’ll immediately feel the reward, which makes you less likely to actually achieve the goal.
How to Motivate Clients to Leave A Review
The best way to overcome these deterrents is to encourage your clients to leave a positive review in exchange for something that’s “in it for them.”
Relax, I’m not talking bribery.
Instead, I’m merely suggest offering a small token of your appreciation in the form of a Starbucks, Target or restaurant gift card (just preferably not Waffle House).
NOTE: Just to ensure your firm is 100% by the book, check with your state bar to confirm you’re not violating rules, as each state is different.
How to Get a Client to Leave a Review with One Click
Getting a client to leave you a review is difficult enough, so it’s essential that you make the process as simple as possible for them. Here is how to eliminate as many clicks as possible:
Here is how to eliminate as many clicks as possible:
Step 1 – Search for your law firm by name, ensuring that the knowledge graph appears on the right side of the screen.
Step 2 – Click “Write a review,” which will open the review light box.
Step 3 – Once the lightbox is open, copy the URL in its entirety.
Step 4 – Visit Google’s URL shortening tool, located at goo.gl.
Step 5 – Paste the URL into the box and click “Shorten URL.”
Step 6 – Copy the resulting URL into an email to send to your clients to leave you reviews.
When the client clicks the link, they will 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.
A few notes:
If the client has a Gmail email address, send it to that address. This ensures that they are already logged into their Google account and don’t have to log in or even worse, create an account <gasp>.
You can also copy the URL of the “write a review” page for your Yelp, Avvo and other profiles to generate reviews using the same one-click method.
Be Sure to Respond to All Reviews
When your firm receives positive feedback, it is vital that you respond to the review to thank the reviewer.
Not only does this reflect favorably on the firm, but it also prevents the review from being filtered by Google as spam.
Google sometimes marks reviews as spam because it doesn’t deem them legitimate.
However, if the business interacts in a timely manner, the feedback is a lot less likely to be flagged.
This is quick and painless. You’ll get an email saying “Someone just left you a positive review” so you can immediately respond. All you have to do is thank them for being a valued client and go get your next review!
Avoid This Mistake
Don’t have clients leave reviews from your office – have them leave reviews from home.
Google tracks IP addresses and will likely flag them if the critic is actually in the office while leaving their review.
For all Google knows, a paralegal is repeatedly posting every great review for the firm that’s made in its office.
A Google insider actually told me once that if a client leaves a review on their phone, they must wait to do so for at least 24 hours AFTER leaving the office, as Google can identify that they were at the location.
I have not tested this personally, but Google does track your location, so it’s definitely a possibility.
Yelp Me Yelp You!
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 Yelp reviews too often!
Yelp doesn’t particularly want you to ask clients to leave reviews – they would prefer they occur more naturally. When Yelp detects reviews are being solicited, the reviews are filtered out.
Our best advice is when it comes to Yelp, wait 4-6 weeks between reviews. Why? Well, imagine if your firm has NEVER gotten a review, then suddenly you have 5 in a week. Yelp knows that you’ve been asking for reviews as the likelihood if these reviews all occurring in the same week is far from coincidental.
We once had a client not fail to heed our advice. They obtained 15 reviews in one week – all were filtered out. They were not happy.
How to Get Reviews if Your Clients Won’t Leave One
Let’s face it, some industries are easier to get reviews in than others.
For example, a client will have no problem thanking their attorney for setting up their trust, but will likely be hesitant to thank their attorney for getting those pesky sexual harassment charges dropped.
Although some industries are more difficult, it is not an excuse to not have any reviews.
What are Friends, Family & People Who Owe You Favors Good For?
One thing you’ll notice is the phrase “Client Reviews” is missing from the review page.
Therefore, reviews don’t necessarily have to come from your clients.
Let’s say a colleague leaves a review that states “Ben Smith is an excellent attorney and extremely knowledgeable on DUI defense. If I were arrested for DUI in Cleveland, Ben is the first guy I’d call.”
They’re not saying they were personally represented; however, they are vouching for you. And this is a solid review; it does the job.
It’s perfectly acceptable to have your family and friends write positive reviews for you – just don’t have them misrepresent themselves.
How to Handle Negative Reviews Without Looking Like a Jerk
You and your employees are human, and therefore you will likely experience a negative review at some point.
Don’t take a negative review personally – but it is important to be self-aware. Some people just can’t be pleased, but it’s important to identify if there is a problem before one negative review turns into multiple negative reviews.
First off, always respond. Secondly, take the high road. Apologize, take responsibility for the misunderstanding and thank them for their constructive criticism. Don’t call them a liar or an idiot; it NEVER looks good when a business person, especially a manager or higher-up, publicly posts anything negative about a critic.
Now if you’ll please enjoy this inappropriate yet humorous analogy….
When Lyndon B. Johnson was first campaigning for President in Texas, the race was close with his rival, and his campaign manager asked “Is there anything we can say to help us win?” Johnson answered, “Yes, let’s say he has sex with pigs.”
The campaign manager said, “But that’s not true!” Johnson retorted, “It doesn’t matter. Make the sonuvabitch deny it, and he’ll look guilty.”
This psychology works exactly the same with responses to negative reviews: If you angrily lash out to a negative reviewer, you only look defensive, as if you’re protesting too much and desperately trying to hide something.
In this case, the reviewer always wins. Your best course of action when reacting to a harsh critic is to say things like “This is obviously not how we normally operate”, “There’s been a human error”, and “Please call me personally at the office; I’m going to fix this.”
These statements strongly suggest your law firm cares about its clients and will make things right.
Here’s an example of a response:
“Dear Mr. Smith, I’m so sorry that you had a less than positive experience with our firm. We strive for excellence and it is certainly not our intention to leave any client dissatisfied. Thank you for bringing this matter to our attention – I’m personally looking into it, but please call me at the office as soon as possible so we can remedy the situation.”
When you take the high road, you win. Case closed!
How to Dissuade Negative Reviewers BEFORE They 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, people will pay little if any attention to the detractor.
But if you just have one positive and one negative review, 50% of your public feedback is negative.
The more positive reviews you have, the more weight each review carries.
Imagine someone is about to leave a negative review for a business…if the business has five negative & five positive reviews, they’ll likely leave the negative review.
However, if the positive reviews surrounding the business greatly outweigh the negative, the person will likely not leave that negative review, because who would believe them?
They’ll hear the thoughts of other people reading their negative review: “How did all of these people have a great experience, yet this one person didn’t? What’s wrong with them? Maybe they are the asshole?!”
How to Use Reviews to Increase Your Click Through Rate in the Organic Google Search Results
One trick we use for every client is to add the schema.org review code to the reviews on every page of their website. This ensures that all pages of your website look like this in the SERPS:
99 out of 100 times, our client’s website is the only one with any stars in the results, which means that even if they aren’t number one, they will draw the browser’s eye.
Google doesn’t want you to abuse this, so there are a few guidelines that we follow to ensure we stay above board:
- This code should accompany an actual review – preferably a few reviews. This can be easily achieved by adding reviews to a sidewise sidebar or footer.
- Make sure that you don’t fake the numbers. The code is manually entered, so if you enter 5 out of 5 based on 100 reviews, that’s what will display, even if you only have 2 reviews. Just keep it honest – the presence of the stars alone is often enough to increase your click through rate.
Implementation of this code is a bit tricky, and because I’m guessing 99.9% of the people reading this are lawyers and not coders, I’m not going to put a full tutorial on here.
However, a coder to implement this can be found on Upwork or eLance at a reasonable rate. Alternatively, shoot me an email and I’ll give you a hand.
CONCLUSION: REVIEWS ARE GAME CHANGERS!
People often ask us “Just how important are reviews?”
Lately, we’ve been answering with these two quick, recent examples:
We worked with a firm in Chicago; their numbers were quite average.
Although they appeared in the Google Maps they were always up and down, a good month followed a bad month and vice versa, rinse, repeat.
We discovered that their competitors had stars on their Google My Business profile, and they didn’t have any.
The competitor with the most reviews had 15, so we gave them a homework assignment: get 25 positive reviews.
In 4 days, they had 25 Google reviews. The following week was the busiest week in their law firm’s history.
We have another client, a medium-sized personal injury firm with 7 partners, who never really put much effort into acquiring consistent reviews.
We convinced them to pull together and get their clients to leave them reviews.
They received 46 reviews in less than a month!
Their phone calls quadrupled and when asked, every customer said “I’m calling because of all your positive reviews!”
Reviews are also so important when it comes to your budget – if you spend money on internet marketing but you ignore reviews, you’re wasting your money.
If you want to stretch your dollars, focus on reviews.
What are your favorite tactics to obtain client reviews?