Client Reviews and Reputation Management
Law Firm Marketing
7 min read
Part of the ‘Lawyerist Healthy Law Firm’Learn more
Managing your reputation means crafting what people say about you the best you can. This means you’ll monitor online reviews, social media mentions, and client feedback forms.
It means managing what your clients (past, present, and future) and others think about your firm by encouraging positive reviews, eliminating pain points that result in poor reviews, and building your reputation both online and offline.
While there’s only so much you can control, you do need to pay attention.
Client reviews are a two-edged sword: They can either build your reputation or threaten to destroy it. Whether positive or negative, 93% of consumers say online reviews impact their purchasing decisions. 84% of consumers trust online reviews as much as recommendations from family and friends.
You may think you can rely on word-of-mouth referrals alone. While some attorneys do keep their lights on thanks to a solid referral process, it’s because they have a reputation to support it. To build your online reputation, you need positive law firm client reviews.
Studies show that consumers who suffer a bad interaction are 50% more likely to share it on social media than those who have had good experiences. Plus, 52% are more likely to share the negative experience on an online review site. The bottom line: Good client experience is expected, not optional.
It’s okay to ask your clients what they think of you. Not sure how to go about it?
A few ideas:
Ask your clients at the beginning how they heard about you. Did they read online reviews? Did they find your name on a lawyer database? Did they hear about you from a friend? The answers help you see how well you’re managing your reputation online and offline.
Ask for feedback in the middle of your project. Are there things you could do differently? If so, asking in the middle of the project is crucial.
Remind your clients to leave an online review. At the end of your project, casually remind your clients that you always appreciate online reviews in places such as Yelp or Google since you’re a small business trying to grow.
It’s important to make the review process as simple as possible, ensuring that your clients accept reviews in whatever way they prefer.
There are many platforms to use for online reviews, including:
Social media. One of the most common ways to accept online reviews is that platforms such as Facebook allow you to get reviews via your law firm’s business page.
Google. If you want to take your business to the next level, point clients to Google. When someone searches for your name, you’ll want positive reviews to accompany your information.
Lawyer directories. Avvo, FindLaw, and Justia are examples of online attorney-only guides that feature ratings and reviews. Plus, some websites such as Avvo allow you to gather attorney endorsements to solidify your reputation further.
When you receive a positive review from a client, it’s best if you respond immediately. They’ve taken the time to speak out about their positive client experience, so you should take the time to thank them.
In contrast, the last thing you should do is respond immediately to a negative review.
Take attorney Christopher Tancredo. He received a negative review from the opposing party in his case. He didn’t respond immediately to the review.
Instead, he wrote to the opposing counsel and asked if that counsel was willing to accept service of process for her client and provided her with the case law for the scenario. Within 24 hours, she accepted, and the review was down.
Christopher was creative, communicative, and fast. You should be, too. Here’s how.
It’s best to create a suitable response that doesn’t communicate any unnecessary emotion. Say something standard like, “We apologize that you aren’t happy with our services,” and offer to talk to them about it in private. As the attorney, you absolutely can’t go into any details of the case in response to a review.
Some negative reviews may warrant extra action, such as reaching out to the client directly in a private communication to speak about their experience. This is especially helpful if there’s an issue cited in their review that you can solve.
Some review websites also allow you to flag reviews if they are inappropriate or in violation of the site’s terms. If a review fits this bill, flag it. The website will look over the review and may remove it or ask the reviewer to consider revising it.
With each review, see what you can take away from them for the future. Did you miss a step in the client intake process? Did you fail to communicate with your client? Consider what you can do to ensure this doesn’t happen again.
For example, lawyer Dustyn Coontz was startled to find he had actual online trolls targeting his firm and tanking his ratings. No one likes to see their ratings drop like that. He quickly took an active approach. He asked happy clients to leave reviews. He emailed a form to satisfied clients, too, asking them to review him on Google and Facebook.
While he used the bad reviews as somewhat of a sympathy play, he almost didn’t need to – just asking for the reviews is what brought his rating back up.
As a solo attorney or a small law firm owner, you may be attempting to build your reputation. Or, you may have a reputation that you’re simply trying to keep. Either way, you need to understand the best methods for managing your reputation.
Your law firm’s reputation should reflect your core values and services. After all, what benefit is there to being seen as a ruthless criminal law attorney when your firm’s focus is on mediation?
To earn a good reputation inside the industry, you must establish yourself as a trustworthy expert. Clients want attorneys who are knowledgeable about how to get the best results. To be seen as a reliable expert, you must become one. Go to conferences, read, and stay up-to-date on trends.
Share your knowledge publicly via blogs, whitepapers, and guest posts on other blogs. When potential clients and colleagues ask questions on your social media or over the phone, do what you can to answer them. Who do you think those individuals will come to when they have a legal need? You guessed it: you.
As discussed above, think about responding to reviews and keeping an eye on your online reputation. The only way to do this is via technology and some reasonable old-fashioned effort.
When managing social media, create alerts for the name of your firm and the names of everyone in your firm. You can also do the same thing in other places around the internet by using Google Alerts. Each time your name is mentioned, you’ll receive an alert. If a negative mention comes through, you’ll be one of the first to know it, and you’ll be able to address it promptly.
Keep an eye on review websites such as Yelp, Avvo, Google, and any other website where your name appears.
If you don’t have the time to monitor your online reputation properly, consider using reputation management software. These tools will automatically track reviews from multiple websites, collect performance data and compile reports, send surveys to clients, and more.
In the end, marketing is about two things: Planning and authenticity. Forget dumping a bunch of cash into advertising without a strategy, or putting on a flashy persona that isn’t the real you. With a thoughtful, honest look into who you are and what you want you for you firm, you’ll find marketing your law firm an easier task than you first thought.
And, after you’ve solidified your marketing plan? It’s time to take care of your client. Next, read our Complete Guide to Law Firm Clients and learn about building Healthy Clients as part of your Healthy Firm.