To encourage client reviews or not to encourage--that is the question
The answer to the question may be yes, encourage client reviews.
People find products and services, including lawyers, online. Where once they would turn to the yellow pages to find a restaurant, a doctor or a lawyer, now they turn to the Internet for help. And, when it comes to making a decision whether to go to restaurant A or B or to call Lawyer A or B, clients look to user reviews to help make their decision.
While potential clients still consider a personal referral the most trusted source for information, second place goes to client reviews posted online.
The first step most people make when seeking a lawyer is to go to the Internet and, according to a recent survey by Software Advice, the most trusted site they search is Yelp. Sixty-one percent of the respondents relied on Yelp’s reviews, 20% on Martindale-Hubbell, 10% AVVO and 9% Super Lawyers. And these sites make it easy for a client to write a review of your services.
Assuming this is a trend that can’t be ignored, how do lawyers manage their online reviews?
First, we know the law is an uncertain business. Second, clients can have unrealistic expectations. This means that in the midst of a series of good reviews can come a negative one that widely varies from all the others. This will happen.
The time-tested method used by business owners to protect from the negative review is to have a lot of positive feedback from their customers. They use methods such offering rewards for answering a survey with instructions at the bottom of a receipt or make a request in a post-purchase e-mail. Lawyers, too, can ask clients to write a review on a site after their case has been settled to their satisfaction. Happy clients are more likely to leave feedback. You can ask them to comment on:
- How well you explained their options,
- Your professionalism,
- Your listening skills, and
- How quickly the matter was resolved.
When potential clients see a long list of reviews, they trust that the attorney can handle their problem. The attorney with no reviews is less likely to be considered. Consider how you decide when researching products or services on Amazon, Angie’s list, TripAdvisor or Yelp.
The only precaution is to be sure that your approach to seeking reviews complies with Michigan’s advertising rules.
Concerned about the negative review? It can be a wonderful marketing opportunity.
A response to a negative review shows that the lawyer cares what a client thinks, gives feedback and shows strength of character. The right response doesn’t attack the writer, but looks, instead, to the reader or potential client. You can show you care about feedback, want to make things right and care about their problems. Take time to write your response--a poorly written response is worse than no response at all. And let it age; like a good wine, time and repositioning/revising will make it better.