In 2018, a strong online presence is a must for law firms. Legal consumers no longer turn to the Yellow Pages to find a lawyer; instead, they run a search on Google. The results of that search can often result in a phone call to your office. That’s why, for most lawyers, online marketing is a powerful – and often affordable – way to reach potential clients and bring in business.
However, while online resources can help legal consumers find lawyers, they can also be used by those very same people to express dissatisfaction with a law firm’s services. With the rise of Yelp and other online review sites, reputation management has become more important than ever. Knowing how to respond to online reviews both effectively and ethically is key.
You could hire a reputation management company to handle this task for you, but the costs can add up. If you’d rather avoid the expense, then you’ll have to handle it in-house. Here are some tips to help you do just that.
1. Follow what’s being said about you and your firm. Monitor online chatter by creating Google alerts for discussions about you and your law firm. Once you create the alert you’ll receive emails whenever new matching results are located. You can also utilize tools that track online mentions of your law firm, such as Social Mention, BrandWatch, or BrandsEye.
2. Be aware of what’s being said online review sites. The sites clients use to find lawyers are often the same sites where they later leave feedback about their experience. That’s why it makes sense to track what’s being said about your firm on those sites. The sites often used by legal consumers to provide feedback about lawyers include: LinkedIn, Justia, Avvo, Yelp, LawyerRating, Martindale.com, Lawyers.com, Yahoo, Yellow Pages, Google Places and Google Business.
3. Request and track feedback. One way to manage online feedback is to encourage positive comments from happy clients. These will balance any negative comments that may come your way in the future. Throughout each case, make sure to obtain regular feedback by systemizing the feedback process. Make sure to be receptive to your clients’ comments, and, if necessary, make changes. Then, at the conclusion of each case, consider including a request for positive comments in your closing communications. Make sure to include a link to relevant sites to make it easier for your clients to leave comments – and for you to track them.
4. Augment positive reviews. When your clients leave positive reviews about your law firm, make the most out of them. Highlight them by adding them to your law firm website’s client testimonial section. Also consider mentioning and linking to them on your law firm’s Facebook page. Sharing good reviews engenders trust and encourages potential clients to retain your firm’s services.
5. Manage negative reviews. Hopefully, you’ll never receive a negative review. But if you do, you need to carefully and thoughtfully respond to the former client’s feedback. Avoid addressing specific factual allegations since doing so adds credence to the claims and could also potentially violate client confidentiality. Avoid expressing anger and instead, provide a brief response that is empathetic. Be aware of the optics should a potential client stumble upon this review. And finally, counteract the negative review by encouraging other clients to leave positive reviews on that site.
Online reviews have the potential to damage your law firm’s reputation. They can also be your greatest asset. Fortunately, now that you know how to track and manage them, you’re well on your way to turning them into a powerful marketing tool for your firm!