Customer reviews are critical when it comes to online marketing. 97 percent of people read reviews for local businesses according to the statistics in 2019 by BIA/Kelsey, and 91 percent of 18 to 34-year-olds trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, according to BrightLocal. There are different strategies to get more reviews such as responding to each one of them, having several spaces for reviews like Facebook, Yelp, and Google, and asking your clients to leave you a review on one of those platforms.
Do Reviews Affect Your Potential Clients?
The answer is yes. A recent study focused on legal services asked 300 participants between the ages of 21 to 65 if they would hire an attorney if their average review rates were low. 84 percent of them wouldn’t hire an attorney with lower than a 4-star average rating, according to the article published by Lafleur Marketing. There is no doubt that reviews affect your potential clients. When someone wants to find your law firm, the chances of calling a friend for information are much lower than someone searching for it online. And guess what? Even if your clients do hear about your company from someone, they are still going to do the online search. If potential clients find that you have no reviews at all, they might think, either you don’t have enough clients or your firm is not trustworthy.
As we mentioned at the beginning, 97 percent of people read reviews for local businesses, and if there is nothing to learn about your business, most likely, they aren’t going to do business with you at all. According to Harvard Business School Research in 2016, a one-star increase in Yelp rating lead to a 5-9% increase in revenue.
The Number of Reviews Affects the Ranking
Numerous positive reviews can increase your business’s chances to appear in the search results when someone searches for a local law firm – this is called ranking. If a client searches for a business in the local area, Google might use reviews as one of the main factors for placing the top three companies.
Are All Reviews Good?
Keep in mind, there are good and bad reviews, and not all reviews are good reviews. But you have the power to respond to the feedback and find the solutions. If someone is writing about their bad experience with your firm, be positive in your responses and respect your clients’ opinions, even if they differ from yours. When it comes to good reviews, make sure to spend some time on the gratitude. If potential clients see you are polite and friendly with your clients, they will want to be a part of this positive experience.
How to Prevent Negative Reviews
No business in the world can satisfy every existing client, so it’s normal for someone to be not completely satisfied with your services. But, if a dissatisfied person leaves a negative review on your firm online, it might affect your potential clients and it can also result in losing some of them. But what can you do to avoid negative reviews online in case someone is still feeling dissatisfied after receiving your services?
Let’s determine why people write negative reviews in the first place. Sometimes, they do so because it’s the only way they can express their frustration; that’s why you should make sure you are available to your clients when they are not happy with your firm. By availability, we mean different ways for them to reach you, like social media, email, or phone. Try to gather reviews from clients yourself, and if you find some of them unhappy with your firm, try to find ways to improve their experience.
If you use social media, clients will be more likely to write to you on Facebook before writing a negative review online. Even when you try to satisfy all your clients and try to solve their problems, there will still be some of them writing negative reviews for your company. Some people feel a social responsibility to write about their bad experiences so that they prevent others from having it, or they might be the type who writes reviews for every business they deal with. If you see bad reviews, don’t worry. Almost every business has negative reviews online. Respond to those only after you have analyzed the issue and have a possible solution for the problem.
How to Respond to Negative Reviews
If you think there is something you can do to fix the problem, just do it. In that case, the bad review suddenly can have a positive impact on your business. Here is how: Your potential clients are going to see that you are going to care about them. And even if they are not fully satisfied with the experience, you are there to help. If the problem cannot be fixed, try to acknowledge the issue. Even if you disagree with your client, let them know you understand their situation. Start by expressing gratitude to them for informing you about the problem, followed by an apology. Even if you are convinced the client is wrong, if you apologize, others will see you care about your customers. And that is good for your business reputation.
After the apology, try to explain the situation. And if there was a misunderstanding, take responsibility for it. Also, try to let the client know you will take care of the problem if they want to re-engage with your business. Offer to resolve the issue over the phone or in person, to find the solution.
PROs of Having Negative Reviews
Now, we aren’t saying we want your clients to be dissatisfied with your firm. But if you get a negative review, remember they can be beneficial, too. How can a negative review be helpful for a business? When your clients look at your reviews online, there are going to be some of them who will read negative feedback in the first place so that they can see what’s the worst that can happen. If the worst scenario they can experience with you is having a bad Wi-Fi signal in your office for 15 minutes, or their lawyer wearing an inappropriate pair of shoes, maybe it’s not as bad in the end. This is especially if you have already replied with an apology and a possible way out of the problem. Try to satisfy your clients. But if you end up with negative reviews, even if they are more problematic as the examples above, try to turn things around for your company.
Ways to Increase the Number of Reviews
Create your free business profile on Google My Business – Most people search online using Google, and many of your clients will find your firm trustworthy if you are there. Additionally, many clients will go back to Google to give you a review after having an experience with you.
Create a profile on Facebook – Billions of users use Facebook to find businesses. Furthermore, your Facebook page will appear in the search results for your firm on Google. People who have Facebook use it daily, and it’s almost effortless for them to visit your profile and give you a review.
Have a listing on Yelp – It’s not primarily for law firms, but many people visit Yelp to find local businesses. And if you have a listing there, there are more chances for you to have potential clients and have reviews from the existing ones. Also, Yelp feeds data to Apple Maps.
Let your clients know you value their opinions! Send them emails and ask to leave a review after the case is closed. You can also use a link to a review in your email signatures or email newsletters. And make sure the clients know their feedback matters to your business. Here is a great source to generate review links for your customers: https://www.grade.us/home/labs/google-review-link-generator
Send reminders. There are many clients who don’t want to leave you without feedback, but sometimes, they simply forget to write about your firm.
Additionally, you can offer incentives for clients who write feedback online. And, of course, we recommend to first check your current State Bar rules.
“In 2015, for example, the New York State Bar Association wrote that it was acceptable for an attorney to offer a client a $50 credit toward their legal bills in exchange for a review, as long as 1) the discount wasn’t contingent on a favorable review, 2) the client wasn’t coerced to write the review, and 3) the client, not the lawyer, wrote the review.”– wrote Steven Thomas Kent in his article on LaFleur Marketing.
Another way to ask for reviews is to reach clients via phone. It’s best if the person asking them for feedback is the one who had the most contact with them. Make sure your clients know they can complain to you first if there is anything to complain about. And if they are happy with the experience and write a good review online, then it’s for the best for your reputation and will make you look good in the eyes of your future clients.
If you decide to ask your clients for a review in-person, make sure that they don’t review your company from your business location (or from the same device). Google is known to remove reviews coming from the same IP address.