Why are reviews important?
- They will help your website rank in both the organic and map listings.
- Potential clients deliberately search for reviews before contacting you.
- Reviews provide your firm with additional selling points to use in your other marketing, like on your website.
Who can leave reviews?
- Past Clients – This is a great place to start if you haven’t been very diligent about asking for reviews.
- Existing Clients – The best time to ask is when you have just won their case. But if you already know your client is thrilled with you, go ahead and ask.
- Peers – AVVO and Martindale both offer the option for peer reviews. Be wary with asking peers to leave reviews on other websites like Google. Some Bar associations have guidelines that discuss this behavior.
Where should you get reviews?
- Google – This is the most important spot to get reviews because these have the highest visibility and most direct affect on your SEO.
- Facebook – Some people, like iPhone users, may not use Google as much. So these clients may prefer to leave a review on Facebook. Google can and will pull reviews from Facebook to show in your business information.
- AVVO or Other Directories – These are good, especially if you are advertising on these directories. Another benefit of AVVO, is that you can send review requests directly from the AVVO system. This makes getting reviews easy and straightforward.
- Yelp – This website has one of the most difficult review filters out there. From our experience, getting a positive review through the filter is extremely difficult. We recommend trying to get reviews on Yelp as a preventative measure against getting a bad review. Because the success of getting a review on Yelp is so limited, we don’t recommend it until after your reviews are well established on these other sites.
How to get reviews?
- Asking in person – This is the most effective way. If you ask in person, it is more personal and people tend to hold up their agreement more often. You can create a handout that walks people through the process of leaving a review. You can also follow up with one of the other methods.
- Email – Google has created a link generator that you can then use to email clients. This will send them directly to your individual review page and makes it very easy for your clients.
- Text – You can use a text messaging marketing platform if you have a high volume you need to use. Or you can just use your own phone. You can use the link generated in the previous bullet point.
- Review Generation Software – There are multiple vendors that offer review generation. Get Five Stars and BirdEye are two of the top vendors. These make the review generation process very simple and easy. The big downside is that these vendors tend to be expensive for low volume firms. If you aren’t making at least 15 requests per month, then it likely isn’t worth the cost. They also include advanced options to include:
- Dynamic Links – This will change where the person is sent for a review based on the device they are using. So Android users may be sent to Google but iPhone users sent to Facebook.
- Two-Step Request – This is somewhat frowned upon by most of the review sites. However, these companies still provide this option. This works by asking the client if they would recommend your firm. If they say Yes, they are given a link to leave a review. If they say no, they are sent to a page to give you private feedback.
- Advanced DIY – For our clients, we build firm specific solutions by incorporating the firm’s own website, dynamic links, email marketing platforms, and text marketing platforms. We have found this to be just as effective as the other review generation vendors but more affordable.
Things to consider, avoid, and just know in general.
- #1 TIP – BE PROACTIVE – Make it a habit for you and your staff to always ask clients that you have a good relationship with to leave a review. If it helps, work this into your case management software so that you don’t forget.
- Don’t ask everyone that comes in contact with your firm for a review. I have seen firms send out a review request to their entire mailing list which included cases that they turned down. This didn’t end well for that firm.
- Don’t ask people that you know are upset.
- A good goal is to get 10% of your customers to leave a review.
- Respond to ALL reviews, positive and negative. – There are strong indicators to suggest that Google will rank your firm more often you take an active role responding to reviews. This shows that you care.
- DO NOT violate client confidentiality. This means you cannot confirm that they were a client. Do not discuss the case, at all.
- For positive reviews, keep it short and sweet. (Thank you for reviewing our firm. We really appreciate it.)
- For negative reviews, apologize that they did not have a positive experience and offer a solution. (We are sorry to hear that your experience was not a good one. Please contact us directly so that we may try and make things right.)
- Understand that responding to negative reviews is just as much about showing that you care, as it is dealing with that individual client. I have seen a law firm client get a $2M settlement and leave a bad review because they thought they deserved more. Some people you can’t please, but you want other people to see that you actively try to make all clients happy.
- For erroneous reviews we recommend you make it clear that you don’t recognize the reviewer but avoid being combative. (We are unfortunately unable to verify you as a client, as we wanted to reach out to you and resolve this issue. Please contact us so that we can help with any issues you have experienced.)
- Negative reviews happen, and there is nothing you can do about it. I have seen family members of a victim leave a bad review for a criminal defense attorney. I have seen competitors of the firm leave bad reviews. I have seen people review the wrong firm. Some people are just crazy. Some bad reviews don’t have any identifying information for us to even begin to investigate.
- The best strategy for reviews is an offensive one. Get as many positive reviews as possible so the bad ones aren’t as damaging when they inevitably occur.
- Google understands that smaller firms cannot get as many reviews as the larger firms. And Google understands that more reviews don’t always mean better service. Having and maintaining a positive reputation is the name of the game, and to do so on a consistent, on-going basis. You don’t need 500 reviews.
- We typically see jumps in performance with 5 positive reviews, 15 positive reviews, and 50 positive reviews.
- Don’t be afraid to follow up. You don’t want to be too annoying but following up at least once is a good idea.
- Don’t offer rewards or items of value in exchange for a reward. Not only is this against most platform guidelines, but some Bar associations have banned this as well.
- Don’t write the reviews yourself or create fake reviews. This practice is against review guidelines and is banned by most Bar associations.
- The filters that review websites have in place, can sometimes block reviews that originate from your office. At a minimum, don’t allow clients to use your computers to leave reviews. At least have them use their phone if they are going to do it while they are at your office.