Your reputation is a lot like your brand. It can’t be built or changed quickly, and it takes careful management to emerge over time. A strong online presence is a vital component in maintaining your reputation, and a strong reputation helps you attract new customers, but negative reviews and a lack of testimonials can easily damage it.
Your website, social accounts, Google Business Profile, and other web profiles such as directory listings are the platforms upon which you can showcase testimonials and reviews to help build a positive reputation.
You should actively engage with positive and negative reviews to build and manage a positive reputation. You should solicit testimonials to add to your site, YouTube, and your owned media channels, to shore it up. This social proof makes your firm stand out from other law practices.
The Importance of Social Proof and Testimonials
Social proof is a psychological phenomenon describing how the actions of others influence people. When people see others doing or buying something, they feel more inclined to do it themselves. According to HubSpot, 88% of consumers trust user reviews as much as word-of-mouth recommendations.
There are two key ways to demonstrate social proof to potential customers: reviews on platforms you do not control, like Google My Business, and testimonials on platforms you do control, like your website or firm’s YouTube channel.
For example, here’s how we use testimonials on our site to show what our clients have to say about us:
If someone comes across your firm’s website and sees prominently displayed testimonials from satisfied clients, they may feel more comfortable hiring you.
For example, if you have past clients who say that your firm helped them improve their lives, this can be a fantastic way to show others how they can benefit from working with you.
Testimonials can build trust and credibility by showing off how reliable or trustworthy your law firm is and its positive impact on others' lives. You can also show what your clients love about working with you and what they say about the experience.
Placing positive endorsements from existing clients can help reassure potential new clients that you are the right person for them to work with on their legal issues.
Why Reviews Are Critical to Your Firm’s Online Reputation Management
In addition to testimonials, the other key to social proof is the reviews people leave about your business on platforms you do not fully control.
Out of all the directories, social media platforms, and local review platforms on the internet, your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business) is the most visible means of attracting people's attention on Google.
When someone searches for a term related to your practice areas in Google Search or Maps, your firm's Google Business Profile may show up for the searcher, depending on their proximity to your office.
In addition to discovering your business exists, your Google Business Profile lets the searcher look at reviews that previous clients have left about your firm on the search engine results page and in the maps. Positive reviews and your responses to all reviews can help the user gain further confidence that you're someone they may want to work with on their case.
Google Reviews are not only crucial for gaining potential clients’ trust, but they are also a ranking factor for Google Search and Maps. This means that having more reviews on your Google Business Profile may impact where your business ranks when someone searches for attorneys in their area.
Actively monitoring and adding to your Google Business profile goes a long way to improving your local SEO results. If your company doesn't have a Google Business Profile listing, it won't appear in the local map pack results, meaning you will miss out on many potential leads.
If your firm hasn't already, you should look for and claim your profile for free on Google. Once you've set up your profile, you'll need to check on it frequently to address client reviews and keep an eye out for fake reviews.
Monitor What People Are Saying About Your Firm
It's essential to monitor what people say about your firm, both positively and negatively. When you answer your reviews, you address customer issues quickly and show potential customers that you offer superior customer service.
This can do wonders for your reputation (and bottom line). You can keep an eye on your reviews through third-party reputation management tools for lawyers, but you can get the same effect for a lower cost by regularly checking for reviews yourself.
Responding to and Requesting Positive Reviews
Getting positive reviews from happy clients is great, but those reviews shouldn’t be left to stand alone. Responding to positive reviews is essential.
It’s important to acknowledge positive reviews. If someone has taken the time to praise your services and recommend that others follow suit, responding in kind can only help improve your online reputation.
Your response shows that you care about the current and potential clients' opinions. While it may seem like a small gesture, responding to positive reviews is a simple way to show your clients that you care about what they have to say. Thank them for their kind words!
In addition, it's also an easy way to encourage potential clients who are on the fence about hiring you to make a decision one way or another—and if they're happy with their experience, they may leave a review of their own.
If you're looking to build a strong reputation on review sites, one of the best ways to do so is by asking your satisfied clients to leave a review.
Properly Handling Negative Reviews
Responding to negative reviews is also essential. How you react to angry or belligerent reviews shows potential clients a lot about your firm’s character. Sometimes, it can even help you turn a dissatisfied client into an advocate for your business.
Negative comments can be valuable to you if you take them as an opportunity to improve and provide better service in the future. This is why responding politely and positively is smart when someone has written something negative about your firm or services.
If a client says they had trouble with their case or didn't feel like they received enough attention, try responding by asking more questions about what went wrong so that you can fix it next time around (without blaming anyone).
If a client says they didn't feel like the lawyer that handled their case was very knowledgeable, try asking them for more details about what went wrong so you can make sure it doesn't happen again.
You can also ask them if there's anything else you could do to improve their experience with your firm. The more details you can learn from dissatisfied clients, the better you can serve future clients and avoid similar situations. You can also show potential clients that you are listening and value the input of your clients.
In the case of negative reviews, it's important to respond professionally and politely. Here’s an example of how attorneys can handle bad reviews from clients:
Thank you for writing a review. I sincerely appreciate you bringing this issue to my attention.
I'm sorry to hear you had such a frustrating experience trying to get in touch with our legal team. That's not what we like to hear. We've listed our available hours more clearly on our "Contact Us" page and on social media. If you ever need assistance at another time, sending a message through our contact page will enable us to reach back out to you first thing the next business day.
Your business means a lot to us, so if you ever have additional feedback, please don't hesitate to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
John Doe, Managing Partner.
If their review is particularly negative and doesn't lend itself well to communication, consider posting a response without contacting them directly—this may be as simple as writing "Thanks for reaching out!" next to their comment so other visitors know you're listening. It may also be worthwhile to ask the reviewer to meet with you in person or on the phone, so they can share more details about what went wrong.
Of course, if the negative complaint rises to the level of defamation, you may need to consider other courses of action.
How Do You Choose Which Comments, Reviews, or Mentions to Answer?
While it’s essential that you respond to all legitimate reviews, some folks merely troll the internet with fake reviews. Most comments come from real positive and negative interactions with your brand, but some trolls occasionally sneak through.
Never respond to false Google reviews. Instead, you should report them to Google and request their removal.
Using Testimonials and Reviews to Your Advantage
Testimonials and reviews are particularly effective for managing your reputation because they come from people who were once in your current clients' shoes. They know what it's like to be on the client’s side of the table, so their words carry more weight with potential clients than anything else.
You should solicit positive, high-quality reviews from real customers on your Google Business Profile (formerly Google My Business), Yelp, and any other location where your law firm may appear.
Here are some ideas for getting the most out of your testimonials:
- Include details that help identify the client. Ask for permission to include the client's name and any additional pertinent details, such as their job title if they represent a business client or their health details if it's a personal injury matter. Although not everyone will be at ease with this, it is still important to inquire. Ensure that you also abide by your jurisdiction's client data security laws.
- Include a picture of the client. Your reputation as a lawyer is more genuine if you see more real names and faces complimenting your firm. Ask your clients if you can use their photos for website testimonials.
- Interview the client on camera. Videos are an excellent testimonial medium and can help to boost a lawyer's reputation. If you have the opportunity to get a client’s testimonial on video, it can make a convincing asset for your brand on YouTube and your website.
How to Improve and Maintain Your Online Reputation
Your firm's reputation directly impacts your brand and vice versa. By working hard to improve and maintain both, you will also build brand equity—the value that comes from clients' perceptions of your brand.
Your firm becomes more appealing, and your legal expertise becomes more valued due to brand equity.
To build brand equity and improve or maintain your reputation, think about the following factors and how you can improve them or demonstrate them in a meaningful way to potential customers.
- Customer sentiment: On the whole, your clients might be happy, but they might be dissatisfied with certain aspects of your company, such as your prices or working methods.
- Customer satisfaction: Companies that regularly provide for the demands of their customers and treat them well tend to have better reputations and stronger brand equity.
- Reviews and testimonials: According to studies, reviews and testimonials significantly impact your bottom line because they are the public face of customer emotion.
- Industry expertise: You may provide consumers with excellent service and perform well, but are you an expert in your field?
Getting reviews and testimonials from current and former clients can help you improve customer sentiments. Your clients’ praise can also demonstrate their satisfaction and endorse your industry expertise.
To build up your brand equity through social proof, you need to set up systems to capture reviews and testimonials, deal with negative reviews, and act on customer feedback.
Develop a System for Getting Reviews
If you discover that your reputation isn't what you'd like it to be, put a system in place to ask happy clients for good reviews.
You can’t tell people what they should write in an online review, but you can ask clients to leave feedback about their experience with your firm.
We've found the best way to solicit new reviews is to ask current and former clients to leave feedback about your firm on your Google Business Profile. When you ask clients to just “leave a review,” most people will panic and hastily write something to get it off their plate.
But if you ask for “feedback” in a specific location, people are more likely to take the time to write something that comes off as far more authentic and off-the-cuff. Detailed feedback from real people helps build trust with people who are not your clients yet.
Decide Who will Monitor Online Mentions of Your Firm
Create a consistent management plan next. Designate particular employees to monitor internet mentions regarding your practice. Marketing and customer service teams are most qualified to deal with customers.
If you use an internal employee, make sure they know how to address both positive and negative reviews and how to spot, report, or remove fraudulent ones.
Establish a Comment Tone Guide
Without a consistent tone of voice, responding to brand comments is pointless. Reacting positively to criticism will do more harm than good.
Develop a response tone guide and have the person responsible for responding to reviews stick to it.
A crisis management strategy can also help you take action during events that snowball, are challenging to control, or may leave responsible parties anxious and not following regular procedures.
Act on Feedback and Reviews
Understanding how consumers regard your brand is key to innovation. Client complaints and pain points will show you parts of your law firm that need more attention. Favorable comments will show you what you're doing correctly.
Taking action based on comments, feedback, and reviews helps you manage your reputation by making client-requested adjustments.
Consistency is Key
Law firm reputation management is an ongoing process. Fixing one problem doesn't guarantee everything will be fine forever.
Busy lawyers have a lot of things competing for their attention. Marketing and online reputation management are simple to push to the bottom of your priority list, but this can be costly.
If you want to regularly check the web to see what people say about your law practice, assign a paralegal or staff member to be your team lead. The same individual can organize contacting customers to get reviews or testimonials and then, if necessary, follow up with reminders. Success is more likely if the process is automated and accountability is established.
Taking care of your law firm's online reputation is priceless. Adopting this targeted strategy may utilize inexpensive yet powerful tools, like your Google Business Profile, to improve your internet reputation and law firm visibility.
Getting positive reviews and testimonials is key to building a solid reputation online, but it’s only a part of the puzzle. Many other factors determine how potential clients are exposed to your brand online. The legal marketing experts at Rankings.io can help you develop systems to improve and maintain your online reputation while building up your brand through content marketing and search engine optimization.