Your online reputation can be the difference between acquiring a new lead or losing them to your competition.
Your reputation, always one of your most important assets in this world, has only grown more valuable in the internet age. In times past, prospective clients might be referred to you from the trusted testimony of their friends or family. They would probably meet you face to face before signing on as a client. This is no longer the case.
Most people find their lawyers after a Google search and some additional research. Much of this research goes into your reputation. In modern online terms, this is your star rating on various sites and the accompanying reviews. When we talk about managing your reputation for this modern client base, this is specifically what you’re looking at.
Why Is Reputation Management Important?
Ideally, you want your firm associated with a wealth of great reviews and 5-star ratings. A well-reviewed firm is going to naturally attract clients the same way you’re more likely to go to a restaurant with a Michelin Star than one with food safety violations.
Negative reviews can damage your lead generation, but the odd negative review is inevitable. Part of reputation management is dealing well with these outliers. In fact, a few negative reviews can have a beneficial effect as the larger number of good reviews gain credibility. It all depends on how you handle them.
You need to manage your online reputation proactively. It’s as important as every other aspect of digital marketing and if done correctly can be a boon to your lead generation. The better you manage your reputation, the more leads come in and the more your clients will feel heard, understood, and respected.
Before you can manage your reputation, you need to know where you’re starting out. Unless you’re brand new, you should have a presence on sites like Yelp, lawyers.com, the Better Business Bureau database, Avvo, and Martindale-Hubbell.
If you haven’t already, claim your Google Business Profile (GBP) page. This is a good hub for your larger online presence, as most of the internet searches that find you will be performed via Google, and the information on your GBP will then appear. In other words, the first concrete exposure to your reputation happens during the very first Google search for you. A potential client could make their decision to retain you, positively or negatively, at a glance.
While it’s much more fun to pay attention to positive reviews, the real value is in the negative ones. They can provide important windows into where your firm can improve. We’ll discuss addressing these negative reviews later in this article.
There’s a psychological concept called “social proof”. The idea is that the more people see others doing something, the more likely they are to try it as well. 88% of people trust reviews as much as word-of-mouth recommendations. It demonstrates how your online reputation is in many ways a substitution for the old in-person way of doing things.
Creating social proof for your firm involves demonstrating your value, which is done via online ratings, reviews, and testimonials. These can be on your GBP, your Yelp page, or any other source of reviews. They can also appear on any of your social media profiles or on your site itself.
Prominently displayed testimonials from happy clients can go a long way in helping visitors make the decision to sign with you. Show how you had a positive impact on the lives of your clients and how your legal help got them through a difficult time. People seldom need a lawyer at a good time in their lives, and these kinds of testimonials are effective marketing tools to calm jangled nerves, build trust, and demonstrate social proof.
Establish Yourself in Attorney Directories
Part of reputation management is ensuring you’re in all those places mentioned earlier. Your GBP is only the first step—and you should claim it immediately—but lawyers can appear on many other online directories. Each one of these will have space for star ratings and reviews, adding them to the expanding tapestry of your online reputation.
You might come across profiles for your firm on these sites. These might already have reviews. They will remain unless they are not legitimately the work of previous clients. Every platform has some process to report falsified reviews, and you should follow these. If you can’t find one, reporting them directly to the platform manager is a good next step. An illegitimate review will persist unless it’s challenged, and you’re the only one who will do that.
The more reviews you have, the better. Quantity helps determine legitimacy, and a landslide of positive reviews can more than offset the odd negative one. You want happy clients submitting reviews.
The more difficult it is to leave a review, the fewer you’re going to get, so you want to remove as many roadblocks between client and review as you can. You also have to ask. Choosing the right moment is a factor in success. Right after a successful case is the best time, of course. The key is to never let review solicitation hurt the overall client experience.
In-person requests are more effective, though requesting via email can bear fruit and shouldn’t be ignored. An email request can be addressed immediately and in the age of multi-tasking, immediacy is a powerful incentive. You can also link directly to the platform you wish the review on in the body of the email, turning the process of getting there into a single click.
A fillable form directly on your site is a great way to get testimonials. While these won’t appear on GBP or other third-party sites, they can provide a template for those testimonials on your site that can be so effective.
Respond With Care
Fundamentally, reviews are about clients wishing to be heard. The unspoken contract for reviews is then to give the reviewer what they want, which means a response. This not only cements a relationship (or repairs one, depending on the review), but it also creates trust with those reading the review. They see your gratitude to your happy clients and commitment to addressing the concerns of the unhappy ones.
For positive reviews, thank the client and be sure to include both the name of your firm and a little self-promotion. It should be a subtle advertisement for those reading the review. You’re also fostering loyalty with the client in question, which could lead to more business from them or a referral. Showing your kindness and pride in work can even encourage someone who might be undecided to sign on.
As for negative responses, always remember that the fault does not lie with the client. Keep the response professional; pledge to address the cause of the negativity (without admitting fault) and move the conversation offline at the first opportunity. Ask for details so that you can reliably address the issue in the future.
Your goal is to prevent these kinds of reviews from happening, and the best way to do that is to identify and deal with the underlying issue on your end. This can also encourage others to sign on to your firm as your commitment to customer experience is on display.
Listings Manager Makes Reputation Management Easy
Listings Manager is a powerful tool from Lead Science that can help you manage your reputation at scale. Your information is going to be scattered all over the place, including on third-party sites. With Listings Manager, you can manage your online reviews and ensure your directory listings are up to date, all from a single app.
Listings Manager also helps you manage your reputation by making it easy to put your best reviews onto your site. Keep your happiest clients front and center while others peruse your site, and control exactly how they appear with extensive customization options. You can even choose which review channels appear on your site and which don’t.
Schedule your Lead Science Discovery Call today. You can see firsthand how Listings Manager can make reputation management easy as well as our suite of other digital marketing products. Let Lead Science help show the world how you can help them.