Online Reviews are the Best Thing That Ever Happened for Local Law Firms
While your firm’s experience, awards and accolades, and track record of successful verdicts and settlements are important information to feature online, they are still not the strongest driving force behind why clients choose you. What’s even more compelling than your firm’s results? Positive client reviews. Word-of-mouth has shifted to the internet, and a recent survey shows that 90% of all people depend on online reviews in hiring a local business.
What previous clients say about their experience with your firm is far more important than what you could ever say yourself. If the majority of your potential clients are reading previous client reviews, would they choose to hire you? Now, more than ever, taking advantage of online reviews is the easiest and most cost-effective strategy for growing your client base. By providing high-quality reviews to your customers, you don’t need to have a high dollar marketing budget in order to be competitive.
Mobile Experience Is Driving Local Businesses
Whereas in previous years, your clients may have found you through referrals, the Yellow Pages, TV or radio advertising, or other platforms, they are now far more likely to search for you on their computer or smartphone and look for reviews from past clients. Even in the past ten years, the shift toward mobile use has increased considerably. The smartphone penetration rate, or the volume of active mobile phone users, has boomed from 20% in 2010 to 69% in 2017. This will only continue to grow.
97% of consumers go online to make stronger purchasing decisions and 75% of these consumers are using their phones to do so. Being accessible online requires far more than just having a functioning website. Your online presence needs to be discoverable within your local market as well as provide potential customers with the information that they need to make an informed decision about hiring you.
Since consumer behavior has shifted toward digital mediums, customers are savvier than ever at researching all possible options before making a decision. The client reviews that you make available online are an integral part of this research. Previous client experience is a way for your prospects to vet you and understand if your firm is up to the task. By providing your prospects with reviews, you are empowering them the resources that they need to make a confident decision. If you don’t have reviews demonstrating your ability, your competitors will.
Online Reviews Are Immediate Proof for Customers
Law firms have a unique challenge when it comes to marketing, advertising, and engaging prospects. Unlike many other businesses, your prospective clients don’t shop for your services until they have a somewhat urgent need for them. This gives you an increasingly small window to land your clients before your competitors do. Though advertising is a necessary and valuable way to gain exposure, quality third-party reviews do some serious heavy lifting when it comes to closing the deal. You will almost never be the only law firm that your clients evaluate in the decision-making process. For this reason, when it comes to client reviews, both quality and quantity matter.
Don’t wait for clients to leave reviews on their own. By actively engaging the clients that you have helped to leave you a review, you have more control over getting beneficial reviews which can be shared on your site, review platforms, and across social media to maximize your reach.
Though some clients will leave you a review voluntarily you will need to encourage most of them to do so. Fortunately, about 68% of your clients will leave you a review if you ask them to. Demonstrating what you have accomplished for your satisfied clients can also offset any negative reviews that you have received to keep your review ratio favorable.
What About Negative Reviews?
When you give clients the ability to leave their thoughts, it is unavoidable that some of the reviews will be mixed or even negative. Negative reviews are an opportunity. Not only do they reveal potential issues with service or problem staff members, but they also provide crucial insight into how you can improve.
Engaging with clients who have left a negative review in a polite, professional, and non-defensive manner will show that you listen to feedback and provide quality customer service. Sometimes, the way you engage with a negative review could be the deciding factor for clients who are on the fence about your firm. With some skill and tact, you could actually turn that negative into a positive!
Now, more than ever, prospective clients are doing the research, weighing their options, and relying on other people’s previous experiences to make buying decisions. By focusing on your reviews, you provide your prospects with the resources that they need to arrive at the best conclusion -- hiring your firm.