Maintaining a positive reputation as a lawyer now is an absolute business necessity because it will mean the difference between success and failure. You simply cannot do well if your reputation is in tatters. But how can you do to improve your reputation and maintain it? I will tell you what worked for me and why I know now, that without it my practice would not be doing as well as it does.
6 Moves That Can Improve Your Law Firm’s Online Reputation
A law firm’s online reputation accounts for so much in the age of online shopping. I have no doubt that favorable word of mouth is the lifeblood of every thriving law practice. We use the internet for everything under the sun. You can bet that your leads will look you up online before even bothering to call your office. Why suffer what I call reputatitis and suffer financially?
Maintaining a positive reputation as a lawyer, also has another often forgotten benefit. Your firm’s online presence is looked at by prospective employees. If you improve your online reputation, you can effectively recruit better candidates because you can stand out from your competitors.
The good news is that with a little effort and patience, improving your law firm’s online reputation is easier than you think. Here are some steps that you should take:
1. Improving Your Law Firm’s Online Reputation Requires Constnt Trackin
You will find many comprehensive tools that help you monitor your online mentions. For example, social tools like Sprout Social are perfect for monitoring and tracking social mentions across various platforms, like Facebook, Twitter, and Google+, etc. And although they charge a fee, it’s only a small amount.
Expand your online presence by making the most of your staff’s networks as well. Your should encourage our team to post awards or good reviews from clients, that mention them, on their social media accounts. Why not make a competition among your people for the social media post that gets the most likes, or has a better caption.
2. Be Transparant
Maintaining a positive reputation as a lawyer must be done with finesse. Transparency is now widely expected form businesses. Look at the largest new businesses around you. They have their reviews, good or bad displayed as a means of social proof. On the other hand, you also find businesses that only place good reviews on their websites or ads. Do you trust any business that has all good reviews?
Prominently displaying your reviews, good and bad, has two effects. It shows you are honest and upfront. It will also keep your feet to the fire, so you will hopefully strive to earn better reviews.
Now, I am not suggesting that if you are a 2 star business on Goolge and Yelp, you should proudly display that. You should first try to turn things around and pull yourself up to at least a 31/2 star of Yelp and 4 on Google. But if you are at the higher range, don’t try to pull the wool over the eyes of your leads by only displaying the rave reviews. No one will fall for that, except your belivability in the eyes of the prospective client.
3. Monitor Your Reviews Often
You can and should monitor your online reputation as a lawyer. Nowadays they are so easy to do. There are many apps that allow you to communicate with your clients regarding their experience, but also keeps tabs on your reviews live.
Why does this help? I have had situations where minutes after I have recieved a bad reviews, I got on the phone with the client and after apologising for their bad experience tried to recify the situaiton. The disgruntaled client is often very happy that their effort to let you know your service was awful, has caused you to take action. I have had the pleasure of then seeing the bad reviews then change without even askig for it.
Maintaining a positive reputation as a lawyer requires that you check your reviews once a week (at least). Keep in mind that many business listings allow users or clients to leave reviews about the firm. Monitoring your reviews regularly will help you identify any negative user reviews quickly. So, do not make the mistake of waiting until you have a public relations crisis on your hands.
4. Start Delivering Better Service!
I know this is a no-brainer, but aren’t there areas you can improve on. Would you give your firm a 5 star review? If not, why not change the way you do business?
There is no doubt that providing excellent service to your clients helps drive positive reviews that will be appreciated by them. Keep in mind that customer service, offline or online, remains an important differentiation point when building a successful law brand. If you have online awareness, it will give you the unique ability to address your client’s issues before they escalate and tarnish your reputation.
If you are too busy to oversea client experience tasks, hire a professional with the right disposition and friendliness to handle it. Understand that there are hundreds of hungry attorney only too eager to take on your unhappy client.
5. Getting Good Reviews a Top Priority
Some apps like Yelp do not allow you to solicit reviews, let alone good ones. You will likely be penalized if you engage in that kind of thing. But, asking for reviews is fine when it comes to other apps. Keeping these differences in mind, you should do whatever you can to seek your clients’ opinions on a routine basis.
How? There are 10s of online reputation management apps on the market now. Their programs allow you to ask your clients, in an acceptable manner, for their opinion. Look we all get the occasional bad reviews, but you wouldn’t be able to remain in business if all your reviews were negative. I would actually venture a guess that you have far more happy clients than unhappy ones. Why not make obtaining their reviews and opinions a top priority. It will drown out the loud unhappy reviews.
There are also services that contact your former clients by phone for surveys, which often ends up with an online positive review. I will talk about this service in my future posts. This bold will also devote many posts to this issue. As an example see my post on How To Improve Your Online Reputation.
6. How To Deal With Bad Online Reviews
Gently and calmly!
A past client leaves a bad review for you or your law firm and states what you did in a self-serving way. Should you respond by describing the case and what really happened? Only if you want to gamble with your license. As a lawyer, most jurisdictions do not allow you to respond to a bad review with details of your client’s case. So don’t do it.
Should you retort by some snooty remark of your own? Only if you want to look like a kindergarten-age child with a license to practice law. I personally have had the displeasure of doing this, and in response to my comment, I received a long addendum to the previous comment. This person is mad already, don’t push your luck.
What should you do? Express your regret that you did not meet their expectations and that you will use their review as a tool to do better. I this sounds lie a lump you are being asked to swallow but think of it as the cost of doing business. To live another day and fight another fight.
Maintain A Positive Reputation As A Lawyer In The Future
With Covid-19 we have witnessed how much business has gone online. Habits are hard to change and it would be difficult to think people will stop online shopping anytime soon. Your law firm’s online reputation will determine how well you do in your law practice. The social proof that you receive from good reviews should be one major focus of your marketing efforts.