Online customer reviews are a key component to the success of any business. Whether you’re looking to buy a sandwich or to hire a lawyer, you’re most likely going to read online reviews and consider the number of stars in a business’s rating.
To put things in perspective, only 48% of consumers will consider giving their business to a company that has less than four stars – that’s why it’s incredibly important to promote reviews for your company.
To further make the case for reviews, 87% of consumers in 2020 routinely read online reviews before doing any sort of business with a company (up from 81% in 2019). So, if consumers give that much consideration to what strangers on the internet say about an everyday purchase, you can imagine how much they’ll consider reviews when looking for a lawyers or law firm.
Let’s dive into why customer reviews are important for law firms and how they will benefit your business.
The 8 Benefits of Customer Reviews for Law Firms
Online customer reviews have a strong, psychological impact on consumers and their buying decisions. While traditional word-of-mouth recommendations are very important,79% of consumers trust online reviews just as much as a recommendation from a friend or family member. In other words… online reviews have become today’s word-of-mouth recommendations.
Most reviews are found on Google My Business and Yelp. However, the Better Business Bureau is the most trusted platform hub for reading and writing online customer reviews. Here are some reasons why customer reviews are so important for law firms.
1) Social Proof
A person is more likely to choose your law firm or a specific lawyer at your law firm if they read a positive customer review that assures them that it’s a good decision. Social proof has a major impact on people’s spending nature and is often a driving force behind someone choosing your business over a competitor.
In the past year, a staggering 93% of customers regularly used the internet to find local businesses, with 34% of them making searches on a daily basis. These people are actively looking at your customer reviews and star ratings.
Even an increase of a single star in your ratings can boost your conversion rates by 10% according to a study by Pattern.com. Imagine if you had one or more, or even a page of five-star reviews. A potential client will be hard pressed not to believe the enthusiastic praise of your law firm’s five-star reviews and strongly consider choosing your practice.
It’s not a stretch that, if your law firm has numerous five-star reviews, the odds are high that your lead and conversion rates will increase — and revenue will follow.
That’s why it’s imperative that you request and share feedback from your clients. Their feedback will inspire others to work with you, too.
2) Increased Visibility
Reviews help boost your SEO rankings so that your law firm pops to the top of search results when consumers are on the web hunting for prospective lawyers in their area.
Most people look at online customer reviews via the Better Business Bureau, Google My Business, and Yelp. However, each site has its own method of indexing content.
Review websites will push your business toward the top of their indexed content the more customer reviews you have. Algorithms favor businesses with higher numbers of positive reviews and in turn give their websites more authority. This provides your law firm with more visibility, thus attracting leads and clients.
The likelihood of your revenue increasing through lead conversion is dependent on the visibility of your law firm.
3) Inspires Trust
Trust is a key factor in what people look for when searching to hire lawyers or law firms.
Those looking for a law firm are likely stressed. They want to know the firm they hire will handle their legal matters appropriately and, most importantly, successfully. They want to know your law firm can do it right and communicate along the way.
Your law firm gains credibility each time you earn a positive online review. This allows your practice to look more trustworthy and professional than your competitors. If you have several reviews praising your firm, this significantly increases the public’s trust in your firm and the likelihood that potential clients will reach out to you.
People want to know they have the right person on their case.
4) Brand Reach
Customer reviews ultimately increase your law firm’s brand reach. You can increase online and offline conversation about your firm by encouraging happy clients to leave reviews and star ratings.
Your online presence (and your ranking) is boosted with the more clients you have talking about you online. So, whenever you have a positive experience with a client, you should always politely ask them to write you a review… without being overly pushy. Usually when a client has a positive, successful experience with a law firm, they are more than willing to leave a review as a form of thank you to your team.
While being careful not to impose, you can also ask your client to leave a review on more than one site. This will boost your ranking and brand reach much more than if a review is posted on a single site. There is power in numbers.
5) Loss of Leads
Customer reviews are critical for law firms because many people won’t deal with a practice (or any business) if they don’t have compelling information about them. A client will possibly look over your website to see your service offerings and lawyer profiles, but it’s unlikely they’ll choose to hire you without more intel… like reviews.
Since the majority of consumers look at online reviews before moving forward with a purchase or hire, it’s essential that you have client reviews to help them make their final decision.
Ensuring that your law firm has premium visibility on review sites depends on a steady stream of positive online reviews. This is key to converting leads — a lack of reviews is most certainly a deal breaker for potential clients.
6) Increases Sales
A Harvard study revealed that a single star increase in your Yelp rating will boost your sales revenue by 5% to 9%. While law firms make their money by providing legal services rather than products, the study still represents the importance of star ratings.
Law firms see significant increases in their revenue when they have online customer reviews and star ratings to back up their credibility and reputational standing.
7) Reinforces Relationships
It’s important for law firms to respond to both positive and negative reviews. Many assume that it’s only necessary to respond to the negative ones, but this simply isn’t true.
Responding to positive online reviews is a great way to strengthen relationships with existing clients. It also shows others online that you care about your clients and maintaining your relationship with them. You’re able to reinforce the positive experiences with your previous clients and recognize areas of your business that have the most strength, as well as consider the ones that might have room to grow.
Personalized replies give your law firm a human presence. Reviewers took the time to create a write-up, so you should afford them the same time and respect.
What’s more, an open-to-feedback demeanor is admirable and inspires others to hire your law firm.
8) Encourages Growth
Almost all businesses understand there’s always room for growth and improvement. Learning how to gain, respond to, and encourage more customer reviews is a great way to increase your law firm’s revenue.
Analyzing your client reviews, whether positive or negative, provides insight into what’s making your clients happy and what’s making them unhappy.
If you find more than a couple reviews pointing out a specific problem, you have firsthand knowledge of ways your firm can improve. This also prevents a small problem from turning into a bigger and potentially disasterous one.
There’s value in your clients’ insights when you consider them as steppingstones to reaching your full potential as an admired law firm.
How to Handle Negative Reviews For Your Law Firm
We’ve discussed that generating positive customer reviews is vital. However, handling negative reviews is just as important.
Luckily, there are a number of ways to deal with negative business reviews.
Respond Quickly and Professionally to All Customer Reviews
Nothing looks worse than a business having an inappropriate or rash response to a negative online customer review. A self-defensive, aggressive, or rude response can have an even worse effect on your law firm than the negative review itself.
Of course, not responding at all is bad, too. It shows that you don’t care for your client’s experience and don’t see the importance of reconciling with them to make things better. To emphasize this, 20% of customers who take the time to write a review are expecting to receive a response within one day.
Once you’re ready to respond to the negative feedback, you should do so in a calm and professional manner. Hashing out the problem at hand through a comment thread is ill-advised. You should rather encourage the unhappy client to contact you directly in order to shift dialogue out of the public eye.
You should apologize for their negative experience, and clearly state your willingness to work toward finding a more positive resolution. Ensuring the privacy of your client is of utmost importance, so it’s best to avoid revealing anything specific about their case for others to see.
Encourage More Positive Customer Reviews
While it’s possible to have negative reviews and comments taken down on some sites (you usually shouldn’t), but the next best thing you can do is bury them by encouraging more positive reviews!
Studies show 73% of customers only pay attention to reviews that were written within the past month. So, if you have an abundance of positive reviews and only a few negative ones here and there, they’ll usually be ignored by prospective clients.
That’s why it’s so important to consistently encourage reviews. You can usually do so by asking clients through email or in person to write a review, but only at the end of their case and if they’re happy with their outcome. They’ll most likely be thrilled to write one (or several) for you.
[Related: Infographic: Managing Your Online Reputation]
Hibu Helps Law Firms Generate and Share Positive Reviews
Hibu has a number of different ways we help clients with online reviews. Hibu Reviews, part of Hibu Reputation, helps you generate and manage your online reviews. And Hibu Assistant can automate your client communication — so clients automatically receive emails and texts requesting reviews at exactly the right time.
To learn more about how Hibu can help you generate online client reviews for your law firm, call us today at 855-408-3744 or get started now at hibu.com.