With the increasing importance of digital marketing, online reviews are becoming more critical than ever. When people are looking for a product or service, they turn to online reviews to determine whether to make a purchase. The number of reviews your business receives, the average rating (i.e., the number of stars), and the nature of the comments themselves all play significant roles in influencing public perceptions of your company. Consumers turn to online reviews when purchasing products or deciding which restaurant to frequent. Additionally, those in need of legal services often use online reviews to identify the law firm that has the highest rating—they want to feel confident that the law practice has a proven track record of helping their clients obtain favorable results. Law firms that have accumulated a handful of client reviews may need help streamlining and improving the client review request process to ensure that clients write and post positive and useful reviews. Even though no law firm wants to receive a less-than-stellar review, negative reviews are an unfortunate reality for many businesses. This post will highlight the importance of online reviews and provide some simple strategies for improving your law firm’s online reputation to boost your reputation and authority throughout your area.
Why Online Reviews Matter
First, it’s essential to understand why client reviews are so important to growing your law practice and building your online reputation. Before marketing became overwhelmingly digital, people relied on personal recommendations from trusted friends and family members to influence their purchase decisions. According to 2022 estimates, 93 percent of consumers say that they use online reviews to influence their purchase decisions. Most consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations, underscoring the power that client reviews hold in influencing someone’s decision to hire an attorney. Below are a few other relevant takeaways from numerous studies and surveys to help us understand just what makes online reviews so crucial and impactful.
High Ratings Are a Must
Most online review platforms (like Google and Yelp) allow customers to rate the business on a scale of one to five stars and provide comments to explain their reasoning behind the rating. Before you assume that your law firm must have a perfect 5-star rating to attract new clients, you should know that surveys have found that only 13 percent of consumers insist on a perfect rating. More than half of customers look for companies or firms with four or more stars, and one-third of customers say they are open to working with businesses with a three-star rating. Law firms should strive for an average rating of four to five stars to ensure stable and sustainable growth.
Too-Perfect Reviews May Put Off Potential Clients
While most customers gravitate towards businesses with ratings of four to five stars, there is an upper limit to these preferences. Companies with perfect ratings may actually set off alarm bells, as people may view these impeccable ratings as misleading or suspicious. Once in a while, businesses may turn to bots or other automated tools to fabricate 5-star ratings, which ultimately misleads customers. Your law firm can rest assured that a good mix of reviews is really a good thing, as it shows potential clients that your reviews come from the individuals you have served. What’s more, search engine algorithms like Google may flag overly flattering reviews as false or fabricated, negatively impacting your website’s ranking on the search results pages.
Common Online Review Issues (And How to Address Them)
When it comes to online reviews, there are several challenges that law firms may face. Let’s take a look at a few of the most common struggles that law practices face and what steps you can take to boost and improve your firm’s online reputation.
Too Few Reviews
If your law firm has only received a handful of reviews, one negative comment can tank your average. For instance, if one client leaves you a positive 5-star review and someone else gives your law firm one star, your rating falls to an average of 3 stars. Sparse reviews give too much power to only a few voices, skewing the average and limiting the number of client perspectives shared. First, try reaching out to the unsatisfied client to address their concerns. In most cases, a negative review comes from someone who simply wants to feel heard and valued—acknowledging their concerns may prompt them to revise their poor review. Your firm should also implement a process for requesting client feedback. There are several automated tools that allow you to simplify this process to increase the number of clients who leave reviews.
Neglecting to Respond to Client Reviews
Another common (yet easily remedied) problem for law firms is forgetting to acknowledge or respond to client reviews. Many businesses assume that positive reviews speak for themselves and do not require responses. However, the public overwhelmingly prefers companies that take the time to respond to individual client reviews. Make it a priority to regularly check your law firm’s review sites and write a warm response to each newly-posted review. Taking the time to thank your clients for posting a review not only acknowledges their efforts—the public will see your active presence on review sites as an indication of your genuine investment in the client experience.
Forgetting to Update Local Business Listings
There are so many tasks and details involved in running a law practice, so it’s easy to forget to update your firm’s information on local business listing sites. Unfortunately, small oversights can frustrate clients, resulting in negative reviews or ratings. Be sure to check sites like Google Business Profile, Yelp, and Bing Places to make sure your law firm’s contact information is correct and up-to-date. Your potential clients will appreciate the ability to rely on these details to get in touch with you and—hopefully—schedule a consultation.
If your law firm is hoping to bring in and engage more clients, give LegalRev a call today at (800) 893-2590 to discuss your goals and level up your digital marketing strategy.