Seeking and acquiring client reviews has always been important, but in an increasingly online climate, now is the time to get clients to post their feedback.
According to Brendan Kelso, the founder and principal of legal marketing advisory firm Legalsites, the importance of getting client reviews hasn’t changed in the wake of COVID-19, but what has changed over the past year is the willingness of clients to leave positive reviews for their legal service providers.
Many people, he told Lawyers Weekly, have taken to sharing social media posts that outline ways that those in the community can better support their local businesses as the pandemic-inspired economic downturn continues. Such posts, he explained, usually include the suggestion to leave a positive Facebook or Google review for a particular business.
That’s why, he proclaimed, he is encouraging SME law firms to reach out to their clients: “It’s a great way to get online reviews.”
Google reviews, he detailed, are usually the best bet for legal practices.
“Why focus on Google reviews? Many reasons. Importantly, when someone searches Google for your law firm, they will usually see your Google maps listing. This includes your Google reviews. So, it helps to make an excellent first impression,” Mr Kelso noted.
“Plus, getting five-star Google reviews can help you get on the ‘Map Pack’. Which is the top three listings on Google maps for a keyword (e.g., Brisbane Lawyers).”
Such reviews are also, he continued, effective for a firm’s local SEO and online reputation, given the perception of trustworthiness and authenticity.
In addition to “doing a great job” for one’s clients, Mr Kelso said there are a few steps that a firm can employ in garnering reviews from their clients.
“Timing is important. Ask your client when they are totally stoked about your law firm. This might be after you’ve delivered an outstanding result. Leave it too late, and they might not be so responsive to your request. Contact them using their preferred method of contact (e.g., call, email or text),” he suggested.
“Use a template and customise it for each client. Generally: keep it short and sweet, include a direct link to your Google reviews (you can find this in your Google My Business account), and mention that your new clients enjoy reading reviews from other clients.
“Contact old clients, ongoing clients, people who have left a positive Facebook review, people who have sent a nice email saying how happy they were and business partners (e.g., doctors, accountants, barristers, etc). Basically, who might leave you a positive review?”
Moreover, Mr Kelso continued, firms should be responding to all client reviews left for them online – positive and negative commentary included.
“This shows prospects how you deal with unhappy (or difficult) clients. And for many people, they’ll focus more on negative reviews,” he said.
“When you reply, don’t blame the unhappy client. Be very careful with what you write. General rule: make it clear that you’re concerned and that you want to rectify the issue (even if you suspect it’s a fake review).”
Some law firms, Mr Kelso mused, are reluctant to ask for reviews, fearing it makes them look needy or that it would annoy their clients.
“But in my experience, most reasonable people aren’t annoyed when they’re asked to leave a review. In fact, considering how many other businesses do it these days, I would argue that most clients would anticipate the request. In other words, it’s pretty much expected,” he said.
“And, if a client is annoyed, what’s the worst that could happen? Just don’t chase them up. So, I usually don’t follow up with clients for a review. I generally encourage law firms to ask once.”
It is also critical, Mr Kelso added, to ensure the reviews being garnered are compatible with the aesthetics of a firm’s website.
“Some law firms are using ‘plain text testimonials’ on their website. I generally prefer adding Google reviews to a law firm website. And linking to the source (i.e., your Google reviews). This ‘authenticates’ your reviews and enhances your ‘social proof’,” he said.
“In other words, it shows people that your reviews are most likely from a real person.”
Go the extra mile, he advised, and add a headshot of the client who wrote the review.
“You can just download it from their Google review. But, if they don’t have a photo, ask to use their Facebook profile photo. If you don’t feel comfortable with that, consider using the Google logo next to the review on your website. This just makes it look more authentic to some people,” he said.
“Also, sometimes it might not be appropriate to ask for a Google review. This depends on the nature of the matter and other factors. So always use your best judgement.”