As I walk out of a hospital room following a meeting with a prospective client, I see a line of lawyers waiting to enter the room. Turns out, I am just one of many lawyers the client will be meeting to find the right lawyer for their case. The other lawyers are the quintessential “Who’s Who”, of prominent lawyers in my region—each one of them is more prominent and distinguished than I. My hopes of landing the client are slim and none.
Two days later, I receive a phone call from the prospective client, who conveys the news, “We’re hiring you.” Out of curiosity, I eventually ask our client why she chose me, and she responds, “We didn’t have any clue who to hire, but we’ve been reading your book [The Power of a System] since we met you. We saw the testimonials in the book about you. If other lawyers think this highly of you, you must be the right lawyer for our case.”
Do reviews make a difference? Perhaps you should ask your clients. Reviews by your peers and clients are the most valuable currency you possess. Every day, your prospective clients are scouring the internet for reviews of lawyers and let’s face it, if your competitor has 112 reviews and you have 4, who do you think they’re going to hire? This is why online reviews should be the cornerstone of your law practice.
Make Google Your Best Friend
Google controls the internet. If you want to be seen on the web, you must nurture and cultivate your law firm’s profile on Google My Business (“GMB”). Don’t worry about other review sites, e.g., Yelp--your clients are on Google and that’s where you want to meet them.
Will this help with your ranking in Google Local (the “three-pack” above the organic search results)? Firms with the most GMB reviews are usually ranked the highest in Google Local. When a review is detailed and thorough, the reviews will be indexed by the search engines and your online testimonials will be found by the search engines. A single online review can bring new clients to your firm.
One of our clients posted a detailed online testimonial about our work in a case involving untreated atrial fibrillation. Within the next few weeks, we were getting calls from across the country from persons who sustained strokes due to untreated atrial fibrillation. We did not do any of this work—our client wrote the online review, and as a result, prospective clients began calling. This is why online reviews work.
How to Get More Reviews from Clients
Some of the best reviews you will receive will be from a single phone conversation with a new client. If you spend more than 10 minutes on a phone call with a new client and the client expresses appreciation for your time and advice, you should ask for a review.
“Reviews on our firm’s Google profile are important to our law firm.
Reviews help consumers find the right lawyer for their case. I would
love it if you’d leave a review for us.”
Whenever you settle a case, ask your client for a review. Don’t just ask once. Most online reviews will not be submitted until you’ve asked 3-4 times. Don’t stop asking unless your client tells you to stop.
A Guaranteed Tactic for Getting Reviews
Ask your vendors, e.g., stenographers, expert witnesses, etc., to post a review. Vendors are persons and companies who make money from your law firm. Ask your bookkeeper to provide a list of every vendor who you’ve paid in the last 90 days. Next, send an email to each vendor to ask for a review of your firm’s GMB profile and provide a link.
“Thank you for your work for our firm. We value our relationship. If you feel
the same about us, would you mind taking a moment to post a review on our
law firm’s Google My Business profile? You can click this link to post the review.
This would mean a lot to us, as it helps prospective clients find the right
lawyer for their case. No worries if you would rather not.”
This is successful more than anything we’ve ever done. Vendors will post online reviews about 80% of the time, simply because they make money from you and want to curry favor with you.
Getting Your Team to Ask for Reviews
Incentivize your team to get reviews. Sit down with your team members and tell them:
Online reviews are critical to our law firm. Prospective clients are making
hiring decisions based upon our reviews and we need to have more reviews
than any other law firm in our market. I need your help to do this.
Whenever you have a good conversation with a new client, ask them for a review.
When a court reporter says something nice about our firm, ask them for
a review. Always think about asking for reviews and document every time you ask.
We will not receive a review unless we ask.
Offer your team members a $10 gift certificate whenever they ask for a review and a $50 gift certificate when they receive a review on your firm’s Google My Business profile. Keep a scorecard of the number of reviews requested by your team and the number of reviews received.
How to Leverage Your Assets to Get Online Reviews
Give a free book in return for an online review. When my new book, The Law Firm of Your Dreams, became available in print, I offered a free signed book in return for a review of my first book, The Power of a System, on Amazon.com. , The Power of a System usually receives 1-2 reviews on Amazon per month. As a result of the free book offer that was made within a private Facebook group, The Power of a System, received 37 reviews on Amazon in 2 weeks.
What can you leverage in return for an online review? Offer a free ebook to your friends and followers in return for an online review. This will kickstart your reviews.
The database of your former and current clients will be your best asset. St. Louis immigration lawyer, Jim Hacking, Esq., asked his former clients for help getting reviews and he received 200+ GMB reviews in 48 hours.
How to Leverage Online Reviews
Post the reviews on EVERY SINGLE PAGE of your web site. You want prospective clients to see your reviews—not only on a dedicated testimonial page on your website—but snippets of reviews at the top of every page on your website. If your website contains 2,000 pages, you want prospective clients to see testimonials on each one of them.
Create a small booklet containing your reviews. Have a graphic designer add a photo, with the name, city and state of the endorser, above their testimonial. Give this booklet to your prospective and new clients, leave copies on a coffee table in your lobby and make it available as a free gift/e-book on your website. (BTW, Kia Arian of Zine Graphics in Fairfax, VA, is a fantastic graphic designer for e-books).
Whenever a prospective client fills out a chat box on your website, send an automated response that includes the e-book of your testimonials. Add a link to your e-book on the electronic signature box of your email and pin your favorite Facebook review at the top of your firm’s Facebook page.
Find All Mentions of Your Law Firm
People are talking about you—you just need to find them. Search for mentions of your law firm on the internet using Google Alerts. Google Alerts will send you an email whenever someone mentions you or your law firm on the internet. When someone mentions you on the internet, e.g., a blot post, reply with a “thank you” or share their blog post with your social media friends.
Hate can be great. A structured settlement broker wrote a blog post condemning my opinion concerning structured settlement annuities (I hate them!). I was alerted about the blog post by Google Alerts and I responded to the hater’s blog post with an article about the drawbacks of structured settlement annuities. My reply began an online debate about the pros and cons of annuities.
“Interacting with haters through video can have a positive psychological effect.”
Jay Baer, Hug Your Haters
Turns out, the hater’s blog post got a lot of internet traffic, including an online debate and our law firm’s website got a valuable link back from the hater’s website. Internet hate means that you’re relevant. Embrace the hate!
Respond to EVERYTHING
Whether an online review is positive or negative, you must respond to everything. Sure, you can leave the perfunctory, “Thank you for your kind words”, but why not go above and beyond what everyone else is doing.
Take a minute to post a video review thanking the reviewer for their review. You can create the video on YouTube and post a link to the video on Amazon and share the video on social media.
“Customers feel better whenever and wherever you respond.”
Jay Baer, Hug Your Haters
Why not showcase the negative reviews? Seems crazy? Who else is doing this. Create videos showcasing your response to negative online reviews.
Why You Should Embrace Your Haters
Online hate is inevitable. Someone—whether valid or not—will post an hateful review about your firm, and you will have two choices: respond or ignore. When you ignore a hateful review, you are sending a clear message: YOU DON’T GIVE A CRAP! And that, my friend, is never good.
“Businesses that answer every complaint, in every channel, every time are
businesses that consistently exceed customer expectations.”
Jay Baer, Hug Your Haters
Caring about your clients is the most important thing for the success of your law firm. When a negative review is posted, embrace the hater.
“I am sorry you had a bad experience with our law firm. I appreciate that you took the time to make us aware of your issue and I can promise you that we will do our best to address this.
Would you mind reaching out to me directly to get more information? My direct phone number is 518-265-9131. I would love to help resolve this issue with you, so we can make sure this does not happen again.”
Why embrace your haters? First, you are showing the online community that you are listening and you care. If you do not respond, you are sending the message that you don’t care about your clients and that is a terrible message.
“Haters aren’t your problem, ignoring them is.”
Jay Baer, Hug Your Haters
Second, by saying “I’m sorry”, you are showing empathy for your client. Whether they are right or wrong is irrelevant. In their mind, your client is right and that’s all that matters.
Third, you’re offering to make things right. Ask the client to call you directly and use your name. By using your name, you are showing your client that you care enough about them to become directly involved (rather than pawning off their complaint to an underling).
Only Reply to a Negative Review Twice
Reply to a negative online review only twice. Do not get into a debate about the merit of the review. Rather, take the review off-line by giving your direct phone #.
If the hater refuses to discuss their issue off-line, they are only looking for an audience for their complaint and they have no intention of resolving their issue. You cannot help these people. However, by responding to them, you’ve shown that you care and you want to help. Your online community is paying attention and they will rally around you.
The Worst Thing You Can Do
Other than ignoring the complaint, the worst thing you can do is to deny the complaint and begin an online debate.
“Our records show that you have never been a client and there is no merit
to anything you write. You are a liar!”
Perhaps this is true, but it’s irrelevant. In the eyes of the online community (and they’re always watching), you are fighting back and an online debate will begin. You will never win this debate. You look bad in the eyes of everyone who reads the back and forth between you and your client. Don’t do this!
Always Respond to Positive Reviews
When someone goes to the trouble to post a positive online review, take a moment to thank them. Your reply shows the online community that you’re listening and you are appreciative.
Post a video reply to make your reply special.
“Hey, Mitch, thank you for taking the time to post this review. It means a
lot to me, especially coming from you. Stay well, my friend.”
When others see your video reply, they will be encouraged to post a review. Your reply garners good will with your fans and leads to more reviews.
Your Choice: Ignore or Embrace the Haters
If you do nothing, you’re on the same path as your peers. Almost all lawyers ignore their haters and do nothing to increase online reviews. This is their loss and your gain. You’re not like most lawyers. Be different. Embrace your haters and turn them into your fans.