Today, consumers no longer just rely on a law firm’s proximity or word-of-mouth referral. With access to a seemingly endless supply of information, consumers can easily conduct research, see law firm’s online reputation, individual lawyer reviews, and make educated decisions based on others’ past experiences and a law firm’s online reputation.
It’s an entirely different world than it was just 10 years ago.
But, in reality, this access to information is a great thing for consumers. It’s also a great thing for law firm’s. That is, as long as they effectively manage their online reputation and lawyer reviews.
In today’s world, consumers follow a customer journey for nearly every purchase. The same goes for consumers looking to hire or engage with a law firm.
How Lawyer Reviews Affect the Customer Journey
A customer journey is an outline of all the touchpoints your potential customers will have with your law firm. These can be online or offline touchpoints as well as direct or indirect touchpoints. In the simplest terms, it’s all the times a customer is exposed to a business.
Let’s look at a few possible customer journeys for Marcia (a fictitious consumer) who is looking to hire a divorce attorney.
- Customer Journey #1: Marcia searches Google for “Divorce attorney in San Diego”. Marcia is then served a number of law firms that practice divorce law in her area. She narrows in on a few firms, scours their website and reads reviews on each one. Based on her research and each law firm’s online reviews, she whittles down to two law firms that she will contact.
- Customer Journey #2: Marcia is referred to a divorce attorney from her friend who had a positive experience using the law firm. Before engaging, she jumps online to find contact information and see what others had to say about the firm. Her original opinion, instilled by her friend, is either reinforced or swayed, depending on the law firm’s online reviews.
These are just two of many potential customer journeys that a client could pursue. As you can see, in both cases, online lawyer reviews come into play as a core touchpoint within the customer journey.
Because hiring a lawyer is a decision that most don’t take lightly. It’s not a quick purchase. Rather, it’s a decision that can have major ramifications or dividends (depending on an outcome). It’s a decision that’s generally based off of a law firm’s reputation, past client experiences, and a host of other factors that are pertinent to each individual firm.
Therefore, it is imperative that law firms utilize online lawyer reviews to their advantage.
How Law Firms Can Utilize Online Lawyer Reviews
First and foremost, it’s important to outline the online review sites that law firms should focus on. In general we suggest at least focusing on the big 3: Google, Yelp, and Facebook. In addition to the big 3, your law firm should focus on industry-specific online review sites like Avvo and Lawyers.com.
By focusing on the big 3 and the industry-specific sites, this helps ensure your law firm has a presence across the most likely places that potential clients will land. The idea is, once they land on a review site, you’ll have the positive reputation and online presence to help them make the wise decision of engaging with your law firm.
After you’ve, at the very least, created profiles on the following sites (see this post if you need to setup your Google+ business page and this post if you need to set up your Facebook business page), it’s time to start collecting online reviews for your law firm.
How to Collect Reviews for Your Law Firm
There are a number of ways your law firm can start getting more online reviews. But, it’s usually wise to use an online review management platform to help generate new reviews and to manage existing reviews across multiple platforms. With reviews going live on 20 or 30 sites at any given time, it can be cumbersome to try and keep up with multiple sites and hundreds of reviews. In addition, employing an online review management platform can provide your clients the easiest way to leave your firm a review.
Once you decide on how your firm law firm will generate and manage online reviews, the next step is to ask.
By ask, we mean, ask your clients to leave a review. It is, by far, the easiest way to give your review generation efforts a push. Ask and you’ll be surprised at how many people are willing to share their positive experience (just make sure you provide them an easy way to leave a review).
If you’re still nervous about how to ask for a review, understand your client’s thought process during the customer feedback loop.
One of the best ways to improve your reviews is to get honest client feedback. And there’s no better place to find that feedback than combing through your Google Reviews or Facebook Recommendations. Keeping an eye on reviews, especially negative ones, will help you find holes in your customer journey. Feedback is useless unless you’re using it to improve. Schedule time every month to review feedback from clients and make tweaks to help improve your business. While you won’t solve every problem at first, creating a regular feedback loop will eventually lead to more satisfied clients and a more scalable high-touch customer journey.
Law firms are adopting online lawyer reviews as a core marketing tactic at an unprecedented rate. Along with a few other industries, lawyers are seeing real benefits from managing and collecting online reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, Facebook, Avvo, and Lawyers.com.
These reviews are helping law firms gain the trust of potential clients, shoot their firm to the top of local Google search, acquire new clients by standing out in the search results.
If you’re not already, it’s time to augment and accel your law firm’s marketing strategy by making your lawyer reviews a focus. In just a few months your firm could start seeing incredible results at a much smaller cost than paid advertising and expensive SEO alterations. In fact, Podium now offers a free version of its review management platform.