Online reviews have had a rollercoaster time of things since they first started becoming the norm. Reviews on certain platforms have been open to abuse in the past, with fake reviews now being the target of a UK government crackdown. However, many review networks, such as Amazon, have been taking various steps in recent years to help ensure that they stamp out the review fraud and only host genuine reviews from verified customers.
Despite this chequered past, a 2016 survey about reviews (BrightLocal) produced the incredible statistic that 84% of people trust online reviews as much as they do a personal recommendation from someone they know. A different survey (Dimensional Research) shows that 90% of consumers say that their buying decisions are influenced by reviews. It’s one thing to see how reviews work for certain industries, especially retail or travel, but can it really make a difference for a legal firm?
The BrightLocal survey revealed an interesting statistic; that 90% of consumers read less than 10 reviews before making up their minds about a business. In essence, this means that although large companies with tens of thousands of reviews can claim to have a good average review rating, if potential customers are mainly looking at a handful of the most recent reviews, smaller legal firms can also get a look in. The survey also claims that 7 out of 10 consumers will leave a review if asked, which means that for any legal brand trying to stand out, putting in place a review gathering process is a vital part of their marketing strategy.
Signing up to a trusted third party review service is just the first step in the process. If all of your reviews are from those who have just started using your services, you won’t be getting the honest opinion of someone who has fully used your legal services for the purpose for which they are intended. Let’s face it, people reading reviews will want to know what customers experience when they have gone through the entire process. By creating an email template to be sent out once a client has been on board for a little while, another after someone’s case or claim has been fully resolved, and maybe another a few months down the line, you should get a more rounded collection of reviews.
Making use of your reviews to try to achieve organic star ratings on your search engine results and local listings is a whole other blog post, but it’s important to utilise everything you can to help your search results to stand out from your competitors’. Finding a way to prominently display your independent reviews on your site is a really important way to increase credibility with potential new clients.
It’s pretty much a certainty that you’ll never be able to please every single client. However, someone leaving a negative review about your legal firm needn’t be a disaster. How you respond to that review will usually also be publically visible, and if readers can see that you have tried to resolve the issue or learnt from the feedback, that positive signal about your customer service ethos can significantly work in your favour in the long run.
With a multi-angled approach to gathering and utilising reviews for your legal firm, you can build a firm foundation of ratings and influence to take your business forward.