There’s no doubt that an attorney’s reputation is crucial for landing new clients and growing a successful legal practice. Whether you’re a divorce, tax, real estate, or general practice attorney, your reputation is tied to your success. As the digital marketplace has grown, it’s become the No. 1 source for prospects to learn about your law practice and one of the first things they are likely to consider is whether prior clients have left positive or negative reviews for your business.
While positive reviews boost your chances of getting a new client, negative reviews do the opposite. If you dread receiving a new negative review online, you’re not alone — and for good reason:
- 96% of people seeking legal advice use online search to find an attorney.
- Approximately 83% of people check lawyer’s’ reviews as the first step to finding an attorney.
- 70% of clients are willing to go to an attorney in an inconvenient location if that attorney has better reviews and higher ratings than legal professionals closer to home.
The truth about negative reviews
It’s impossible to live in a world of 5-star experiences, so it’s best accept that bad reviews can happen for even the best businesses and then make a plan for how to address them. A few things to consider::
- Poor reviews can provide essential feedback that ultimately helps improve your business
- Addressing bad reviews doesn’t have to be difficult
- The best way to combat bad reviews is to get many more good ones!
If you’ve been practicing law for any length of time, you’re well acquainted with how effective online reviews can be for attorneys. Previous clients have the ability to post whatever positive or negative feelings they have about their experience with you to more than a dozen websites that are viewable to ANYONE. This massively hampers the chances of converting the fresh prospects whom you trying to attract through your effective work.
No matter how effective you are at litigating, you’re going to receive bad reviews online. Unfortunately, clients don’t understand that situations oftentimes determine the case, not the quality of the attorney. So these clients take to the internet to vent their frustration, which can really harm SEO for lawyers. How do you deal with these negative attorney reviews to improve your reputation?
Take a look at this scenario:
Wow, that may be enough to make some questions all those long hours pouring through law journals. But before despair sets in, consider that if negative reviews are properly addressed, your online reputation can not only be saved, but actually be improved. First let’s look at some situations that are likely to provoke your clients to write bad reviews.
There are a variety of scenarios that can make your clients post negative reviews about you, including:
- A discontented client expressing his views on the service received
- You are mistaken for a different attorney, who unfortunately provided poor service
- The review is from a competitor who is trying to bring you down
- The prospect client was unable to reach you because the wrong contact information was listed online
- The reviews is from the opposing party in a recent — who likely lost because of your brilliance
- The client may be frustrated because the cost of service was higher than they hoped
Reading something negative about yourself posted in public can spark some strong emotion. We already know that negative reviews can reduce the number of new clients you get via online, decrease the number of people who visit your website and negatively affect the way prospects perceive your practice. But this isn’t the time for a quick and angry response.
Having an effective strategy for responding to and managing negative reviews online will be crucial. Check this response to a negative review:
This is a perfect example of an attorney addressing the situation. Responding to negative reviews not only protects your reputation, but also improves how you show up when someone is conducting an online search. Left alone, negative reviews are likely to cost you, both in reputation and in billable hours. But with the right approach and response, negative reviews provide you with an opportunity to minimize client issues, demonstrate that you’re invested in getting them a positive resolution and show prospective clients that you’re worth contacting, even if they have to drive a bit further.