I frequently speak with lawyers who are worried about increasing their numerical rating on AVVO. The logic behind their wanting to do so is understandable. They think that clients will be more likely to retain them if they have a high rating number. In my humble opinion, however, these attorneys are getting it wrong. I’m a big believer that they err by focusing on increasing their rating. Instead, they should focus on getting good reviews, on AVVO, from former clients (which doesn’t have anything to do with the rating number on your profile). By focusing on getting good reviews from former clients you make potential new clients more likely to pick up the phone and call you. Let’s look at why you’re better off focusing on client reviews than on your numerical rating.
If you’re reading this then chances are you are familiar with AVVO’s rating number. You’re also likely familiar with the fact that former clients can review you on the service. In calculating the numerical rating, the service does not consider reviews of former clients. Instead, they consider things such as work experience, publications, and endorsements from other attorneys1. It’s entirely possible to have five-star ratings from former clients and actually have a relatively low AVVO numerical rating. In my time consulting with law firms, I’ve formed the opinion that potential clients don’t care about that numerical rating which, again, is comprised of things such as publications, awards, and other resume builders that an everyday person doesn’t want to hear about. A customer is more likely to value the opinion of other customers and not the opinion of the legal community, which is reflected in the rating through lawyer endorsements, etc. Let’s look at some real world examples and how you can go about building up a bank of good client reviews.
Attorneys err by focusing on their AVVO rating instead of former client reviews
When I ran my law firm I focused heavily on building up a good bank of reviews from former clients. I didn’t focus on building up my numerical AVVO rating. I think it’s safe to say this approach worked; I started my firm in my living room in 2006 and in 2010 my office had revenue of $1,046,695. When consulting with clients of our attorney website design services I often, often, often (often) suggest that clients put their energy into building up an ongoing (I stress the “ongoing” part) bank of client reviews and that they not even worry about the numerical rating. As a result we have clients who have five star ratings from many former clients while having AVVO ratings as low as the 6-7 range. This is in contrast to many lawyers who spend time building up a “10” rating but don’t build up reviews from former clients. The result? Our clients have seen substantial increases in their revenues. In other words, potential clients are ignoring the average AVVO rating number and are instead paying attention to what former consumers have to say.
The reason why a bank of AVVO reviews (as well as good reviews on Google and Facebook) will boost revenue is simple. It makes the people already coming to your website more likely to pick up the phone and call. Some studies have shown that as many as 61 percent of consumers consult online customer reviews before pulling the trigger2. By building up those good client testimonials you make more of these people likely to schedule a consultation with your office. It only makes sense that customers are going to care more about the feedback of other customers than the feedback of attorneys.
Lawyers can quickly build up reviews by following a two-step process
I regularly speak with lawyers who state that they ask clients for reviews but that people do not follow through and complete them. You can greatly increase the percentage of people who leave reviews by following a two-step process. I can’t stress enough that you have to follow both steps.
First, you should call the client right after their case has completed and thank them for allowing you to offer assistance. Tell the client that they can call you at anytime if they need anything. Then ask the client if they would be kind enough to leave you some good online reviews if you were to email them the links for doing so. After they agree thank them again and tell them you will email the links right away. It should go without saying, but you would be surprised, that you should only ask clients for reviews if you are sure they are going to leave you a good one.
Second, once you end the phone call with the client send them the following email:
Dear [name of client]
Thank you for saying that you will take the time to review my firm online. It is greatly appreciated. Should you ever require assistance in the future the please do not hesitate to contact me. Here are the website links I mentioned:
The links to AVVO, Google, and Facebook should go straight to the sections of those websites where the clients would leave you a review. The fewer times the client has to click around then the more likely they are to leave the review.
I can’t stress enough that you have to do a phone call followed by the email when requesting reviews from a client. If you don’t do both then the percentage of clients actually leaving the reviews will drop quite dramatically.
As you build up more reviews on those three websites (I would suggest only focusing on those three) you will see your phone volume increase. You should make asking for reviews a never ending process. In other words, even if you have eleventy-billion good reviews you should still be asking clients, who you know are happy, to chime in. This will allow you to convert more of the web traffic you are already getting which, in turn, means you don’t have to spend more money to increase phone volume.
Why do you think attorneys ignore building up reviews and, instead, focus on their AVVO rating? Please chime in through the comment form below.
1 AVVO Support Center accessed on January 20th, 2017 at https://support.avvo.com/hc/en-us/articles/209993713-How-can-I-increase-my-Avvo-Rating-