Diagram of how to manage reputationWe’re two-thirds of the way through our 30 day challenge and are entering the home stretch. If you’ve been implementing the steps from our first 19 days then you should be seeing an increase in business. We’ve already looked at increasing call volume. These included how lawyers can leverage free advertising and why lawyers should invest in video content rather than spending on other advertising. We’ve also spent time discussing why focusing on conversions is the best way for a law firm to increase business immediately. Today we’re going to take another step in better converting your increased web traffic into clients – we’ll start managing your online reputation.

Many attorneys make the mistake of improperly managing their online reviews

It’s important to remember that there are multiple steps to “converting” leads into clients. Once someone finds your website then the site needs to convert that person into a phone call. Your assistant/receptionist needs to convert that phone call into a consultation. Finally, you need to convert that consultation into a client. Managing your online reviews goes a long way towards the first step of converting web traffic into phone calls.

Many potential clients finding your website will look at your online reviews before deciding whether they should pick up the phone and call. Attorneys make three common mistakes in review management. First, many lawyers ignore their online reviews altogether. Second, many attorneys make the mistake of getting reviews on sites other than the ones where potential clients look. Finally, many law firms err in how they handle negative reviews.

Put yourself in the shoes of a potential client considering whether they should hire you. They take a look at your site and they feel you may be the lawyer to call. Then they go to your AVVO or Google Local profile to look at your reviews. Not only are there no reviews to be found but you haven’t even taken the time to fill out the profiles or upload a picture. You’ve just missed a good opportunity to give that person a shot of confidence as to whether they should call. Fully filling out these profiles is free and not time-consuming. Failing to do so is simply silly.

Lawyers also fail to consider a potential client’s perspective when deciding where to get reviews. I recently consulted with an attorney who was proud of all the good reviews he acquired on Yellowpages.com. The problem with this was that people aren’t looking there.  When a client asks where they can leave you a review it’s important to understand where potential clients are looking. The big three are AVVO, your Google business page, and your Facebook business page. When you ask a client to leave you a review these are the three places you should focus on. Be mindful, however, when asking for reviews. Some state Bars have rules against asking a client to review you online. Florida, for example, has gone back and forth on this issue[i].

Finally, understand how to handle bad reviews (and yes you will get some). There will be the occasional bad review that an opposing party leaves in spite along with a few others. First, don’t respond to a bad review. It then looks like you’re arguing with the person and is a turn off for people. More importantly, familiarize yourself with the dispute policies of different review sites. It amazes me that most attorneys still aren’t aware that negative reviews can often be removed from a site. For example, I recently consulted with a family law attorney who had been left a negative review, by an opposing party, in a divorce case. I helped her initiate AVVO’s dispute process (which took all of 15 minutes) and the bad review was removed from her profile. So in other words, if you’re left a negative review go through the dispute process and you’ll be surprised with how often you can have them removed altogether.

One final task is to adjust your email settings so that you receive an alert anytime someone leaves a review on your various profiles. This allows you to manage your online reputation quickly.

Most attorneys, for reasons beyond my understanding, ignore their online reviews completely. This is another area where, if you are willing to do just a little bit of work, you can really distinguish yourself from your competition and quickly increase business.

Day 20 action items for attorneys growing their law practice

Online reputation management is something that takes little time but provides a huge return on that small time investment. If you want to truly set yourself apart from your competition then take the following steps:

  • Fully fill out and complete your AVVO profile, your Google business page, and your Facebook business page (if you don’t have a Facebook page then create one).
  • Adjust your email settings so that you receive a notification when you are reviewed on these sites.
  • When a client asks where they can leave a review, or you ask for a review, make sure the client is directed to these three sites.
  • Familiarize yourself with the dispute process for each of these review areas and make sure negative reviews are quickly disputed and removed when possible.

As your firm grows you’re going to have more work to do. Tomorrow we’ll take some additional steps to increase efficiency so you can do more with less and avoid taking on additional payroll for just a little longer.

 

[i] Attorneys May Now Use AVVO ratings in ads http://www.floridabar.org/DIVCOM/JN/JNNews01.nsf/cb53c80c8fabd49d85256b5900678f6c/95e24ff4b6bba34b852574330051f421!OpenDocument&Highlight=0,avvo*