According to a FindLaw survey, 38% of consumers turned to the internet to search for a lawyer. That was in 2014. That number jumped to 58% by 2017. It was also stated that when choosing an attorney, reputation mattered the most. In fact, 87% put reputation as their top factor in their decision making.
Based on an article on Firmidable about online reputation, 83% of your potential clients will read online reviews first. And where are they checking? Over 63% are on Google checking out your reviews. With these statistics in mind, it’s time to pay attention to not only your online reputation, but what people are saying.
A Strong Reputation and Trust Are Vital to your Business
Now with the numbers out of the way, let’s talk business and how to improve yours. When it comes to online reputation management, it’s no longer something you can put off until later. Here’s a scary number, 94% have avoided a business because of an online review. One review. One bad review. Imagine if you have more than one…what does that do to your bottom line and practice?
Trust matters. While we want to believe that it’s not a big deal to have a few errs on the web, you’d be mistaken. People lose trust when they see a poor rating. In fact, whether it’s intentional or not, we’ve got a built-in bias. Subconsciously, these small details trigger reactions. In internet terms, that means we keep searching for somebody with a better reputation or rating. The internet makes it easy.
And let’s not overlook the impact that COVID-19 will not only have on the world, but on the law field in particular. The pandemic created a crisis that put a crunch on businesses, businesses that are questioning if enough has been done to keep them afloat financially, to concerns of continual liability issues from clients once things are fully operational.
Families lost jobs. Homes will be lost. The legal system will be entangled with COVID-19 cases for years to come. Everything will be scrutinized. Was enough done? Were there ways to avoid the fallout? Lawyers will be in the middle of the cases that argue for those businesses and individuals whose lives were turned upside down.
With that in mind, having a stellar online reputation is vital. You aren’t the only lawyer out there. If your reputation is tarnished, others will take your place.
What can you do?
It’s important to monitor your practice, personal, or firm’s reputation. And remember that people aren’t simply leaving starred reviews on sites, but also commenting on social media posts, writing blog articles about their circumstances, or interacting in forums about their experience with your legal practice.
Your first response might be to react by quickly answering a negative review, but this swift action may end up causing more damage. Take a deep breath and look at your options. Can you work out an issue with the client to have it adjusted? Should you get it deleted by a reputation management company, or tell your side of the story with a lengthy reply? If you can’t fix the issue, focus on building up your positive reviews.
Some options are out of your control, but there are things you can do to buffer a negative review.
· Focus on positive reviews. Ask happy clients to leave a review.
· Build trust and authority by offering helpful information and resources on your website.
· Be empathetic and show your human side. Remind prospective clients that you care about your cases and your clients as individuals.
· Make sure your bios on places like your website and LinkedIn is both professional but shows you have compassion.
· Consider how you engage with clients. Do you return their calls promptly? Answer their questions in a reasonable amount of time, and thoroughly?
· You may be an expert in your field, but are you standoffish or approachable? Are you accessible to potential clients in a way that shows you’ll have their back while working together?
· Professional ethics matter, but being personable does, too. A website blog is a great opportunity to not only showcase your legal talents, but to also allow you to show you’re simply another person trying to do good in the world. It’s a great place to show how you’ve helped people just like your potential clients, what you’ve done to help your community, and build your visibility.
We need to connect to people, and building your reputation is in your hands. What will you do to help control the conversation? Contact LawLux to discuss your online reputation management plan and how we will become a vital partner.