I recently wrote an article for the Hennepin Lawyer magazine about the importance of online reputation for lawyers called The Zero Moment of Truth and Your Practice. Consider this post an unofficial addendum to what I said there.
Happy clients rarely think to go and leave their attorney a review, but unhappy ones do. A bad review has seven times the impact of a good review, and people who would leave a bad review are exponentially more likely to leave a review in the first place. Does it seem like the deck is stacked against you?
If you don’t employ a reputation strategy, it very well may be.
You can hope that your clients will go to review sites and leave you a good review. However, hope doesn’t make for a very good strategy and doesn’t often materialize into results quite like a well-timed request. It’s okay to ask your clients to leave you reviews on the web or to give you testimonials for your website. The time to ask is when good feelings are high – that could be near the beginning or near the end, but if it is near the beginning you had best make sure that good feelings stay alive.
Have you ever heard the expression, “the best defense is a good offense”? In this case it is true. The more good reviews you have under your belt, the less impact a negative one will have. People may think the reviewer is a crank. They may think you had an off day or an off case. Will the bad reviewer’s word be gospel? No. But that is if and only if you have plenty of other good reviews already out there.
Which leads me to Yelp.com. Even asking people in a systematical, targeted way to leave a review for you doesn’t always work. It’s really a numbers game. I consider it a success when one of my clients follows through and takes his or her time to leave a review – anywhere. It all helps. Facebook, Linkedin, Google+, Avvo, Yelp – really, anywhere. I personally discovered, though, that Yelp takes down legitimately earned good reviews. I looked into the situation and learned that Yelp finds positive reviews suspect, but not bad reviews. The practice is widespread enough to be written about on Forbes.com by Jim Handy – Think Yelp is unbiased? Think Again!!
The formula for getting a good client review is this:
Expected result + Great Experience + Request for Review + Luck that Client Follows Through = Good Review
We are not (generally) in a high volume business like a restaurant, or a dry cleaner. To make matters worse, our client reviews take time to cultivate, as legal work is rarely quick or painless. The last thing an attorney needs is to have their good reviews disappearing as fast as they are being generated.
My new advice is this: have a reputation strategy in place and systematically ask your clients for testimonials or reviews, but not on Yelp!
by Kimberly Hanlon