5 ways law firms can manage their online reputation

Achieving and maintaining a positive and credible reputation online is now critical for businesses.

Most solicitors will admit that, as a body, they have been ‘behind the curve’ in embracing the opportunities that the web has to offer the legal sector.

Most haven’t seriously embraced the web as a marketing channel. PPC and SEO are the obvious opportunities with social media being a rather more difficult fit for law firms,

The average firm may have set up their Google Local Business account, even sent a tweet or two. But when this short dalliance with the web has failed to deliver an immediate return firms tend to abandon any further efforts.

In terms of building a positive online reputation, this is perhaps the most dangerous position for a firm to be in. Having set up one or two online profiles, Yell and Google most commonly, firms have effectively built a lightning rod for client feedback. Given the significantly higher propensity for a client to write a negative review (as opposed to a positive one), firms may be sitting ducks.

A brand search for many law firms reveals negative online review profiles that will likely be damaging the firm’s ability to generate new work. TYpically the firm appears unaware as no attempt to reply in the name of the frm has been made.

If you are a law firm and you haven’t looked at your online profile, you should Google your firm’s brand name and see what clients see when they carry out their due diligence before instructing.

You should also carry out a search and append the word ‘reviews; to your firm name.

If your firm has reviews and you feel that they may be damaging – don’t panic. With a bit of time and effort you can address and improve your firm’s online reputation. The following 5 steps will help you recover and promote a positive profile of your firm:

  1. Make a list of all sites containing reviews on your firm, read all of the reviews and categorise each one as positive or negative.
  2. Where the site allows you to do so (most do) write a reply to each of the positive reviews thanking them for their feedback Be honest and friendly and if possible, get the solicitor that handled the case to write it.
  3. Negative reviews are of course harder to deal with. These can be further divided into ‘deserved’, ‘not deserved’ and ‘fake or untraceable client’.
  4. Start proactively managing your online reputation. If there are already review sites ranking highly for your brand then these should be used for your positive review strategy. You can also set up a profile in a review site where you have more control over the client verification process. Feefo for example allow you to send review requests to your clients directly. This means that you can prime your clients to expect the request and eve ask them if they would write something positive (if you are sure you deserve it!). Some sites such as Good Solicitor Guide have review policies that won’t allow the sort of vitriolic emails that are so commonly written about solicitors. The Good Solicitor Guide has a ‘constructive policy’ meaning that reviews are only published if they are deemed to offer constructive feedback.
  5. Plan to ask your clients for feedback on an ongoing basis. Don’t expect them all to be positive, in fact a balanced and realistic review profile is probably me credible than a no warts one. What matters is how you handle , and are seen to handle criticism. Replying to negative reviews quickly and positively is paramount. Give the client your direct line and ask them to contact you to discuss the situation is a good strategy. Prospective clients will see this as a good indication that you care and where you are not perfect, you will act quickly to resolve any problems.

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