Get Your Clients to Review, Renew, Refer & Repeat By Stephen Fairley

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By Stephen Fairley

THE VALUE OF REVIEWS
If you think that online reviews have no influence on your prospect, you’re dead wrong. More and more consumers are looking for online reviews about you and the only thing that may be worse than a negative review is to have no reviews at all! After all, wouldn’t you be skeptical of a product on Amazon or eBay that didn’t have reviews? Of course, hiring an attorney is a much bigger decision, which makes online reviews that much more important.

CONSIDER THESE 2013 GOOGLE RESEARCH FINDINGS:
• 89 percent of consumers say online reviews are trustworthy;
• 86 percent of consumers look for online reviews when researching products or services;
• 80 percent of consumers say negative reviews will dissuade them from making a purchase;
• And, 85 percent of consumers say they’re more likely to make a purchase if the product or service has favorable online reviews.

Google and Yelp! are the most influential online review websites, and the study showed that having no reviews is as bad as having negative reviews. So how can you get good reviews or offset negative ones? Here are some tips:

HAVE AN OPTIMIZED WEBSITE
This sounds simple, but having a website that ranks well in search results will allow prospects to see who you are and give you control over the message.

ASK CLIENTS FOR REVIEWS
Happy clients are the least likely to post a review, so ask your satisfied clients to go to Google, Avvo, LinkedIn or other websites and post their feedback on your services. I also recommend that you implement an exit interview process after each legal matter is concluded; this allows you to address any issues with your client that could prevent a negative review either online or via word-of-mouth.

NEVER POST FAKE REVIEWS

Consumers can sniff out the fake reviews and after that happens, you won’t be trusted. Not to mention this is highly unethical and may even get you in trouble with your state attorney general’s office for consumer fraud.

MONITOR ONLINE REPUTATION
If you get a negative review, respond appropriately online and offline. Acknowledge the review with a reasoned, rational response and then take it offline to attempt a resolution. Be sure to thank those who post positive reviews as well.

Most attorneys hesitate to become involved with online review sites, fearing a negative review. Let me share something with you: you cannot practice law without eventually having an unhappy client. Avoiding these platforms altogether because you’re fearful that someone will give you a negative review just doesn’t make sense. Don’t let your fear control you.

HANDLING A NEGATIVE REVIEW
The way to successfully handle a negative review is to have as many positive reviews as possible. Think about it, the last time you went to order something on Amazon, did the product have both positive and negative reviews? Of course!

But you still purchased it right? Why? Because innately we all know that there will always be someone who isn’t happy with a product or service. As long as we see more positive reviews than negative ones, we usually still invest in the product or service.

Recognize that it’s just feedback. By asking people to review you and give their honest feedback, you have the opportunity to grow, learn and improve the client experience. Although the experience can be painful, it is necessary if you really want to wow the client and build a lifestyle law firm.

If someone reviews you negatively on an open platform, don’t ignore it. Address it quickly and professionally. Let the individual know you’re sorry they aren’t happy and will do everything in your power to make it right. Let them know that although you have worked with hundreds of clients who are happy with your services, to hear that there is even just one who is unhappy upsets and concerns you.

Lately, I have had dozens of attorneys ask me about the benefit of posting reviews on Yelp! Quite honestly, I can’t recommend it at this time. I have had far too many attorneys tell me how they received their first negative review on Yelp! followed quickly by a sales calls asking if they wanted to advertise. If they advertised often the negative review would disappear. As soon as they stopped paying for advertising, their positive reviews disappeared and the negative ones reappeared. If I had only heard this story once or twice I could ignore it, but at this point, I’ve heard similar experiences dozens of times. I hope at some point in the future I can reverse my recommendation, but for now I think it’s best to stay away from actively promoting your firm on Yelp!

CLIENTS AS REFERRAL SOURCES
There are four primary reasons attorneys don’t receive more referrals:
1. Your referral sources aren’t adequately educated about what you do;
2. You’re too vague about your perfect client;
3. You don’t consistently communicate with your clients;
4. You fail to remind them to send you a referral.

So how do you identify your best client referral sources? Listen! You’ll learn what clients want and be able to deliver it, which makes for more referrals and better client retention. Here are some important methods you can use to actively listen to clients:

OPEN FEEDBACK
Always offer clients a way to provide feedback, through your website, an online survey and in your e-newsletter campaign. Simply asking for their thoughts is often enough to garner some important insights.

TRANSACTIONAL FEEDBACK
If you’re a regular Starbucks customer, you have undoubtedly received a free survey with your receipt. You provide them with some feedback online and you get a free drink for your efforts. This demonstrates the importance of asking clients for their thoughts about their experience with your firm. Keep your finger on the pulse of how satisfied they’re with how your firm is treating them, and you’ll have a satisfied client who is more likely to refer you to others.

SOCIAL MEDIA INTERACTION
Monitor your social media channels to see what people are saying about you. You can search for your firm name on Twitter and Facebook, and you should be regularly monitoring Avvo, LinkedIn groups, Yelp! and Google for other comments about your firm.

CLIENT SATISFACTION SURVEYS
Using formal client satisfaction surveys gauges client experiences with your firm. Send one out after each engagement is closed and respond immediately and personally to any negative feedback.

Once you have gathered a list of good potential client referral sources, you need to educate them on what your ideal client looks like. Here are the top five things your referral sources need to know:
1.What your perfect client looks like. You need to answer this question very specifically. The more clear your description, the easier people can envision your clients.
2. Why someone should hire you. I have written frequently about your unique competitive advantage. Be sure your referral sources understand the precise reason you’re better than your competitors and how you differ from others.
3. What problems you solve. By helping your referral source understand the kinds of problems you solve for clients, they will know what to listen for in daily conversations and be able to recommend you to someone who mentions having a problem you solve.
4. How you follow up. Your referral source needs to know you will follow up promptly and professionally with the people they send your way.
5. Why referrals are important to you. Let your source know that you rely on referrals as a way to build your business and how much you will appreciate their referring people to you. And finally, always remember to thank them and let them know that their referral is meaningful to you and your firm.

REPEAT BUSINESS FROM CURRENT CLIENTS
One of the most basic marketing strategies for law firms is getting additional business from current clients – yet many fail at doing this effectively. A recent research report from Hinge Marketing showed the two main reasons for this failure:
• Most service providers underestimate the demand from current clients for additional services.
• Most clients are unaware of all the services provided by their current provider.

Even if you’ve done a good job educating your clients about all the services you offer, they’re human, likely busy, and may forget. Here are four strategies to do a better job of erasing that disconnect:
DESIGNATE A DEDICATED RELATIONSHIP MANAGER
Usually the person responsible for managing the relationship is the one managing the daily work. The long-term relationship management can get lost in the demands of the workload. Consider designating someone to be a dedicated relationship manager, working closely with the day-to-day manager so he or she understands the client.

INTEGRATE A FORMAL REVIEW
Provide your clients with a monthly review to determine if there are any issues or opportunities they should be aware of.

LOOK FOR OPPORTUNITIES WHERE YOU CAN HELP
With the formal review, you can identify issues. Some the client can handle on their own; others may need your attention, whether it’s something you can offer to handle for them or give them a referral to another professional they may need on their team.

REVIEW ISSUES WITH THE CLIENT
Don’t wait for a client to come to you, be proactive in putting potential issues on the table and discuss how you’re able to help as a valued partner, not as someone with a sales pitch.

While this approach won’t work for every practice, it can be adapted. It’s all part of micromanaging the client experience – if you take the time to really know your clients and their problems, you greatly increase your chances for repeat business.

If you would like to learn more on getting clients to review, refer and repeat, I invite you to contact me.

For more information, please visit www.TheRainmakerInstitute.com