Historically, referrals have been a great resource for obtaining new clients. This resource is still relevant today, as referrals often come from peers who have identified a need within their client relationships or from clients who are happy with the service they receive. Potential clients, however, are evolving the way they do their research. Many are going beyond asking their attorney or friend by using online reviews as a tool in choosing their accountant. Online reviews can be scary for businesses because they are out of their control and are on display for the world to see. By utilizing the 3 best practices below, online reviews will no longer be a threat, but an opportunity.
- Ask for Them
In a recent blog post, we discussed gathering client testimonials. The same method applies here – the best way to build your online reputation is to ask your clients for feedback. Start by asking your clients to post their testimonial as an online review. Make it easy by providing their testimonial and instructions for posting to the desired site (Google My Business, LinkedIn, Yelp or Facebook are good ones) in an email. Another method is to develop a list of clients who have liked your firm’s Facebook or LinkedIn page and invite them to write a review of their experience. Include your request, brief instructions and a link to the site. Providing incentives for participation isn’t off-limits; consider including clients who wrote a review in a drawing for a fun giveaway. Most likely, those who respond will leave positive experiences but if you receive a negative review, see best practice #2.
- Respond, Respond, Respond
Negative reviews are hard for a business owner to read and even harder to approach. If you receive a negative review, respond to it – promptly. Marketing professionals and firm administrators are in a great position to monitor and respond politely and apologetically to the review. When responding to negative reviews, keep the following in mind:
- Ask the reviewer for their email address so you can take the conversation offline.
- Involve the lead partner and other staff that work with the client, and make every attempt to alleviate the issue.
- Use the opportunity to educate and train staff on areas of improvement.
- Once the problem is resolved, ask the client if they would consider revising their online review.
Responding to reviews goes beyond just the negative ones. As a best practice, thank all reviewers for taking the time to share their experience and express your gratitude for their loyal business.
- Monitor Your Online Reputation
The online reputation of a business can be a powerful tool, but it goes beyond reviews. If someone is talking about your firm, you’ll need to know as soon as possible if you want to leverage or stay ahead of it. Monitor key phrases associated with your practice by creating Google Alerts. Be specific with your keywords and create alerts that go beyond your business by including competitors, industry areas and specialty services.
As we mentioned before, promptly managing online reviews depends on your firm’s ability to consistently monitor the web. Sites can assist by sending an email when a business review has posted or create calendar reminders to check reviews daily.
The best advice we can give is – do not fear. While it’s wonderful to hear positive feedback from your clients (and I’d venture to guess most of your online reviews will be positive), negative feedback is an opportunity to learn and grow. If you’d like to discuss a strategy for your firm that involves online reviews, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.