Review websites are exactly what they sound like, reviews are posted about businesses, products, and services by consumers who have used the business’s services. Early review sites such as Epinions, launched in 1999, gave consumers a way to express their love or hate for products. However, modern-day review websites are used to evaluate more than just products.

With dozens of review websites available to consumers reviewing service, products, cleanliness of offices, and whether or not they would recommend a business, it easy for law firms to be weary of how review websites could work for them rather than against them.

Some of the most popular review websites include:

Yelp! – Primarily focusing on restaurants, the review website also covers shopping, home services, automotive care, hotels, and professional services such as law firms. Ranking is based on 1 to 5 stars and users can provide a written review of their experience. However, there are also Yelp! Elite members who act as city ambassadors and whose reviews are weighed more than those from regular reviewers.

Google +/Places – Previously known as Google Local, Google Places allows businesses to register themselves with Google and thus be listed on Google Maps. Users are then able to leave reviews directly on your Google Places page. Google+ is incorporated with Google Places so it is important that law firms sign up for both of these free services.

Facebook – With more than 1 billion monthly active users, Facebook has become a place where consumers can reach out to local businesses and their favorite brands to provide positive or negative feedback. Reviews are often based on a five star rating however many users tend to simply comment on a business’s page about their experience.

Martindale.com – Specific to law firms, clients can log on to submit a review of their experience with specific lawyers. Ratings are based on communication ability, responsiveness, quality of service, and value for money.

A law firm’s website is another great way to showcase positive reviews. Whether it is by having a specific page for testimonials or showcasing quotes from clients throughout the website, firms should always showcase when they receive positive feedback from clients.

Handling Negative Reviews

It is important to note that with positive reviews also come negative reviews. Before telling your social media manager or personnel to hit the delete button, know that there are ways to handle bad reviews. First and foremost, many review sites do not permit business owners to remove negative ratings so unless you wish to delete your entire profile, you will need to learn to manage and respond to negative reviews.

When a client has a complaint, acknowledge the issue and respond with tact. If you wish to respond publicly keep it professional. You could respond privately, however, responding privately could indicate to other consumers that you have not acknowledged the problem. One of the best responses an attorney could have is to apologize without redirecting the blame toward the reviewer; admit a mistake was made and ask for input on resolving the situation.

Why Buying Reviews Is Not Worth It

The ability to buy reviews is tempting for most businesses, but they are not worth it as most violate state laws and the terms of service for review websites. Furthermore, posting fake reviews violates the model rules for legal ethics which prohibits false or misleading communications about the lawyer’s services. Additionally, rules for legal ethics also prohibits paying for a person’s recommendation of said lawyer services.

Asking for Client Reviews

If your firm cannot buy reviews, then how can you ensure that your firm receives reviews for your services? There are a few ways law firms can begin to collect and display reviews from clients.

  • Include a link in your email – Links to social media sites and review sites can help your firm obtain more followers, likes, and overall reviews of your services.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for one. The majority of your clients will have personal social media accounts so don’t be afraid to ask for a review.
  • Reach out to users who have reviewed you on other websites. If a client has reviewed your services on Yelp! reach out to them to request for reviews on other sites, especially if they were happy with the help you provided.

In a 2008 study entitled “Do Online Reviews Really Matter?” it was found that the number of online user reviews is a good indicator of the power of underlying word-of-mouth effect and increases awareness. Nowadays many large corporations have included review websites into receipts and emails which shows that reviews are important to business growth.