Online Reviews: Your Law Firm's Most Important Trust Signal
Imagine for one moment, a customer searching online for a product. Clicking the search button will reveal many sellers of the same or similar products. How does a customer decide where to take their business?
Online reviews play a critical role in customer psychology when deciding to purchase. Over 92% of customers read online reviews as part of their shopping journey (PowerReviews, 2016). Online reviews don't just play a role in online shopping. Online reviews play the same critical role when a client is looking for a professional service provider, including lawyers.
Online reviews are relevant to lawyers who have traditionally relied on word of mouth from past clients, strategic referral partnerships from local accountants, real estate or medical professionals, advertising or sponsorships, to acquire new clients. Did you know that clients look at online reviews even if they have been referred to a lawyer or law firm by someone they know? Online reviews are now known as the modern-day word of mouth.
What are online reviews?
This may sound like a simple question with a straightforward answer. The logical answer is that an online review is feedback left by a customer or client after buying a product or making use of a provider's service. It does, however, go deeper than the simple answer. Online reviews are the most important trust signal for prospective new clients.
“Reviews on Google, and sites like LawTap, are often the first point of contact for new clients who don't come by way of referral.”
— College of Law's Four Simple Marketing Tips for Law Firms.
What are trust signals?
Trust signals indicate to a prospective customer that a website or business is trustworthy. Popular trust signals include:
- Online reviews on third-party websites
- Endorsement from relevant social media influencers or media ('as seen on TV')
- Use of a website security certificate and trust seals like McAfee Secure
- Transparent pricing
- Transparent policies - privacy, shipping, delivery and returns
- Visible contact information
- Public social media profiles
What are trust signals for lawyers and law firms?
Trust signals indicate to a prospective new client that a lawyer or law firm is trustworthy. Trust signals, in order of importance for a prospective new client, include:
- Online reviews on third-party websites (e.g. Google, LawTap, etc.)
- Transparent service offering and pricing information which allows prospective new clients to self-qualify before contacting the lawyer or booking an appointment
- Relevant high-profile case or media references
- Useful content - both on the law firm's website and social media
- Relevant bar association or law society accreditation/endorsement trust seals/logos
- Relevant bar association or law society membership trust seals/logos
The importance of online reviews for lawyers and law firms
Online reviews are the most important trust signal when a prospective new client is looking to contact or book an appointment with a lawyer. Online reviews also go a long way in improving a business's online reputation.
A positive online reputation builds trust, making prospective new clients more likely to trust a law firm. This leads to more new clients and more business.
Do clients read online reviews?
- 90% of consumers use the internet to find local businesses. Of those consumers, 82% state that they read online reviews for local businesses (BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey, 2019).
- Customers read an average of 10 reviews before being able to trust a business (BrightLocal Local Consumer Review Survey, 2019).
- The likelihood of doing business with a business that has more than five (5) reviews is 270% higher than a business with no reviews (Northwestern University Spiegel Research Center, 2017).
Do online reviews influence Google Search results?
Online review signals make up 15% of Google local search ranking factors (Moz Local Search Ranking Factors, 2018). This means that more online reviews make a law firm rank higher in local business organic search results in Google Search and Google Maps.
Don't fear negative reviews
Many lawyers fear negative online reviews, which have the potential to negatively influence a lawyer or law firm's trust signals and online reputation.
Some clients will inevitably leave negative reviews. A lawyer or law firm can transform a negative review into an opportunity to correspond with the client and change the narrative to its benefit. For instance, resolving an issue quickly can turn unhappy clients into returning clients. Also, having all positive reviews only can generate skepticism and reduce credibility.
One way to better manage online reviews and increase a firm's online reputation is to ask existing clients for their feedback as soon as appropriate. Unfortunately, clients are more likely to leave a review for a bad experience than for a good experience. A law firm should obtain reviews from clients who have had a positive experience to lawfully boost its online reputation.
Convert more potentials to clients with LawTap
Building a positive online reputation takes time and work, but, ultimately, contributes immensely to the success of a law firm.
LawTap is the best appointment booking and scheduling software for law firms. LawTap also includes automated verified appointment reviews which build your law firm's reputation, are easily shareable on social media and can be showcased on your law firm's Google Business Profile.