Posted by Sam Borrett, director of Legal Futures Associate Legmark 
Moving customer reviews of your business onto a publicly accessible platform can be a terrifying experience.
What if everyone posts a terrible review?
If that’s the case, then you don’t have a functioning business anyway.
But you are almost certainly going to generate mostly positive reviews if you are mostly successfully satisfying your clients.
In an industry that is feeling pressure from all sides, any opportunity for word-of-mouth referrals and leveraging the goodwill of your customers, is increasingly important in generating cost-effective new business.
What’s more, review stars on your search results increase click-through rates, and click-through rates can increase your Google rankings – leading to more traffic.
If you don’t already have a review system in place via an independent third-party review platform, and have integrated these reviews dynamically onto your site with Schema markup , giving you the review stars in Google search results, then you need to stop reading now and sort it out!
For everyone else still reading (and feeling rather smug about being ahead of the curve), where are your video testimonials from customers? What about your Google reviews, Facebook reviews and what process do you have in place for managing reviews internally?
Let’s be honest, there aren’t many law firms doing this well – which gives you an opportunity.
How to choose a review platform
There are only really two main review platforms – Trustpilot and Feefo.
Feefo is a closed platform system, which means you can only submit a review if you have been a customer. Trustpilot is an open platform so anyone can post a review, whether you’ve been a customer or not.
You have to choose which you feel more comfortable with. Both will allow you to have star ratings on your search results and both will integrate well with your website.
With Feefo, you control when invitations to submit a review are emailed to clients by uploading a file to Feefo or automating this process to connect in to your systems. But manual still works fine.
On Trustpilot, you could get a review from anyone at any time, so you need to be more vigilant in monitoring feedback.
Both platforms allow you to respond to reviews and to request removal of reviews that are clearly false or offensive.
Where else can people leave reviews?
You need to be aware of all the various platforms and publishers that allow users to submit reviews – any negative reviews must be dealt with in a timely, polite and constructive manner.
Pay particular attention to social media channels – set up brand monitoring in your social media publishing software – and keep a regular check on the much less used specialist review sites.
You might find comments and reviews on any of the following: Facebook, Yelp, Reviewsolicitors.co.uk, or Solicitor.info.
How to win at reviews
Sending your clients an email to review your service knowing the results will be automatically published online for the world to see can be daunting.
There are a number of things you should put in place before setting up the reviews system:
- Tackle any existing known issues;
- Create a resource internally for handling reviews; and
- Set up a review process with an SLA on responding
Tackle existing known issues
If you are aware of common complaints or problems in the business, then it would make a lot of sense to deal with those first, before opening up to public reviews.
Speak to your customer service and marketing communications teams to find out what they’re dealing with on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis.
Evaluate the responses in your customer surveys for any common themes or issues.
Make sure you’ve ironed out the creases.
Create internal resource
There will inevitably be less than perfect reviews – you can’t please everyone all the time.
It’s how you deal with them that matters.
You will need to identify someone (or a team) in the business to own the reviews and properly deal with anything that needs addressing.
This person/people need to be familiar with online review platforms and social media such as Facebook, and have the time available to promptly respond.
They should have a customer service background – it may be a role for your communications officer to pick up.
Have an agreed process
You can’t let negative reviews sit there unanswered. It’s bad for business. It’s vital that whoever is ‘owning’ the reviews internally is supporting by an agreed process that staff have bought in to.
Usually the person monitoring and responding to reviews will need additional information from the fee-earners who have dealt with the case.
If a negative review has been left, there must be a clear process of investigating the case, evaluating the complaint, and crafting a suitable response.
This should all be done within an appropriate time frame – with a holding message to immediately address the review pending a more comprehensive investigation.
You should also consider your tone of voice when dealing with reviews – avoid the jargon and legalese and respond in a way that makes you look great.
Remember – it’s not a courtroom and you don’t need to win an argument!
Finally – Be realistic
Don’t be scared of negative reviews. If you only ever listen to the pats on the back and words of praise, you’ll only ever believe you’re amazing.
Sure, it’s nice to know you’re appreciated, but it’s only when you hear the constructive feedback can you improve.
A 100% or 10/10 review rating is simply not believable. No company perfectly satisfies all its customers every time – and that’s OK because people realise this.
However, the way that you deal with a negative response speaks volumes about the business and can actually have more impact on potential clients that reading pages of positive reviews.
Properly handling negative reviews also tells you so much more about your business and how you can improve and prevent similar problems in future by perhaps adjusting internal processes or client communication.