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Online Business Development

Word of Mouth, Ratings and Reviews

By Gyi Tsakalakis

Your clients have been talking about you since well before Al … I mean Sir Tim … brought us the global tubes. But the Internet continues to change the way those conversations spread. A video (below) from Zero Moment of Truth sheds some light. You might think that these concepts don’t really apply to consumers of legal services. You’d be wrong.

Admittedly, the process that people use to choose toasters and hotels can be quite different from that which they use to hire lawyers. But while specific paths may vary, be it toaster, hotel or lawyer, people gather information. And much of that information gathering is done online. What people find when they search for information about you matters.


“If it can be rated, it will be rated.” — Rich Barton, Chairman, Zillow

Creating Good Client Experiences

Hopefully, it’s obvious that the first step in getting clients to evangelize your services is providing clients with good experiences. It can also be the most challenging step. Creating better client experiences means appropriately setting, delivering and exceeding client expectations. Setting and surpassing client expectations requires a complex orchestra of experience, skill and communication. This can’t be faked.

While creating excellent client experiences is necessary to develop new business via word of mouth, however, it is often not sufficient.

Your Clients Want to Share Their Good Experiences

It might surprise you to know that happy clients want to share their experiences. They do.

But keep some perspective. Most of your clients aren’t going to rush to Facebook to thank you for getting them acquitted. They’re not going to sing your praises for helping them file bankruptcy. But some might be willing to express their gratitude to you for listening to them. They might be willing to describe the peace of mind you provided by answering their questions. Maybe they’ll just say thanks for being there during a difficult time.

Today, most people are likely to express their gratitude with a handshake, an email or even a handwritten card. No doubt, these will continue to be common. But more and more people will be willing to express their thanks publicly. Some will even be eager to do so. Often, they just need to know how to do it. And so, making it easier for people to understand how they can provide positive feedback about you online just makes sense.

Creating, claiming, completing and engaging profiles on popular review and social platforms are some good ways to start. But you should also let clients know about the profiles and that you appreciate their kind words. And you might also give clients and colleagues a way to provide feedback on your sites and blogs. Having a system to encourage reviews can be a very effective way to marshal the evidence of your reputation and communicate the value of your services to prospective clients.

Including review remarks can also be valuable in terms of generating review-rich snippets in search results. Of course, you’ll want to review what your state’s rules are about publishing testimonials.

Responding to Negative Criticism

And, of course, you’re not going to be able to please all of the people, all of the time. Sometimes, your clients’ online commentary might be ugly. So it also makes sense to listen to what people are saying about you online and, where appropriate, respond to their criticism.

Gyi Tsakalakis helps lawyers put their best foot forward online because clients are looking for them there. He is a co-founder of AttorneySync, a digital marketing agency for law firms. You can find more of his writing at Lawyerist and Avvo’s Lawyernomics blog. You can ask him a question (or just say hi) on LinkedIn, TwitterGoogle+ and Facebook.

Image ©istockphoto

Categories: Daily Dispatch, Lawyer Social Media, Managing a Law Firm, Optimize
Originally published March 25, 2013
Last updated February 18, 2020
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