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Reviews...Are They Important?

4 Stars, 5 Stars, Thumbs Up...

People read reviews and reviews have a heavy impact on whether or not they spend their money on something.

There is perhaps nothing more important to consumers than seeing the opinions of other consumers about the products and services they are thinking about spending their money on. About 90% of all consumer have read online reviews at some point in the time (it’s nearly impossible to avoid them on sites like Amazon), while about that same percentage put as much trust in those reviews as they would in the recommendation from a friend.

Following are some insights gathered from research regarding online shoppers to help highlight what legal consumers might be thinking when they read your online reviews.

1. They are looking for detail.

Even though we’ve all read that glowing review on Amazon that says, “I love this product!”, it’s essentially useless. You can always replace these comments with a 5-star rating and call it a day. People read reviews because they want to know why a product or service is so great. Is it the color? The quality? Great customer service? Best bang for the buck? When reading reviews, most of us are looking for something specific. When taking an important client out for dinner, you might want a restaurant that others describe as the “hottest new” or “all-star chef,” not just “great.” The same thing goes for lawyers. People are reading your reviews because they want to get a sense of who you are when you’re in action. Comments like “She’s an excellent attorney,” though positive, aren’t useful. But comments like “She always answered my calls in a timely manner” or “She studied every detail about my case before going to trial” say a lot more.

2. They are looking for something real.

When a consumer is reading a review for a product or service they can easily detect a canned review. How do they know? The words are too orchestrated; the review can read like a PHD thesis, too formal. The consumer can see that the review must have been bought or written by the manufacturer or service provider, so they move on. Many consumers feel this way: if the review doesn’t sound real, they ignore it, no matter how positive it is.

So what’s real? Many people like to read reviews that unfold like stories so they can imagine what it would be like to experience the product in the other person’s shoes. It’s no different for lawyers. Sure, you can ask a client to leave a glowing recommendation that is perfectly crafted, but consumers want to hear about the real experience. They want to relate.

3. They are looking for the negatives as well as the positives.

When an e-commerce consumer was asked about reviews, she said that when she’s buying a product online, she scrolls down to make sure there’s at least 1 negative review. “If they’re all positive,” she said, “something’s fishy. Nothing is perfect.” The same can be said about lawyer reviews. No one expects a lawyer to be perfect. A single negative review can bolster the credibility of the entire review process since less-than-stellar feedback—as long as it’s the exception rather than the rule—can make consumers less likely to think that the reviews were bought or that the system was rigged.

No doubt that having too many negative reviews is not a good thing. But one run-of-the-mill negative review is not a threat. It can actually be a blessing. The best way to react is to respond to the negative review and step it up and get a couple more positive reviews to balance it out. The good stuff people read about you will suddenly carry more weight.

The Gist:

When it comes down to it, people are shopping online for lawyers just like they’re shopping for everything else. When you think about your online reputation, think about what you look for when you’re shopping and how reviews shape your purchase decisions. Consumers crave authenticity. They want details, they want stories, and they’re often looking for a few imperfections to validate all those glowing reviews. Granted, you can’t control what clients decide to write, but you can encourage them to be specific in their reviews. As it turns out, when it comes to how you run your practice, transparency sells.

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