We hear it everywhere: character is more important than your reputation.
Why? Because your character is who you actually are, while your reputation is simply what other people think of you.
However, in the world of business, especially law, it is your reputation that people will be consumed with. Every business needs to pay special attention to their online reputation and that cannot be emphasized enough.
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it,” according to Warren Buffet. Don’t let someone’s negative review be the five minutes that ruins your reputation.
Client Complaints Gone Viral
Social media is the perfect place to promote social awareness, have intelligent conversations, exchange ideas, and have a positive influence on others. The flip side to that is that social media can also be a cesspool of misinformation, hateful exchanges, and irresponsible gossip.
Unfortunately, many social media users exercise no restraint, have no filter, and have an overly dramatic reaction to anything that upsets them. They are often really good at getting their friends and followers on board too, and before you know it, your practice is suffering from a backlash of negative comments and reviews from people who may not even be your client.
Don’t Ignore the Needs of Online Reputation Management
Many businesses, including elder law firms, largely ignore their online reputation. For example, many businesses fail to claim their Yelp listing. This also means that they are ignoring the reviews on their listing, both good and bad.
By ignoring these reviews, you are suggesting that you don’t care about what kind of experience they had with you. Many law firms do the exact same thing with Google reviews.
Taking the time to say thank you for these positive reviews and responding appropriately to the negative reviews lets consumers and clients know that their experience is important to you.
Responding to Negative Reviews and Online Complaints
Now that you know how important it is to respond to negative reviews, it is important to understand how to do it correctly.
Here are a few pointers:
- Don’t respond with emotion – This is hard to do when you are caught in the crosshairs of a social media backlash, but resist the urge to respond defensively. It’s natural to want to respond with your side of the story, but in the legal world this comes across as unapologetic and will likely only make the problem worse.
- Reply with empathy – No matter whether you think the complaint is unjustified or not, try to respond to the client with empathy. Try to understand their feelings and express your understanding of them.
- Offer solutions – Finding a solution to some complaints is easy. For example, a restaurant owner might refund the cost of a meal when they receive a negative review. However, for a law firm that may not be so easy. For example, if a client is upset about how their case turned out, there isn’t much an attorney can do. However, if they are complaining that their emails or phone calls aren’t being returned, you can offer them alternative ways to keep in touch with you more easily. Even if the solution offered doesn’t appease the client, it will ensure others that you are at least taking steps to try to fix the issue.
Tools for Managing Your Online Reputation
There are companies out there that will gladly manage your online reputation for you. However, if you prefer to try to go the do-it-yourself route there are plenty of easy-to-use, free tools to monitor your online presence.
Here are just a few:
- Perch – This is a free app for Android and iPhone users and is a web-based app that will monitor activity on Twitter, Facebook, Yelp, and Instagram. When someone leaves a review on one of these sites, whether good or bad, you will get a notification on your phone.
- Google Alerts – This free tool is available through your Google account and lets you easily monitor new content on the web. To use, simply log in to your Google account and go to alerts. Add key words or phrases that interest you, including the name of your law firm. Google Alert will search for new content on the web that matches your terms and will send you an email notifying you of their findings. You can customize the alerts to be sent daily or weekly.
- Google My Business – This app can be used by iPhone or Android users and allows you to monitor and respond to the reviews of Google users. It is free as well.
- Yelp Biz – This free app is available for iPhone and Android and allows you to receive notifications of reviews, report inappropriate reviews, and respond to reviews on your firm’s listings.
- Facebook – This free social media tool will notify you whenever a review is left on your firm’s page and will allow you to respond to the review.
- Twitter Dashboard – This app is free and is similar to the Twitter app, but also allows you to monitor any mentions that are made about your law firm.
Although you may find it cumbersome to check multiple apps to review your online reputation, knowing what is happening to your online reputation should be an important part of your business strategy.
Not only is the overall reputation of your firm important, but the importance of your online reputation should never be underestimated.
At Bambiz, we work with elder law and estate planning firms and have extensive experience in developing social media marketing strategies unique to your firm, location, and potential client base.
To learn more about how we can help grow your business using online marketing, schedule a free 15-minute call with us.