Law Firms Can Avoid Bad Reviews by Providing a Great Client Experience
Back in the day, word-of-mouth was the only means by which attorneys signed clients. Lawyers who fought hard were rewarded with referrals and a steady stream of business based on their renown and prestige. A major difference between now and then is the rise of online business review platforms such as Google and Yelp, as well as lawyer-specific sites like Avvo.
According to the American Bar Association, 81 percent of consumers shopping for lawyers and legal services look at attorney reviews, and 81 percent also believe online reviews of attorneys are important.
Review sites are like “the grapevine” on steroids, but whether its fruit is sweet or sour depends on how you manage your practice in the digital age. Even non-clients can play a role in shaping your online reputation as anyone can leave a review for your firm whether you signed them as a client or not.
For right or wrong, these sites are integral in determining how people find, evaluate, and select legal services providers like you. Below we will identify the top complaints clients had about law firms followed by solutions you can put into place to avoid them.
What Are Some of the Top Reasons Clients Leave Bad Reviews for Law Firms?
If you want to avoid negative feedback for your firm, it’s helpful to know what motivates clients to leave bad reviews in the first place. Here are some of the top complaints lawyers receive from their dissatisfied clients:
Lack of communication – By far, the number one complaint clients make about their lawyers is about poor communication. This is reflected in bad Google reviews for law firms all over the U.S. and is also the number one ethics complaint clients make about their lawyers. If you take away nothing else from this article, it’s imperative to understand the importance of communication with clients. How well you communicate can affect how your clients perceive the value that you create for them, and thus what rating you ultimately receive.
Unprofessional service – When people call a law firm and speak to an intake specialist, they’re often distraught, confused, and in pain. They want and need a compassionate, knowledgeable voice to help them. If the specialist is rude, unprepared, or disinterested, the prospective client will be left feeling like they don’t matter. That’s a problem for any law firm. Similar problems arise when clients perceive that their lawyer’s not professional because of missed deadlines, lost documents, and inept performance.
Didn’t fight hard enough – It’s expected for personal injury lawyers to say that they fight for all their clients, but the reality is that some don’t always give every case the same effort. Clients who say their lawyers treated them like a “small fish” often cite as evidence behaviors such as taking a settlement too easily, glossing over details that could’ve led to a larger payment, or siding with the insurance company just to get the case over with.
Took too long – From the moment someone is injured, their immediate thought turns to being made whole again and getting their life back. Besides getting paid so they can cover their bills, clients want the sense of closure that comes from satisfactorily ending their case. Allowing unnecessary delays makes clients feel like their lawyer is an anchor holding them back from justice, rather than a motor powering them toward it.
What Can You Do to Prevent Negative Reviews Before They Occur?
Solutions to the most common complaints clients have about their lawyers might seem simple, but they can actually become quite complex, even for modern, sophisticated law firms. Fortunately, there are legal case management systems (CMS) like GrowPath that facilitate a professional client experience from intake to settlement.
Here are some of the ways a CMS can help your law firm avoid bad reviews:
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate.
When in doubt, it’s best to over-communicate with clients rather than risk under-communicating. We’ve never seen a lawyer get a bad review for following up too much.
GrowPath can help by automating communications so your clients receive an email or text whenever there’s a change in their case. You can also use it to set smart reminders to follow up based on customized rules, such as when a check arrives or a certain amount of time has passed since you last reached out. Finally, you can keep track of the dates and content of interactions so you know exactly where to pick up the conversation with each individual client.
Treat everyone like they are your most important client from the moment they reach out, even if you can’t help them.
Your firm’s intake process is the first time clients engage with your brand. Asking informed questions and making them feel like they matter even if you don’t take their case are crucial aspects of protecting your online reputation.
Having referral partners to whom you can send clients that aren’t a fit for your firm is also a great idea. If you don’t have a referral partner who can help them, then it’s best to decline their business respectfully. This demonstrates to non-clients that they’re still important even if you don’t take their case.
GrowPath can help by prompting intake specialists with questions to ask based on input from the client. The Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven BuzzwordsTM feature helps you discover other cases your client might have based on their circumstances. Real-time lead scoring allows you to determine which cases are the best fit for your firm and which are best to refer out. The Lotto feature also enables you find out if there are any class-actions or mass torts they may be a part of.
A smoother, more thorough intake process will make clients and non-clients alike feel like they matter, and your firm will have a much easier time avoiding bad reviews and earning good ones.
Fight for your client and yourself.
The effort you make for your clients and the outcomes you produce reflect upon you professionally and personally. By fighting for the rights of all your clients with the same vigor, you define yourself as a lawyer who strives to protect clients’ best interests. GrowPath can help with features that track cases, automate processes, and store evidence so you’re always one step ahead of each case deadline. It can also help determine which employees are the best to assign to cases based on their ability, production, and workload.
Follow up and follow through.
You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by expediting case resolution for clients without sacrificing quality of service. GrowPath helps with features that send prompts as cases progress so your staff always know exactly what to do and when. The result is a great experience for clients that makes them feel up-to-date and in the loop. Nothing falls through the cracks, there are no pointless delays, and nobody feels forgotten. Furthermore, reducing wasted time translates directly into increasing your bottom line.
For example, according to client feedback, one firm realized a 54 percent time savings with GrowPath, allowing it to receive their case fee more than 100 days faster on average. Another firm saw a 45 percent reduction in negotiation time and an increase in their average fee of nearly 300 percent.
Interested in learning more about how GrowPath can help your law firm avoid bad reviews online? Reach out to one of our specialists to learn more.