It can’t have escaped your attention that specialist online legal review sites are burgeoning. “Tripadvisor for law firms” really has landed. Sites such as Rated Solicitors, founded by Midlands-based employment solicitor, Dean Morris, have led the way and more are planned.
I guess the development of these sites was inevitable in the modern world, but how do you feel about them? Most marketing savvy solicitors know that placing testimonials or reviews prominently on their website is a basic requirement. However, you vet those reviews. How do you feel about reviews which are outside of your control?
As a solicitor, you are in the public eye. Your clients will, at the very least, discuss you and your firm with other people and recommend you or not as they see fit. The usual rules apply. If their perception of you is good, they will probably tell between five and eight others and maybe produce a referral. If they feel your service was bad, they will tell a minimum of twenty.
For the review sites, only a minority of clients will post a review. However, that review will be seen by dozens if not hundreds of people.
Over the last year, there has been much coverage in the legal press about transparency. The Solicitors Regulation Authority and Legal Services Board in England and Wales and the Law Society of Scotland have committed themselves to this. Transparency with clients about the costs of services for conveyancing, wills and family law are the key areas. To say that these proposals have met with a mixed reception by the profession is an understatement.
The regulators’ proposals have opened up the debate on the online review question. How should law firms respond to the reviews they receive? Reviews containing positive comments or constructive criticism are one thing. Astute practitioners will learn from these and modify their approach to provide a better service. Negative and even “angry” reviews are quite a different matter. All the online review sites have a process you can go through to address these. Some bad reviews can be fake and others just plain inaccurate. Whatever the case, you do have the right to reply and redress.
There is another side to the issue: what should the regulators do about negative reviews? At present, they respond only to complaints received through official channels. For example, complaints about service quality are usually directed to the Legal Ombudsman. Should these complaints involve professional conduct issues, the Ombudsman refers it back to the SRA in England and Wales. So, when a service or professional conduct complaint is made on a review site, what should the regulators do? Should they monitor these sites? Should they investigate? There is no clear-cut policy for this at present.
Firstly, don’t bury your head in the sand. Review sites have become a feature of modern purchasing and are likely to be around for some time. Embrace them and use them to your advantage.
Secondly, don’t make fake favourable reviews for your own firm or negative ones of competitors! You can do both anonymously on some sites. Inevitably, you will be found out. This practice does go on but is not as widespread as you may think. The Competition and Markets Authority estimates that 1%-2% of reviews are fake (positive or negative).
Thirdly, deal with negative reviews the moment you receive them. If you suspect they are malicious or contrived, complain to the review site. If you suspect they are the result of a client’s frustration with your service, engage with the client and put things right.
This really is the bottom line. If you receive a plethora of negative reviews, the chances of them all being fake are limited. It’s more likely a case of either poor service or poor communication. The key things you can do are:
The last item on the list is by far the most important. Most “bad service” reviews occur because clients feel either that nothing is happening or things are happening too slowly. Alternatively, they just simply don’t know what is happening. If case timings are slipping, let your clients know before they feel obliged to find out for themselves. Silence on your part is not golden.
Finally, if you wish to go a stage further in managing expectations, consider a client portal. This is a web-based application that runs in a browser and allows limited access to your case management system. It gives you the option to present controlled matter information to selected clients in real time. Client portals are accessed by secure logon and allow you to provide as much or as little case information to your clients as you see fit.
“Tripadvisor for law firms” is here – make it work for you.
© LawWare Limited 1995-2019
Our clients range from small start-up legal practices to multi-partner, multi-site firms.
Another great customer service experience from LawWare. My laptop had to be stripped back to factory settings as part of a repair - taking hours! In contrast, restoring LawWare took one phone call to the support team and I was up and running in 6 minutes. If only everything was so easy!
As the first commercial user of LawWare back in 1998, we have had no hesitation in remaining with the product through its development. We thoroughly recommend it to any firm looking for a practice management system.
The helpdesk is exceptionally good. Whatever the query there is always a human being there to help. No leaving messages or being advised to go to a website. The best computer service for solicitors I have ever used!
The linking of documents and casefiles saves so much time! I have experience of several accounts packages and I like that LawWare is simple to use and easy to learn. Support is quick and effective and staff are helpful and courteous.
I have worked with a number of Case Management providers over the years but have not come across anything with the attention to detail and thoroughness of LawWare. My colleagues and I have not been disappointed.
I can’t imagine trying to be a law firm in the 21st Century without 21st Century IT systems. Having a ‘single system’ that underpins all the work, whether we are in the office or out, is an integral part of what we are building.
The level of support is the main benefit using this system. The system itself once you have had training is simple and easy to use. We have a great relationship with LawWare and the ongoing support is second to none.
Significant preparation was required to configure and import the data from our old firm. We had to get all clients onto the new system and then learn how to use it. We just find it very easy to use, much easier than our old system.
Being a busy litigator with a growing firm it is incredibly useful to be able to view my files from any location with some form of internet connection. I am a fan, and want to keep working with LawWare to make a good product great.
The switch to the new LawCloud system, which is still on-going, has gone very well. We found the LawWare team without exception to be very helpful and knowledgeable. All queries are followed up and dealt with promptly.