Online reviews are more powerful than ever. A recent study by Power Reviews even found, “97 percent of consumers consult reviews and 89 percent consider them to be an essential resource when making purchase decisions.” Those are some impressive numbers.
When approaching reviews, the first instinct of most lawyers (and businesses in general) is to amass as many positive reviews as possible. It’s only logical that you’ll want everyone to say nothing but good things about your law firm, and the closer you get to that coveted five star rating the better. Right?
Not necessarily. According to Power Reviews and other experts, bad reviews can actually be beneficial.
Allow me to explain.
When you get right down to it, online reviews have one primary purpose—to build trust. They’re meant to serve as a streamlined way for potential clients to see the collective opinion others have about your law firm. Within seconds, prospects can get an idea of what it would be like to hire you and how trustworthy you would be in handling their case.
But what’s interesting is that having nothing but good reviews can often be detrimental. According to customer engagement platform Reevoo, “68 percent of people trust reviews more when they see both good and bad scores. They don’t look at reviews in isolation; they definitely notice – and become suspicious – if there are no bad reviews.”
And that’s a great point. Having a five star rating and nothing but glowing reviews can create skepticism for many prospects. We certainly don’t live in a perfect world, so appearing as “a little too perfect” can work against you.
Many People Seek Bad Reviews
Power Reviews also explains that “85 percent of people seek out negative reviews, up from 82 percent in 2014. Notably, this number jumps to 91 percent among consumers age 18-29, pointing to the growing demand for transparency, especially among younger consumers.”
In other words, most prospects want to see the good, the bad and the ugly. They want to have a clear understanding of your law firm’s strengths as well as your weaknesses for an overarching vantage point. So once again, being a little too squeaky clean has its disadvantages.
What to Do with This Information
The bottom line here is that you should embrace negative reviews. Or as Power Reviews puts it, “Though it may be tempting to delete negative reviews, resist the urge. Negative reviews build trust, and consumers are actively seeking out this content to help them make informed purchase decisions.”
This isn’t to say that you want to go out of your way to get people to say bad things about your law firm. And of course you don’t want poor reviews to account for the majority. But it’s fine (and usually expected) that not every single person will sing your praises. A bit of bad with the good is completely normal and can actually help you build trust with potential clients.
And one final note. It’s important and considered best practices to respond to negative reviews as this tends to assuage the impact. Check out this resource from Vendasta for details on how to handle this.