The Most Frequently Missed Opportunity for Law Firms

One of the most frequent missed opportunities we see is a poorly defined intake process. For all the effort and expense firms put into getting in front of prospects and encouraging potential clients to call, it’s baffling that the first person-to-person interaction with prospects is so often mishandled.

A well-defined intake process sets the tone for the firm’s success by providing a positive experience from the outset and improving the likelihood that a prospect will be confident signing on as a client.

Even in instances where the firm can’t help or doesn’t have an interest in a particular case, the role of intake is to provide information, and ideally an alternative solution, so the caller doesn’t hang up the phone feeling like the firm was rude, uncaring, or disinterested. One unpleasant interaction over the phone or with front desk staff can lead to a scathing one-star review that paints the firm in a negative light to other potential clients.

1-Star Review From Bad Intake Experience
Negative reviews from non-clients can often be avoided through great communication from a well-trained intake staff.

Within the legal industry, intake can be exceedingly complex and there are often numerous variables that can make a huge difference in the likelihood of a firm being able to deliver a favorable result. In addition to asking the right questions and getting prospects to share relevant details of their case, the intake staff also needs to maintain a strong rapport with anyone seeking to hire the firm and be available and responsive to any inquiries into the firm’s services.

This means intake staff needs to be:

  • Able to reliably answer the phone during business hours
  • Capable of responding quickly to online contact forms, text messages, or chat leads
  • Empathetic to any hardships or concerns the caller may have, regardless of whether the firm can help
  • Great at communicating next steps and making sure the prospective client understands what’s going to happen once they hang up the phone

Very few firms have all of these locked down, but the ones that do are in a strong position to convert their marketing “leads” into actual revenue. For firms that don’t have a reliable intake process (and staff) in place, there are holes in the business that can bleed profit and lead to reputation management issues.

Scenarios that are all too common include:

  • Unstaffed phone lines during business hours as employees go to lunch or take breaks
  • Slow turnaround time contacting prospects that fill out web forms or inquire through third-party chat vendors
  • Staff that assumes callers already understand the legal process or nuances of how their firm works
  • Being too quick to dismiss callers once it looks like the inquiry doesn’t align with case types the firm wants or can profit from
  • Inadvertently turning away unusual case types the firm does want, but that don’t align with typical inquiries

All of these things can be potentially damaging, and when multiple errors are occurring regularly it’s hard to justify a large marketing budget to drive inquiries that might be mishandled.

Ensuring intake staff are well trained and representing the firm in a professional fashion is one of the most impactful items for generating incremental revenue. Increasing close rates, improving customer experience, and providing a level of service that helps mitigate 1-star reviews from non-clients will go a long way toward improving the overall health of any firm.

If this portion of your practice hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, contact Mockingbird today for assistance with intake auditing and training.

How to Assess the Success of a Website Redesign

Not all website redesigns are created equal. In many cases, updating a website is the obvious starting point for addressing technical issues, modernizing design and usability, or updating your brand. Done correctly, a new website should offer a boost to your overall business.

Key metrics to look at when assessing whether a new website is successful:

  • Site speed
  • Organic traffic
  • Usability
  • Conversions

Each of these metrics can be tackled by answering the questions below.

How do technical benchmarks compare against your previous site?

By analyzing site speed, on page scripts, image optimization, outdated plugins, and even the platform the site is hosted on, you can get a pretty accurate picture of whether the new website offers an improvement over what you had before.

Unless you’re adding massive new functionality or downsizing your firm, there shouldn’t be any reason to take a step backwards in terms of site speed or hosting. Moving your hosting platform can potentially tank your site, and developers with no understanding of how search engines actually work can build a nice looking site on a terrible foundation.

Ideally, your new website should only show improvements or equivalencies when it comes to technical benchmarks.

Site Speed Before and After
The dramatic improvement in site speed between old (above) and new (below) is one key indicator a recent redesign was a success.

Are more people finding the site organically?

Although it’s not uncommon to see a dip in traffic following the launch of a new website, one of the best indicators that things are going well in the search engines is an increase in organic traffic.

All pages you’re trying to drive traffic to should be indexed in Google (and the search engine also rans) and getting visitors. Post launch increases in organic traffic are a great indicator that smart decisions were made during the website redesign process.

Do potential clients find it easier to navigate?

You want your new site to be as easy to use as possible. Prospects shouldn’t be struggling to find information or get to the appropriate internal pages. Without using tools like Hotjar to monitor user sessions, the best way to gauge the performance of your new website is by comparing bounce rate, average page views, and time spent on site against the previous iteration.

If people are less likely to leave, looking at more of your content, and spending longer on your new website, that’s a great indicator that things are going well.

How do your conversion rates compare with the old site?

Even if traffic is up and people are spending more time interacting with your new site, it’s not a true win if they’re not requesting your services. By comparing the old site’s conversion rates against the new one you’ll get an accurate picture of the incremental improvement between the two.

Regardless of traffic, if a higher percentage of visitors are reaching out to learn more about whether your firm can help them, it’s a strong signal that your redesign improved your ability to generate new business.

Is it helping you achieve your business goals?

The ultimate goal of your redesign is to get more business. This can mean more clients, higher value clients, or even a shift in which portion of your practice you’re trying to prioritize. Although it’s not always directly tied to driving revenue, that’s definitely the most common goal.

Very few firms are effectively tracking marketing on a cost per client level, but even if it’s only being looked at on a cost-per-inquiry basis, reducing the cost you pay for each qualified lead shows the money you spend on a website redesign was an investment rather than an expense.

Summary

Website redesigns can be extremely expensive and failing to take a data driven approach is a great way to burn money and create massive frustration. Projects of this scope should be approached as an investment in your business and any good agency will work with you to measure the results of their work, continue to refine and improve post-launch, and push for decisions during the redesign process that will not just “look nice” but actually help your firm be more successful.

Pitch Mockingbird for Just $250

Want to Sell Us Something?

As our agency continues to grow, we’ve been getting hit up by an increasing number of vendors with “can’t miss demos” and offerings sure to help us “take our clients to the next level.” Normally we’re kind of aloof and take a “we’ll find you” approach to identifying potential partners. However, a savvy move from SharpSpring that consisted of an unsolicited maze (pictured below) and a generous offer to buy lunch for our team may have changed our entire philosophy.

 

maze from SharpSpring to Mockingbird
SharpSpring’s ambition is your (potential) gain. No need to send us a maze, just buy us lunch.

Every Friday our team meets to discuss the latest tactics, solutions, and opportunities for our clients. We share notes (and a few beers) during the weekly “Thinking & Drinking” meeting, and up to this point all it’s been lacking is consistent catering.

That’s where you come in!

We Can Be Bought…

If you buy us lunch, we’ll be your captive audience for 30 minutes while you run through all the reasons we should buy/use/recommend your company’s tools/products/services. We’re not even going to be that picky about what you’re shilling…only what we’re eating.

Give us $250 for lunch and we’ll give you 30 minutes of our time.

As a savvy marketer you’re probably already doing the math on this and realizing it’s too good an opportunity to pass up. But, to sweeten the pot we’ll also give you the following:

  • Hypercritical feedback on your presentation skills
  • A brutally honest assessment of your product or service
  • A blog post from one of our team members about your company’s pitch
  • The unlikely chance at legitimately selling us on something we didn’t know we needed

At worst, you get a bit of free coverage on our blog and the chance to write-off $250 as a “marketing expense.” At best, you’ve gained the once in a lifetime chance to pitch a market leading agency for the cost of several pizzas and a couple cases of beer.

Fill out the contact form or call to schedule your pitch. Slots are going to fill up fast, so don’t delay. We look forward to hearing what you do and why we should care.

How Bad Chat Implementation Can Kill Your Website

It’s already hard enough getting people to your site, so once you’ve succeeded in having a prospect click an advertisement or organic result, you want to do everything you can to convert them into a client. At the least, you want to have a chance to see if they’re a good fit for your services.

Unfortunately, one of the tools that’s supposed to make it as easy as possible for people to contact you can have the exact opposite result you’ve intended. Offering a “chat” option on your site, when done poorly, can absolutely kill your conversions and send your bounce rate through the roof.

We’ve written before about how you should be very cautious with the way chat is implemented on your site. However, one recent incident noted by Premier Law Group, highlighted the importance of carefully monitoring any changes to your chat script.

Premier Law Group has managed to keep their bounce rate somewhere in the neighborhood of 20-25%. This means that only approximately 1 in 5 visitors leave the site without viewing more than one page.

The traditional chat interface they’ve used has been the somewhat obtrusive, but fairly commonplace dropdown similar to what’s pictured below:

typical chat dropdown display

It’s pretty annoying, but only takes up the upper portion of the screen.

Following negative feedback from users about the annoyance of having a chat bar cover the top of the screen by default, the firm attempted to mitigate this by immediately displaying the chat popup and allowing users to clear it if they didn’t want to use the feature.

It had the exact opposite result of what they’d hoped.

Analytics for Thursday, Oct. 4th
Analytics for Thursday, Oct. 5th

Can you tell which day they changed the chat interface to a full screen popover?

There’s been plenty written about the SEO dangers of using pop-ups, but this highlights exactly how poor the user experience is when you aggressively push something that’s only useful to a very small percentage of visitors.

Premier Law Group was savvy enough to immediately catch the jump in their bounce rate, concede that the well-intentioned change was a bad idea, and revert to the previous chat display.

The full screen takeover was live for a few days, and immediately following the change back to the old version, the bounce rate settled back into the 20% range.

The eventual compromise was to move the chat display to the bottom of the screen, so at least the top navigation is accessible when it’s being shown on arrival.

Ultimately, whether the additional conversions from chat is worth sacrificing user experience is a question every firm should think about prior to implementation. However, once you decide to add chat on your site, be very careful about how it’s displayed or you might be doing a lot more harm than good.

Stop Googling Yourself

If you grew up with an older sibling, cousin, or mean-spirited family member you might remember the “game” where your own hand was forcibly and repeatedly pushed into your face while the offending party mockingly taunted, “why are you hitting yourself?”

The game, if you can call it that, really only served the purpose of making you feel bad. It was a stupid exercise and entirely unwinnable.

Fast forward to now. You have a business. The days of having someone else bullyingly smush your hand into your face are way behind you. You’re all grown up.

Instead, you sit down at your computer and play a new equally unwinnable game: you Google yourself.

Why are you Googling yourself?

It’s easy to rationalize why checking in on your online presence by pretending to be a prospect would be the right way to stay tuned in to what’s really going on.

But it’s not.

Here are the reasons Googling your business is about as constructive as repeatedly hitting yourself in the face.

  1. It’s incredibly inefficient

How does a handful of one-off (and highly personalized) Google results provide you with any actionable information?

The best-case scenario is a lot of back patting and self-satisfaction. You’re number one in the rankings for the search you ran while logged into your gmail account and sitting in an office at the business you own. Well done. Now what?

Inversely, the worst-case scenario is your result is buried pages deep and now you’re combing through dozens of competitors that are kicking your ass for whatever search you just ran. What do you do with that information?

Either way, the answer is to start digging into more detailed metrics. Why not skip the first part and focus on the items that really matter?

This leads to the next reason…

  1. You have better metrics at your disposal

The most misleading rationale for Googling your business is the idea that you, “want to know how things are going.” That’s deceptive at best.

You already have a strong sense of how things are going.

You have access to your own books, your own analytics, and all your account information. You’re firmly dialed into the daily results and have a strong sense for how business is trending.

At the end of the day, most business owners will prioritize profit. This means clients and revenue are the most important metrics.

Beyond the bottom line of money and clients, qualified leads and inquiries are what drive your sales pipeline and keep business growing. Measuring inquiry volume, close rates, average cost per inquiry, and your average cost for each new client is where you can see the data that actually impacts your success or failure.

If your lead volume has dropped from an average of 100 inquiries per month down to 50, is it going to provide solace that you’re still ranking number one for a few key searches?

Similarly, if you’re not finding yourself on page one, but your website is generating a high number of quality leads from search, there’s a high likelihood you’re only focusing on a couple isolated data points from a much bigger set.

  1. You’re not your customer (and never will be)

Google has estimated that approximately 15% of their search volume is completely unique. That’s about 500 million searches a day that Google hasn’t seen before.

Your prospective customers aren’t always finding you the way you’d expect.

Yes, some high-level search terms are nearly universal, but that’s only one piece. Rather than trying to simulate a few results from the “research phase,” it’s more valuable to look at the complete picture.

What do your clients consistently ask about? What are their biggest concerns? How can you address those questions on your website in such an effective way that they’re immediately convinced they don’t need to look anywhere else?

Take time to read your competitors’ websites. What are they saying or doing that differentiates them from you? What can you do to stand out?

Building unique and creative content that provides a perfect answer for a never before seen Google search is going to convert better than another “me too” white paper, resource, or article on a topic that’s covered on 1,000s of pages across the web.

You should already know your customer’s profile, needs, concerns, and goals. Mimicking a query for the search term you hope they’ll use to find you is a fruitless exercise.

  1. It can have a negative impact

Worst of all, your attempts to monitor your own online presence can actually be detrimental to your online presence. How’s that for a Catch-22?

You probably already know that clicking on your PPC ad is the equivalent of taking money directly from your wallet and handing it to Google. But even when you don’t click on that ad you’re generating an additional impression.

When an ad appears frequently and fails to get clicks it starts being shown less and your cost of bidding for that search term goes up.

The impact on your organic rankings is less dramatic, but clicking on competitor listings and spending time on their site stewing about how your business is better still sends a signal to Google that this was a quality result.

None of this should suggest there’s no value in knowing where you rank relative to your competition. There is.

Yes, the importance of individual rankings is often grossly overstated. But there are still plenty of reasons this information can be useful and should be monitored.

That’s why there are tools available like GetStat, SEMrush, and BrightLocal that allow you to obtain more accurate analysis. That way you can get more reliable data without impacting your site’s performance in the SERPs.

Still not convinced Googling yourself is a bad idea?

Fine. You’re going to do it anyway. Human nature is a funny thing.

At least make sure you’re using a VPN and a private browser whenever you sit down for another session of slowly smacking yourself in the face.

And before you do, please take a few extra seconds to consider “why are you Googling yourself?”

The Single Most Underrated Marketing Tactic

With the overwhelming number of channels and tactics available to market yourself to potential clients, it’s easy to overlook the one item with the greatest ability to drive conversions: authenticity.

While it’s easy to write off “be yourself” as trite advice, it’s equally easy to get swept up chasing new opportunities and lose sight of what makes you or your business unique. There’s a natural inclination to want to be all things to all people, but in many cases the result ends up being a watered-down message devoid of any personality.

Very few businesses have the ability to scale effectively and service an entire category of the marketplace. For everyone else, carving out and owning a niche is the more realistic path to success.

Even Amazon started as a bookseller and slowly added new categories over time. Is there any reason to think your practice is so remarkable it can offer solutions for every possible type of client?

The most successful firms we work with are the ones with a clear vision. They know who they are, they know exactly what their market is, and they’ve built their messaging around communicating and reinforcing the value of the services they provide.

Some of the best legal marketing stems from attorneys willing to embrace who they are and inject personality into their business.

There’s a reason attorney bios are typically among the most viewed pages on a website. People want to know who they’ll be working with.

More importantly, people want to work with the person they think will be best suited to help solve their problem. That means it’s often better to be the ideal solution for a small group than one potential solution for a large pool of “shoppers.”

What does this mean in practice?

Embrace what makes you different.

You may have seen this ridiculous ad for Bryan Wilson, the Texas Law Hawk:

Is this ad going to turn off a lot of people? Probably.

Is the ad memorable? Absolutely.

He’s not going to convert everyone, but for a specific type of client he’s exactly what they’re looking for. The same goes for TV’s fictitious Saul Goodman. Say what you will about his ethics, the man understands good marketing.

Highlighting the things about yourself that make you unique can be the best path to increasing conversions.

Are you a “type A” fighter? Might as well embrace it. People are going to find out anyway, so target searches for “Bulldog Attorney” or “Vicious Divorce Lawyer” and try to solidify your reputation for toughness.

Do you prefer a less confrontational approach? Emphasize your skills in mediation and working towards a thoughtful resolution.

Even if your personality is the equivalent of plain oatmeal, you can build value around your ability to get the job done without being flashy.

The key is to honestly assess what makes you unique and spin it to your advantage.

Once you’ve developed a voice for your brand it’s easier to figure out what clients are likely to hire you and where you should be advertising in order to reach them.

You don’t need to resonate with everyone in order to be successful. What you need to do is resonate with the people you’re already best suited to help and convince them of your value. If you can do that, the rest of your marketing starts to fall into place.

What do you REALLY need in your marketing mix?

We’re frequently contacted by clients who already have a clear idea of what they want from their online marketing firm. Sometimes they’re dialed in to the point where they already have a list of items they need help with and a clear roadmap for where they’re heading. However, this is far from the norm.

More often than not our prospective clients come to us either having previously worked with an agency (or multiple agencies) or as a blank slate looking to create an online footprint and start marketing their practice online.

In most cases, the bulk of our initial conversation is spent talking through the client’s goals and identifying which channels and tactics make the most sense in order to get them where they want to go.

For anyone asking, “what do we need to do in order to be successful online?” the response is always the same: how are we defining success?

In our experience, there are a few ways clients typically define success:

Success = Profit
I want to make money. If revenue is climbing I’m going to be happy.

Success = Specific Case Types
I want to target a specific type of case. Inquiries from other practice areas are a distraction or a bonus.

Success = Flexibility
I want to pick and choose which cases I can take. I want a high volume of inquiries and will pick which ones I want.

There’s merit to all three of these approaches, and each one necessitates a different set of tactics. This is one of the few aspects of our client’s practices where we can’t make an effective recommendation or provide any useful guidance. It’s up to each individual attorney to decide how they’re going to measure success and then let us adopt a plan that will help them achieve those results.

Stay Focused on the Big Picture

Once you’ve clearly defined what a successful marketing campaign looks like, it’s important to benchmark against your most relevant metrics (revenue, signed cases, or total inquiries) and make sure the tactics you’re prioritizing will help you achieve your overarching goal.

As an example, if your primary goal is to drive revenue, you shouldn’t get bogged down worrying about whether you’ve published any new content in the past month unless you’ve firmly established that new content is the best way to generate revenue.

Similarly, if you’re making a huge push for DUI cases it’s not worth obsessing over your site’s organic rankings for the more generic term “criminal defense attorney.” You’ll be better served keeping your eye on results directly relevant to the cases you’re trying to generate.

This isn’t to minimize the value of setting intermediate goals or looking at multiple trends, it’s merely a reminder to stay focused on what’s most important instead of getting paralyzed by the massive amount of data available on a monthly, daily, and even hourly basis.

So, what’s the most important thing in your marketing mix? Reliable data.

Measure What Matters

Almost no one comes to us specifically asking for business reporting, yet it’s arguably the most valuable service we provide. With all the data available through Google Analytics, AdWords, CallRail, Search Console, and countless other tools, it’s easy to identify which pieces are contributing to the success of your business and which ones are distractions.

Did you publish 5 blog posts and get zero clients and zero backlinks as a result? That’s probably not something you need to keep doing?

Is one channel driving 75% of your inquiries for car accident cases? You might want to expand your budget there…assuming your goal is either more PI cases or more revenue.

There’s no substitute for knowing what’s actually working. Gut feelings or informally polling your new clients about how they found you is unreliable at best and comically misleading at worst.

If you want to win at search, you should do the things that work and ignore the ones that don’t. That may seem simplistic—because it is—but it’s not possible if you don’t clearly define a goal, configure your infrastructure to accurately track everything you’re doing, and then allow data to guide your marketing efforts.

Blogging for the Sake of Blogging

the malleability of content
…You put content onto a blog it becomes the blog.

Sometimes you need to write a blog post. You might not have anything to say, but as the date since your last post gets further and further away you realize it’s time to publish something. Anything.

I’ve previously argued in favor of not having a blog unless you’re committed to updating it on a regular basis. Still, even the most committed of writers gets busy from time to time and starts visualizing tumbleweeds blowing across their blogroll and dust accumulating on that post from a couple months back.

There’s only one thing to do. Get motivated, get your ass in gear, and knock out a post to get things moving again. It might not even be good (this post sure isn’t), but it still beats continued procrastination.

Writing isn’t something you can force, but it is something you can jumpstart with a little creativity. There are a few ways you can rekindle inspiration if you’ve been distracted with “actual work” and haven’t had time to prioritize your blog.

Here are a few surefire tips for knocking out a quick blog post even when you’re completely swamped:

Write about what you know

The less research you need to do for your topic, the easier it’ll be to write something semi-intelligent. Topics you already know a lot about are great because you can pull from past experience or existing knowledge without having to spend hours fact checking or looking for sources. Oftentimes the knowledge you take for granted will be valuable to readers outside your field who may not share your expertise.

Focus on generalities

Not every blog post needs to be a deep dive into the specifics of your chosen topic. Sometimes a quick hitter, high level overview is more than enough. If enough readers find it interesting, you can always go back and write a follow up post later that tackles the same subject in more detail.

Link to other articles or people

Your blog doesn’t need to be 100% your own material. You’re more than free to share interesting articles and topics being written about elsewhere. Offering a quick analysis or counterpoint to something someone else wrote can be a great way to mine content.

Publish your post (and don’t second guess)

If you feel like you’re merely blogging for the sake of blogging, second guessing your own work is all too easy to do. As long as it’s not a habitual thing, you should allow yourself the occasional “lazy” article. What feels lazy to you could still be useful to some.

Meta bonus tip: use a list format

Lastly, if you’re struggling to structure a post or chunk a topic into easy to write snippets, turn your article into a list. There’s a reason no amount of mockery will stop Buzzfeed from continuing to knock out listicles at a breakneck pace. Lists work, they get shared, and they’re pretty easy to write quickly.

In Summary

Even though as an agency we’ve railed against the obnoxious misconception that “content is king,” there is still validity in staying consistent with your posting. You won’t always know which posts are going to resonate with your readers, and waiting for the perfect topic can quickly become detrimental to getting anything done.

None of this is groundbreaking, but it should be useful if you’re stuck wondering whether a blog that’s now three months from the last publication date could use a bit of a refresh. At a certain point you need to get back in the habit of writing…even if it feels a bit like word vomit at first.

As long as you’re still writing in your voice, sharing something (marginally) interesting, and staying (tangentially) on topic, there’s value to be gained from keeping active.

The alternative option is to shut down your blog and admit defeat. That works too. But if you’re going to maintain a blog you need to stay committed to posting (semi) regularly.

How to Handle 1-Star Reviews

what percentage of Yelp reviews are 1-star?
15% of Yelp reviews are 1-star. You’ll almost certainly get a few. (Data Source: Yelp)

That saying about not being able to please all the people all the time is 100% true. If your firm does any sort of volume—and even if it doesn’t—there’s a strong chance you’ll encounter the occasional 1-star review.

Fair or not, the rise of prominent user reviews on Google My Business, Avvo, Yelp, Facebook, and a large number of other platforms means you’ll be getting constructive feedback from people that may have been less than satisfied with their experience.

For convenience, let’s categorize 1-star reviews into these three buckets:

  • Legitimate negative reviews from actual clients
  • Misleading reviews from prospects that weren’t actually clients
  • Fake reviews from people you never worked with

In theory, you should be able to have items that fall into the latter two groups removed completely, since they’d be in violation of most site’s terms of service. However, in our experience that’s an uphill battle rarely worth fighting.

Options for Handling a Bad Review

Realistically, once a bad review is attached to your firm’s profile it’s probably there to stay. Now you’re faced with some options.

  • Let the negative review drown in a sea of positivity
  • Try to remedy the situation that led to the bad review
  • Respond politely and take the conversation offline

All three of these options have merits, and the idea of taking the conversation offline is always a best practice. Getting into a heated back and forth with a former client in a public forum isn’t going to be a good look regardless of whether you’re correcting false claims.

It may seem that all the power is in the hands of reviewers, and to a degree that’s true. Fortunately, shoppers are getting more sophisticated and increasingly view the occasional 1-star review as a signal that the 5-star reviews are more trustworthy.

Perfection is unrealistic, and a business with a massive amount of glowing reviews and a flawless 5-start rating can breed suspicion. Are they manipulating their reviews? Are all of them real? How can everyone be unanimously pleased with this magical business?

Having a few dissenters goes a long way toward validating praise from the majority. As long as you’re striving to deliver a 5-star experience every time, occasional negative reviews will only make your profile stronger.

Handling Negative Reviews from Non-Clients

This example is a fun one, and not entirely uncommon. Let’s take a 1-star review for the Las Vegas law firm De Castroverde Law Group. Along with their handful of glowing reviews, the firm also has this gem that questions the integrity of one of their attorneys:

1-star Yelp review from a non-client

Even ignoring the SNL Guy Fieri profile image, there are a few other red flags in the review itself. The reviewer doesn’t mention whether Carmen Amen was his attorney, but instead focuses on his overall displeasure with her presentation of facts. For a profession as adversarial as law, reviewing opposing counsel with a 1-star rating is actually a weird form of flattery.

Digging even deeper, you can see that this same person left a two-star review for a criminal defense attorney that, “ass kissed the very cowardly DA, William “Billy” Knowles after he continuously made up BS…and manufactured charges.” He posted a 1-star review for the Las Vegas Metro Police because, “you wonder what kind of IQ standards the police have in hiring.” And another 1-star review for Family Courts and Services Center, saying, “These assholes should change the name to Mommy Court because all they do is crush fathers.”

Is it possible everyone is conspiring to make Ben G’s life as miserable as possible? Sure, it’s possible. But the more likely scenario is that this is someone who needs to vent and is using Yelp as his venue.

Most consumers are savvy enough to make the distinction between reasonable and unreasonable complaints. This one doesn’t pass the eye test and shouldn’t cause the firm much (if any) concern.

Should You Respond Publicly to a Bad Review?

Whether or not to respond is at the discretion of each firm. There are pros and cons to both options, and there’s not always a clear right answer.

In the example above, it’s pretty evident that this reviewer seems to have a chip on his shoulder. And, given the overwhelmingly positive reviews sitting alongside this one, it’s not a bad decision to leave it be.

The other option would be responding with something along the lines of:

“We’re very sorry to hear that you had an unpleasant experience with one of our attorneys. Although Carmen was not representing you, we’d be happy to hear your feedback if you’d be willing to contact us directly. Thanks!”

This helps maintain your professionalism while also pointing out to potential future clients that your attorney wasn’t actually representing the person that left a negative review.

Whether you choose to respond is up to you. The only thing you want to avoid is doing anything to escalate the situation and present your firm as combative or uncompassionate. As tempting as it is to say, “We didn’t even represent you. Our job was to protect your EX-wife’s interests, not yours!” That’s hardly a constructive path when dealing with someone willing to take the time to review his arresting officer in a public venue.

In Summary

As long as you’re delivering consistently exceptional service, the occasional bad review is nothing more than a minor annoyance. It’s a cost of doing business and most consumers are savvy enough to recognize that. Don’t stress about the one-off rant from someone you couldn’t help, never worked with, or don’t even know. If you’re at 4.5 stars or better you’ve got nothing to worry about.