How to Gather Great Client Testimonials

By October 13, 2020law, Marketing

For most people, hiring a lawyer is a daunting proposition. For some it’s intimidating. Few people treat the decision lightly.

Most folks aren’t just going to hit your website and dial your number. That makes sense, right?

And the more discriminating the person, the less likely they are to make snap decisions.

So you have to factor this into your marketing. Unless you want only impulsive people to hire you (hint: you don’t because they tend to be the less desirable type of clients).

So discriminating people have a quality…which let’s call “resistance.” They have questions, concerns, maybe even outright fears, about hiring a lawyer.

Maybe they have a perception that lawyers are mostly mercenaries: Hired guns who will work for any side as long as they get paid. Speaking of payment…

Pretty much every client wonders: how much will it cost me to hire a lawyer? And how much value will I get from the money I spend? Will the lawyer work hard, and get problems solved quickly?

If your prospective client views you as merely a mercenary, then they’re going to focus more on how much you charge, and less on your lawyerly skills (or your sterling reputation).

All of these feelings which we call “resistance” are present in virtually every potential client. And if your marketing strategy doesn’t address those feelings you’ll do a poor job of getting the better class of clients to pick up the phone and call you.

A sound marketing strategy will employ a proven tactic that efficiently overcomes the natural resistance that people have to hire a lawyer.

The best tactic which is proven to overcome natural resistance is: using great testimonials from former clients.

A great testimonial does two things

An effective testimonial will (1) help overcome resistance, and (2) provide glowing endorsements from past clients.

Most lawyers don’t use testimonials. But the ones that do, mostly focus on element #2 above.

The best testimonials not only explain why you’re a great lawyer; they also help overcome resistance and hesitations. Testimonials that address those concerns are the most powerful kind.

But gathering powerful testimonials requires a well-executed process. Fortunately, the process can be automated (hard to believe but true).

The well-executed process will address two top concerns of potential clients.

The two top concerns your clients will have

In general, potential clients want to know two things about you.

First, do you “know your stuff?” If you’ve practiced law for many years, and if your practice is highly focused in the area of law that the client has a problem in, then you’re likely to be perceived as an “authority.”

If you are a newly minted lawyer without a practice specialty, you’ll have a harder time establishing your authority.

But, here’s the good news. Many people are less concerned about “authority” than most lawyers realize.

What makes most people resist hiring a lawyer is concern about their “empathy.”

There’s an old saying that people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. And psychological studies prove that saying is absolutely true.

So you need to establish that you care about your clients, and are motivated to help them for reasons other than financial profit. This is hard to do if you are the one trying to persuade them.

But if you use testimonials in a way that helps establish you are empathetic, then your phone will ring a lot more often. And the people who will be calling will be better clients.

So to sum up: the best testimonials not only explain why you’re a great lawyer; they also help overcome resistance and hesitations.

But gathering those powerful testimonials requires a well-executed process. Fortunately, the process can be automated (hard to believe, but true).

The best TIME to collect testimonials

The best time to collect a testimonial is when the client is most happy about your representation. As in, right after a favorable settlement or verdict.

At that point, the client is more likely to give you a testimonial, and definitely more likely to say glowing things about you.

But every day that passes after the pivotal moment exponentially decreases the likelihood that you’ll get a good testimonial.

And you are shooting for a great testimonial, not just a good one, right?

Therefore you will start the process of collecting testimonials when the client is most happy. And this is pretty easy to figure out. Now let’s turn to the tricky part.

The best WAY to collect great testimonials

Here’s a stark reality. Asking for a testimonial can be awkward, for you and your client. But not if you go about it the right way.

You have to do it in a way that’s low-key and natural. We’ll talk about how to do that. But first, let’s talk about how NOT to do it.

The worst thing you can do is ask the client in person. The second worst thing you can do is have someone in your office ask them.

This is almost always going to be awkward for the client and will result in testimonials that are not as powerful.

But you have to ask for the testimonial at some point.

So how do you do it most effectively?

The 3-Step (Easy Way) to Get Testimonials, and Feedback

Here are the three steps for getting great testimonials. If you set this up right, most of the process is automated.

1. At the optimal moment ask for “Feedback”

First of all, never refer to it as a “testimonial” when you’re talking with your client. Call it “feedback.” Because that’s what you’re going to be collecting (along with a testimonial, if they choose to give you one).

Because that’s what you’re going to be collecting (along with a testimonial, if they choose to give you one).

People love to give feedback. And you need feedback to help you better understand your clients’ perception of how well you served them, right?

So that’s what you’re going to ask for.

After the favorable verdict or resolution mention to the client that you’d like to send an email to collect some helpful feedback. Say something like this: “

Say something like this: “If you don’t mind, I’d like to gather some feedback from you on how we handled your case.”

They’ll say “sure, I don’t mind.” And then you say “great, I’ll send you an email with a link to a short survey.”

2. Send an email with the survey link

When you get back to the office you can them send a pre-written email. You’ll edit the email slightly to put in some specifics related to their case if you need to.

In most cases, the only thing you’ll need to edit is the salutation so the email looks personal.

Making the email low-key and personalized will increase the response rate, and lead to better feedback. And get you more great testimonials.

The email will have a link that when clicked takes the person to an online survey service like SurveyMonkey ($$) or Google Forms (free)

I recommend SurveyMonkey because it’s more powerful and easier to set up the key survey questions.

And yes SurveyMonkey costs money, but if you’re serious about gathering feedback (along with testimonials) it’s totally worth it.

You could also just email the survey questions, but that’s the least effective way.

Okay, let’s talk about the questions you should ask.

3. Ask these 6 questions (plus an optional one)

You’re going to ask just a few questions. But they have to be in a very specific order.

First, you’re going to ask for feedback that’s easy to give.

The best and easiest feedback to give is something called the “Net Promoter Score.”

(If you want a detailed explanation of the NPS process click here). Below is a short explanation…

The NPS question asks the respondent to rate from 0 to 10 “How likely are you to recommend my law firm to a friend or colleague?

This question is super easy to answer because the respondent only has to pick a number, which most people can do easily.

In SurveyMonkey, you create the “NetPromoter Score” question very easily. But you want to set it up effectively. And here’s how…

The NPS question should appear on the survey all by itself. That is, this question will be on a separate page from the succeeding questions.

Once the respondent picks their rating, the survey will advance to the next page.

Next, you’ll ask something like this:

  • What were your overall impressions of the service you received from my law firm?

This is an open question that lets them say anything that pops into their head. This question should also appear on a page by itself. SurveyMonkey allows you to make this a required question, so they have to answer it or they can’t continue. I recommend making leaving it optional.

The next three questions are important because they probe at the “resistance” that we talked about earlier.

Here are the questions you should ask:

  • What concerns or hesitations did you have about hiring me as a lawyer? (Before you decided to call me for the first time)
  • How did working with me relieve those concerns?
  • What two or three things impressed you about my work, or the work done by my staff?

Those questions all appear on one page, and they should be optional. When the respondent clicks “next page” the following question should appear:

  • Is it okay if we share your comments publicly? (to give other potential clients a sense of what you thought about working with us)”

They will have two options to click: Yes, and No.

If they click “no” then the survey ends and they don’t go to the last question.

The last question is on a new page, and it asks:

  • How would you like your name to appear if we use your comments? (e.g. “Ernie Svenson”)

This is low-key in that it suggests (correctly) that you are not committing to using their comments publicly. Again most people want their feedback to matter, so most will opt to provide their name at this point.

The parenthetical (e.g. “Ernie Svenson”) is to demonstrate what you mean by “how would you like your name to appear.” If you don’t demonstrate some people will be momentarily confused.

Where to use testimonials you collect

Obviously, it will take some time to collect a good number of great testimonials. But remember you’re also collecting feedback from each and every client.

You’ve set up a system that’s largely automated (if you use an online survey tool like SurveyMonkey or Google Forms). So the collection process is easy and simple.

Over time you’ll get enough to use in your marketing efforts. Obviously, the first place you’re going to use them is on your website.

The rule of thumb is: don’t use any testimonials until you’ve got three decent ones.

Use testimonials throughout your website. Use them on your Home page, on your Bio page, and on your Contact page.

Basically, use them anywhere prospective clients might be weighing the decision of whether or not to hire you.

If you have a system for collecting email addresses from prospective clients (and you should), then you should use the testimonials in at least one of the emails that automatically go out.

The subject of email autoresponders is an entirely different subject, so let’s just wrap up now and leave that for another day.

Key Takeaways

You absolutely must collect testimonials (and feedback). You now know how to do it in a manner that’s natural and not awkward for the client.

If you aren’t ready to use SurveyMonkey or Google Forms you can send the request in an email, but the client will see all of the questions and that will diminish the effectiveness. Still, it’s better than not collecting testimonials at all.

Just so you can see the recommended questions all grouped together, here they are again.

  1. How likely are you to recommend my law firm to a friend or colleague?
  2. What were your overall impressions of the service you received from my law firm?
  3. What concerns or hesitations did you have about hiring me as a lawyer? (Before you decided to call me for the first time)
  4. How did working with me relieve those concerns?
  5. What two or three things impressed you about my work, or the work done by my staff?
  6. Is it okay if we share your comments publicly? (to give other potential clients a sense of what you thought about working with us)
  7. (Optional) How would you like your name to appear if we use your comments? (e.g. “John Doe”)

See The Sample Survey in Action

If you want to take a sample survey with those 7 questions, click this link.


P.S. If you’re tired of chasing “shiny objects,” (and are ready to make some key changes so your practice becomes much easier to manage), download my Solo & Small Firm Lawyers’ Guide to Working Smarter. It’s definitely not for everyone, but if you’re willing to be thoughtful and patient as you work on your practice, it might be right for you.

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