All of your marketing efforts are finally taking shape. Your TV ads are going live next Monday, blanketing your carefully crafted message across hundreds of thousands of television sets throughout your market area. Your Web partner has finally achieved dominant search engine and Adwords visibility for your firm’s website and the traffic and inquiries are rolling in. You have several print ads being mailed out to your entire current and former client base each month and you are considering complementing all of this with a new mobile app, set to release next month! Everything is going brilliantly, just as planned…
…And then… Your phone begins to ring. And ring. And ring… Don’t let your intake process damage your business’ bottom line.
Countless aggressive law firms today are investing thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars on advertising each year without considering the best strategy to handle the inquiries that are driven from all of those marketing efforts.
We and two law firms were quite surprised when “ghost callers” called excellent law firms and recorded the intake process. Callers were shuffled between personnel, important questions were not asked and follow-up procedures were not employed. Both firms revamped their intake departments following these ghost calls.
The intake process is arguably the most important component in signing new business for your law firm. Having the right marketing strategy for your business is key. Being able to convert callers into clients is imperative. It all begins with hiring the right intake staff.
Hiring the Right Intake Professionals Do not let busy paralegals or overworked lawyers handle your intake process. Doing this will lead to lost opportunities since they are not measured on intakes, but on their primary job performance. Assign an individual or individuals and make sure they realize that this is their priority. First impressions are everything. When hiring new intake staff, focus heavily on the first impression they leave. Were they professional, attentive and responsive? Did they display strong verbal communication skills, or did you have to ask them to repeat anything? Honesty, sincerity, friendliness, confidence, compassion and empathy are all important. Did they convey those traits?
While those questions really only scratch the surface with regard to what makes a great greeter and team member, they do help to identify whether the applicant has the most important qualities that will make a great intake professional for your law firm. Finding and retaining quality intake staff will help propel your business and dramatically increase your chances of securing great clients and cases.
It is often said that people buy and make decisions based on feelings. Choosing a lawyer to handle one’s needs may be the biggest decision a person makes in their life. When finding the right lawyer to represent them, they want to feel a connection. This is only accomplished by having the right intake professionals who will make your prospective clients feel heard and cared for. Find and invest in high quality intake professionals and they will undoubtedly bring in more business for you.
Making Sure Your Phone System Is Set Up To Greet People, Not Computers A friend recently told me that he called a law firm from his cell phone. An automated voice greeted him and asked him to either choose an extension or spell the desired individual’s last and first name. He was not given an option to transfer through to an operator. He tried spelling the name from his cell phone and the automated voice told him to try again. He tried again, got the same error message and did not try again.
If, for a particular reason, you have to use an automated greeting, ensure it is offering a pleasurable experience for your callers. Timeliness is critical. Callers will lose patience much more quickly with an automated greeting versus a human operator.
Developing an Intake Process Once you have secured a strong individual or team of intake professionals, you are well on your way to maximizing your marketing dollars. One of the most important components for your intake process is having a system in place to ensure consistency. You should require your intake staff to have a set of all applicable questions answered before ending a conversation with a prospect, and ensure all information is entered into your contact management system (CMS). Having this information available for review allows for an efficient use of your attorneys’ time and will lead to a higher close ratio, generating more revenue for your firm.
The chances of your prospective client talking only with your firm are slim. Therefore, you want to make the best first impression through a professional intake system and timely follow ups. If the prospective client submits a contact form from your website or contacts your firm through live chat, ensure that you contact that prospect immediately. Often, the law firm that reaches out first and establishes a relationship will sign the client.
Additionally, it helps to have your intake professionals ask questions about the caller that are not necessarily directly tied to the potential case. Be sure to find out how they learned about you and what they are looking for in a law firm. Asking more personal questions such as their family, hobbies or vacations planned this summer will help your attorneys separate themselves from competition when they return the call and introduce themselves. It is up to your intake staff to gather this information and help set you apart from your competition, leading to more signed business.
Some of our law firm clients record the calls and review them periodically. This is a marvelous way to measure your intake department’s effectiveness. Be sure to inform the caller that the phone call may be recorded for quality purposes.
Spending Time & Money on Your Intake Process There are endless advantages to having a strong intake process. Too many firms focus on driving phone calls, and not enough on having the right people in place to turn those inquiries into cases. When you neglect your intake process, you negatively impact your firm’s ability to capitalize on quality cases.
It doesn’t make sense to invest heavily in driving leads to your firm if you are not set up to properly handle them. Reputation is extremely important in the legal profession. You want to strive to offer the best experience possible to everyone who contacts your firm. Even if you don’t retain the prospect this time, if you leave a great first impression with them, they will likely be back or refer future business to you.
Be willing to invest in quality intake professionals. Spend the necessary time training them, allowing them to learn your firm’s culture. Continuously refine your intake process by requesting feedback and making adjustments accordingly. Endeavor to create the best experience a new prospect can have and you will surely see an improvement in new signed cases for your firm. Tanner Jones