I know what you’re thinking. Attorneys are the most valuable contributors. After all, it’s not a law firm without an attorney to provide legal advice, work on cases, and attend court. While these are income generating activities, I’d like to challenge your thinking on the MOST important role to get right at your firm. Without this VIP, you would not have client matters to work on.
YOUR SECRET VIP
The most important person in your firm is the one handling your customer service, typically, your receptionist/intake specialist. They are patient, warm, professional, and knowledgeable about your firm and practice areas. Potential clients are calling right down the list and want to connect and feel heard, so the first step is getting the right staff.
POOR SERVICE BLUES
I was recently referred by a reputable firm to a real estate attorney. My call went straight to voicemail where he explained he can’t afford to have someone just sitting around answering his phone all day, so he no longer answers at all and requested an email or text. You’ve probably guessed that I did not move forward with hiring him. Sadly, poor, or worse, no, service at all is not an uncommon practice with small firms. Great service is very doable for all firm sizes!
PROCESS MAKES PERFECT
If your receptionist doesn’t have a documented process they should repeat consistently, it’s time to get one in place. All it takes is an hour of time and a little brain power.
START WITH THE FEELS
How do you want clients to feel when they interact with your firm? Elizabeth, is a fun spirited estate planning attorney who makes TikTok videos and aims to entertain. She creates a personal connection and puts her humanness on full display. Her call flow and intake process syncs with who she is.
After conducting thousands of intakes, I can tell you the number one factor in converting a shopper into a client is your intake person’s ability to give your potential the warm and fuzzies. Dale Carnegie nailed it when he said, “You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can by trying to get other people interested in you.” I’d take this a step further and say we can do more to foster a relationship with a prospect in two minutes by becoming interested in them than spending 20 conducting a dull, impersonal intake. Start the relationship building by adding a couple of open-ended questions. Showing interest in why the prospect needs help, expressing genuine warmth, and then offering a path to help is the key to winning new clients.
Before you wrap up that initial intake, make sure to set expectations. Mark, a bankruptcy attorney has his intake specialist recap that the initial meeting will occur on this date, at this time and will take place over phone/video and the client will need to have X documents together before the meeting.
PLAN FOR UNEXPECTED INTERRUPTIONS
What do you want to happen when callers are looking for you, or another member of your staff? Peter, a personal injury attorney gets calls from insurance adjustors all day long asking for him. His customer service team knows that even though he’s being asked for, these calls should go to a paralegal and get them routed appropriately. He only wants to be interrupted for scheduled appointments. This gives him freedom to focus on tackling what’s most important to him.
WHAT GETS MEASURED GETS DONE
Once you have a process, you need to ensure it’s being followed to your standards. I have my team audited a minimum of six times each month to ensure adherence to the firm’s standards for each call. Place a test call or two and provide your team feedback and coaching to improve the process.