If you take a tour around our site, you’ll see that we’ve published a lot of content on legal intake. That’s because legal intake is more than just your information-gathering tool. For most of your clients, it’s their first impression of your firm. And, of course, it’s probably the most effective way to capture new leads.
As such, it’s one of the most important responsibilities our virtual receptionists handle for law firms. We here at Answering Legal have spent a lot of time thinking about legal intake, training people on how to perform the process, and reviewing the process with attorneys. As legal intake experts, we’re here to help attorneys whose intake might be struggling.
If you come away from one of our blogs with an idea on how to improve your firm, we consider that a win. That’s why below we’re going to go into detail on how our virtual receptionists handle legal intake. We’ll discuss everything from the greeting to how we prepare our receptionists to answer for all the law firms we serve, all to provide you with information that might improve your legal intake process.
Our Receptionists Make Your Leads Feel Immediately Welcome
Legal intake bears all the responsibilities listed above, but its primary function is lead capturing. You can’t work for a client who doesn’t hire you, after all. Clients who speak to a receptionist and go through a legal intake process are more likely to stick with your firm than those who reach your voicemail, considering that 80 percent of callers who reach voicemail don’t even leave a message for you to follow up on.
Why? Well, clients are primarily looking for one thing when they’re calling a law firm: someone to help solve their legal problems. That someone should be empathetic, professional, and most of all, able to help. The legal intake process convinces your clients that you are all three of those things.
How Our Team Makes Your Leads Feel At Home
Our virtual receptionists start by making the client feel welcome and comfortable. Using a custom greeting designed for each firm, they greet clients warmly, ready to hear about whatever legal issue drove them to call that firm.
Many of those legal issues can be the cause of great distress to your new leads, which can make some calls intense. That’s why we train our receptionists to always match the tone of the caller. The greeting is always bright and welcoming, but after that, our virtual receptionists practice empathy and attentive listening to provide the kind of client experience that makes new leads want to hire you.
For example, let’s say you’re a family lawyer. Your clients are usually dealing with everything from divorce to home ownership to custody determinations. During those trying times, your leads don’t want to speak to a bored or uninterested voice on the phone. At the same time, they probably don’t want to encounter the opposite. A more measured, professional tone would leave a much better impression on those new leads undergoing trying times.
It sounds like common sense, but you’d be surprised how many firms’ receptionists don’t answer the phone using these guidelines. Between our months-long training program and our 24/7 quality control staff, we make sure we’re always ready to meet your new leads where they are and provide them the quality experience that will make them stick with your firm.
How Our Virtual Receptionists Help Your Firm Establish Trust And Authority
In a hyper-competitive sector like the legal world, one of the questions you always have to be ready to answer is “Why should I hire you?” There are probably more than a few other firms who are capable of solving your new leads’ problem, after all. What makes you different from the rest?
These are questions you will be answering from the moment your new leads become aware of your firm until they’ve hired you, and sometimes even beyond that. Marketing is only the first step along that journey, and legal intake is the next.
As mentioned above, legal intake is your firm’s first impression. By having a receptionist available to answer your new leads 24/7, you’ll enhance your prospective clients’ view of your firm. Legal issues are often sensitive, and leads want to know they’re trusting the right person with them. Our virtual receptionists will help prove that your firm is worthy of your clients’ trust, and therefore, the right firm to hire to solve their problems.
In BrightLocal’s 2022 survey of local business consumers, they found that 76 percent of consumers consider online reviews important to their decision-making when it comes to legal services. By putting legal consumer’s minds at ease and making them feel like they’ve taken a step toward resolving their legal issues, our virtual receptionists provide positive experiences to callers, which in turn will help secure five star reviews for your firm.
Our Team Can Serve As An Extension Of Your Firm
You might think: if establishing authority and authenticity is so important, how do our receptionists do that for one firm if they answer for many different firms? The answer to that question is key to how we make sure callers always feel like they’re speaking to a representative of the firm they’re calling: custom, extensive intake scripts.
Of course, “script” is just a shorthand. Our virtual receptionists don’t robotically read from a screen when greeting your clients. In reality, there isn’t a script at all. Instead, our virtual receptionists use complex, unique to your firm workflows, protocols, and role-played guidelines, which our support and quality control teams help you to create and maintain.
The closest thing to scripts our virtual receptionists use when answering for law firms are the legal intake questionnaires. Even those, however, are best written conversationally. You don’t want an intense series of questions that make your new leads feel like they’ve been cornered. Instead, you need a few pointed questions that gather the information you need and guide your new leads on their journey toward solving their legal problems.
It’s not enough to just provide our receptionists the tools they need to answer for different law firms, either. We make sure they have the skills they need to do their job through a months-long training program. Using practice phone calls, tutorials, and roleplays, we prepare our virtual receptionists to answer for all kinds of practice areas, and give them the skills to improvise what their training didn’t cover. If you’d like to read more about our training process, you can click here for a closer look.
How Law Firms Can Customize Their Intake Scripts
All of that training, however, can only do so much. You know your firm better than anyone else. You probably have unique workflows, information preferences, and even branding. That’s why we help you come up with a custom script for your legal intake.
During the setup process for your free trial, we’ll work with you to come up with your legal intake questionnaire. You can use one of our hundreds of sample scripts, customize a sample, or come up with one all your own. If you’d like to know where to start, we’ve published a guide to scripting your legal intake here.
Of course, we know that the key to success is constant improvement. That’s why with a quick phone call, you can update any part of your profile, from the greeting to the intake questions. We hold regular training sessions for our virtual receptionists to go over updates among all the firms we answer for. That way, if you think of a way to make your legal intake even better, you can implement it hassle-free.
Every law firm, like every lawyer, is unique. With a custom script and our training regimen, your new leads will always feel like they’ve gotten in touch with your firm, and that they’re on their way to speaking to an attorney about their legal problem.
Legal Intake, Step-by-Step
So what does legal intake look like when performed by one of our virtual receptionists? Below, we’ll break it down into five steps:
- One of our team of virtual receptionists will answer the phone based on your custom call protocols.
- They greet the caller warmly and find out the reason for their call.
- If the caller is a prospective client, our virtual receptionist will then take your new lead through your firm’s unique legal intake process.
- Using a webform as a guide, our virtual receptionist will take copious notes and gather all the information you need.
- They will then let your new client know that you’ll get back to them as soon as possible and send you a message via text and/or email with a summary of the call and the answers to your legal intake questions.
As you can see, each step of the process involves your input during setup. Your call protocols determine when your calls are routed to our receptionists. You write the greeting they use to welcome the caller. As discussed above, you set up the workflows and guidelines our receptionists use during the legal intake process. Finally, our receptionists send the messages they take to your text, email, or both, depending on your preference.
This is how our virtual receptionists are able to serve as extensions of your firm so effectively: they answer the phone exactly the way you want them to. You’re always in control of your legal intake, and you can change how we answer for your firm at any time with a simple phone call.
We Make Follow Up Easy And Effective
As another part of our training process, we make sure our receptionists are experts at taking messages for law firms. Our virtual receptionists know what information you need from your new leads. They take detailed messages including the caller’s contact information, the reason for their call, and the contents of the legal intake form.
They then send the messages via text and/or email immediately, so you’re never waiting on a message to conduct a follow up. Digital messages make it easy for attorneys to follow up from anywhere. With just a glance at their phones, attorneys can make a quick follow up call whether they’re in the office, taking a break in court, or at a conference. Compare these follow up scenarios:
Scenario A: Voicemail
In our first scenario the caller leaves a voicemail after hours. Be honest with yourself: how long does it take you to respond to voicemails from new clients? An ABA study found that 42 percent of the time, it took law firms over three days to respond to a voicemail.
Let’s be generous and assume you’re quicker than that; you go through all your voicemails every morning. If your new lead called you at seven p.m., that’s a turnaround time of just over twelve hours. Certainly better than three days! But in that time, your prospective client could have called any number of other firms that might be more responsive, potentially costing you that lead.
Scenario B: Virtual Receptionist
In scenario B, let’s assume the same caller is calling at the same time. Your potential client’s call is routed automatically to a virtual receptionist when they call your firm after you leave your office. Our virtual receptionist takes down their contact information, guides them through the legal intake process, and assures your new lead you’ll get back to them as soon as possible. They then compile all that information into a message.
You receive that message as soon as the call is over, and you can choose whether to respond immediately or leave it till the morning. A few hours later, say, after dinner, you find a moment for a quick follow-up call, and have everything you need to know about that clients’ needs right in front of you. Because a virtual receptionist answered that call, you’re able to speak with that client that night and have the opportunity to secure their business.
Why Response Time Matters
As a legal expert, it might seem hasty not to wait for the right legal representation. If a client thinks they’ve found the right attorney, why not wait a few days for their response?
Unfortunately, legal consumers just don’t feel that way. In 2019, Clio found that seventy-nine percent of clients expect a response from attorneys within twenty-four hours of their initial call. Given the many ways the legal world has changed since 2019, it’s not hard to imagine that percentage has gotten even higher.
Having a virtual receptionist personally assure your leads that their concerns will be addressed right away can extend that twenty-four hour timeframe. Speaking to a live person who tells them that they’re on their way to legal help is a psychological balm to a distressed prospective client. When a calm, professional voice has assured them that you’ll get back to them as soon as possible, they’re much more likely to take a breath and wait for your follow up. And when you’re meeting or exceeding your clients’ expectations, you’ll find yourself receiving positive reviews and even more converted clients for your firm.
This message-taking service will provide your clients with a better experience throughout their journey with your firm. Once they’ve hired you, they can leave messages with our virtual receptionists that you will receive immediately. Often, existing client concerns can be handled with just a quick text message, or by emailing a form. Our receptionists will make that process easy for you, allowing you to ease some of the nerves your clients may experience during their time with you.
Why Choose Our Legal Intake Team?
We here at Answering Legal have years of experience training receptionists to answer for all kinds of attorneys, and we hope we’ve demonstrated that expertise here in this blog. If you’re looking to skip straight to the best legal intake in the business, Answering Legal has you covered.
Here’s what sets us apart from other answering services for attorneys: our virtual receptionists only answer for lawyers. If you take a tour around other answering service sites, you might find that they answer for other professions and industries, anything from dentists to electricians.
Our virtual receptionists are specialists, not generalists. We can afford to train them for months to answer for attorneys because they will only ever answer for attorneys. That means they’re ready to capture leads in the unique ways law firms need.
If you’d like to read more about what our receptionists can do for your firm, we invite you to check out our blog, where you can read about everything from how our receptionists can help you boost your billable hours to why you need to be ready to capture any Spanish-speaking leads who call in to your firm.
Unlock the key to expert legal intake instantly. Click here or call 631-686-9700 to sign up for our free trial. For a limited time, we’re offering firms that sign up with our service their first 400 minutes free.