In the grand scheme of things for those running law offices, message taking is understandably stashed under the label of small picture. Attorneys have much more significant things to worry about each day then the handling of their client messages. Because, of this law practices tend to be frequent offenders when it comes to making message taking mistakes.
While this may not seem like a huge deal, continuously committing message taking errors will eventually come back to haunt your firm. A lack of a proper message taking process can turn your law office into a land of chaos and disorganization, an environment in which you’ll struggle to win over clients in. Who would want to put their faith in a law office that can’t even handle taking a simple message?
In order to ensure that your message taking doesn’t cost you business, you’ll need to avoid making these five mistakes.
Failing To Ask The Right Questions
Have you ever sat down with the employees at your firm who answer client calls and gone over your practice’s message taking process? Does your firm even have an established plan for gathering and recording a new client’s information, or taking a message from an existing client? If you answered yes to both questions, then your firm is at least on the right track with its message taking. If not, we have a lot to go over.
In order for your firm to experience consistent success in capturing new leads, you’ll need to start by creating legal intake forms. These forms will be made up of a list of questions that your staff will use to gather personal and case information from first time callers to your firm. For advice on building a proper legal intake form, you’ll want to check out this blog post. Similar plans of action should be in place for helping your staff navigate calls from current clients.
Even if your receptionist is great at engaging with callers when on the phone, providing them with a legal intake form to follow can help keep their conversations with clients on track and guarantee you get all the information you need to access a possible new case. You won’t want to leave anything to chance when it comes to your customers.
Not Making Accuracy A Priority
A little inside info on the author of this blog post; I was a journalism major in college. And one thing that was always stressed to us in every class we took, was accuracy. Sharing wrong information is one of the quickest ways to lose someone’s trust, which is why accuracy is crucially important not just to journalists, but to all those hoping to be taken seriously as professionals.
Let’s say your receptionist half-heartedly takes down a prospective client’s message, and it’s riddled with little mistakes. You may think it’s the end of the world, but the information in that message is what you will be relying upon in your follow-up meeting with the client. If you come into that meeting trying to inspire confidence, but have a misspelt version of the client’s last name, a wrong home address, or incorrect case details, what kind of impression can you really hope to leave. At best you’ll come off as sloppy, and at worst uncaring or incompetent.
Any trained journalist will tell you that attention to detail is a must when taking notes while someone speaks, even if it means slowing down the process, and asking clients to repeat themselves or spell things out. So make sure you stress the importance of accuracy to whoever is answering the phones for your firm, as the job your receptionist does with a simple legal intake or message can help earn or cost you a client.
In theory, getting a message from a client, to you, the lawyer, should be simple. The client talks to your receptionist, your receptionist records the important details of their call either on paper or digitally, and the client’s message gets immediately sent over to you handle. But, does it really play out like that every time?
In a busy law office, there’s a lot that can go wrong with handling client messages. An overwhelmed receptionist can lose track of a message, a busy attorney can receive the message then forget about it, or a message can get lost in an overloaded email inbox. The end result of these types of mistakes are often disastrous, as poor message management can lead to the needs of current clients being neglected, and potential relationships with new clients being lost forever.
Unfortunately, there isn’t any magic solution for fixing these kind of issues. If the problems described above exist at your firm, the only thing you can do is make client message management a higher priority. Communication with staff will be a must to pull this off, and you may even want to invest in an office management software to help you stay more organized.
Leaving It To A Machine
Have you noticed that the number of messages in your office voicemail inbox is a little low these days? Or that when you try to call back a client who left you a message, you can never seem to get in touch with them. Well that’s largely due to the fact that a majority of today’s consumers hate engaging with voicemail. And it’s also because today’s consumer is looking for immediate solutions, and even if they do leave you a brief message, is probably immediately moving on to calling another law office for help.
In order to even have a chance at earning a client’s business these days during times in which you’re unavailable, you’ll need a live voice taking their message. A live person can take clients through that all-important legal intake process we mentioned earlier. An automated message can’t. A live person we make sure the right details are being gathered for a client’s message. An automated message can’t. A live person can make a human connection with a client, and give them reason not to go elsewhere for help. An automated mes… Well you get the point by now. You really can’t afford to let a single call go to voicemail.
Not Reaching Out For Additional Help
When a business has a problem that they are unable to solve in-house, they typically reach out for outside help. Well in the last section, we just identified a pretty big problem, and unless your receptionist staff is able to cover your phone lines 24/7/365, you can’t handle it on your own. We’ve also established that your message taking is nothing to take lightly and needs to be done correctly every time. So it’s probably time for your firm to reach out for some professional message taking help.
At Answering Legal, we have receptionists available to answer your firm’s calls at all hours. Our receptionists are more qualified to handle your legal calls than any other answering service worker, as they are all put through months of legal intake and message taking training before officially joining our roster of live receptionists. Answering Legal is unique in that we allow attorneys to customize their legal intake questions. We’ll also send them customer messages at the conclusion of every call we take on their behalf, via text and/or email.
We’re certainly not expecting any sort of commitment after reading just one blog post. But, if you are ready to shore up your firm’s message taking, and are interested in possibly doing a 10-day free trial run of our service, click here!