Law schools are notorious for not teaching lawyers as many business skills as they should. Subjects like sales, marketing, and management should be a part of the law school curriculum, amongst civil procedure, legal writing, and everything else a 1L might be studying.
Luckily for lawyers, there’s a bevy of resources to answer lawyer’s questions about the things they didn’t learn in law school. Questions like: how do I up my lead capture rate? How can I tell if my legal intake is working? Where do I start when I want to improve my legal intake?
In this blog, we’ll look to answer those questions and more. Below, we’ll talk about the three steps to making sure your legal intake process is as strong as it can be.
Step One: Gather Data on Your Legal Intake
Whoever said knowing is half the battle wasn’t talking about legal intake, but if they were, they’d have been correct. Gathering information about your legal intake is the first step toward making sure it’s working for you.
If you’re a solo or part of a small firm, a lot of what follows in this section will sound like a lot of work. Rest assured, the tips we’ll be giving below are the same things your competitors are doing, especially larger firms with bigger marketing budgets or even in-house marketing staff. Once you see the difference it makes in your lead capturing, you’ll be more than happy to take on the extra work. Below, we’ll provide some tips to help you on your way.
Tools And Tips To Help You Gather Data
In order to get the information you need, your intake needs to be one hundred percent digital. The days of paper messages are long over. Digital intake is easier for your receptionist, and makes sorting and gathering information about your lead capturing and your clients incredibly easy. As your receptionist speaks to new leads, they should be taking notes and filling out a webform.
When the call is complete, they should send that webform to you, so that you can have the information contained within when you make your follow-up call. You can very easily find any number of webform tools available online, but you probably won’t need anything more complex than a simple Google Form. Your CRM might have a tool like this available, or you can build a form that will automatically send information to your CRM as your receptionist fills it out.
The next step is recording your phone calls, with consent, of course, depending on your local recording laws. Like webforms, there are a number of tools available for businesses to record their phone calls. Once you have the software you like, you should be able to bring up a recording of any of your calls when you have the time. Make sure you’re recording both your incoming calls to new leads and your outgoing calls, for reasons we’ll discuss later.
Finally, you should invest in some marketing tools. WhatConverts, CallRail, and CallTrackingMetrics are all examples of marketing programs that will allow you to track your calls and get a big-picture view of your lead capturing process, but there are plenty of others as well. Combine any of those with simple “Where did you hear about us?” questions in your intake and you will have a great deal of information about how your lead to client pipeline works.
While all of this sounds like a lot of work, it’s proven essential to a law firm’s success. Clio’s 2021 Legal Trends Report showed that growing firms are twice as likely to be using business analytical tools than shrinking firms. In other words, these tools clearly give firms the edge they need to grow their business.
Step Two: Reviewing Your Legal Intake Process
Now that you have all that data, you can use it to analyze your legal intake process. The first thing you need to do is identify the leads that didn’t turn into clients. While there’s plenty to learn from a success story, failure is where the true lessons lie.
When you successfully secure a lead, it can be tough to tell where things went right. It could have been an accumulation of small details that led to a prospective client deciding to stick around. In addition, even if you can tell exactly what made a lead stick with you, it’s hard to do more of something you’re already doing right. Too much of a good thing can be a bad thing, after all.
On the other hand, failing to secure a lead can teach you a lot. Many times it is just one thing that turns a lead away from your firm. It’s much easier to stop doing something that isn’t helpful than to do more of something that works. That’s why it’s so important to focus on learning from mistakes and celebrating successes. Below, we’ll talk about how to do just that.
What To Look For When You’re Reviewing
Using your digital intake records, you can identify leads that didn’t pan out by comparing them to your client list. Once you do, you can listen to those phone calls to find out where the falloff happened. Does your intake ask too many questions? Does it ask the wrong questions?
Of course, there’s always the chance that it wasn’t the intake itself, but your follow up. Try to keep track of when you called a lead, and compare it to when they called in. Record these calls too; you never know when it was something you said, and not your receptionist, that turned a lead away.
Did you repeat questions your receptionist asked? Did you take too long to get back to new leads? Clio’s 2019 Legal Trends Report found that 79 percent of clients expect a call back in 24 hours or less. This is a good time to examine your workflow and think about ways you could improve your followup time.
Obviously, you have a lot on your plate. This isn’t a process you can engage in constantly. Instead, you should try to schedule these lead capturing check-ins; the more frequently, the better. We recommend doing quarterly check-ins.
Try to find time once a quarter to review those phone calls that didn’t secure a client and try to figure out where they slipped through the cracks. You’re doing all this work to gather the data; reviewing it is the only way to make good use of it and improve your legal intake process.
Step 3: Training Your Staff To Enhance Your Intake
Finally, you have to review your findings with your staff so they know where to focus their efforts. In most law firms, it’s mostly the staff that deals with legal intake, especially the receptionists. All your work will be wasted if you don’t impart the knowledge you’ve gained from your review with them.
You should, of course, make sure your receptionist is always in the loop. Making sure your receptionist is always up-to-date on what you’re doing to gather data and the changes you want to make based on that data will ensure that you’re getting the most out of your efforts.
Being a law firm receptionist is a constant learning process, and this is no different. Meetings with your staff should be scheduled on a regular basis, just like your reviews. Think of it like quarterly training sessions, for everyone involved, on how to make your firm run more smoothly and secure more leads.
We’ve trained hundreds of receptionists, so we’ll share our number one tip: make sure to emphasize flexibility and improvisation. Legal intake should never feel like a lead is filling out a form, even if that’s exactly what they’re doing. People looking for legal help are usually facing a problem they can’t solve themselves, and they want to feel like they’re making progress.
Usually, they want that feeling from an attorney, but attorneys are incredibly busy people, so your receptionist has to be the intermediary. Make sure your new leads are feeling heard, and not like they’re a part of a process, and they’ll feel like they’ve already started hiring your firm. That puts you well on your way to great legal intake. For more information about how to train your receptionist, click here.
Our Legal Intake Receptionists Are Constantly Improving
If you’re still not sure how to improve your legal intake, or if this sounds like too much work we have a suggestion: hire Answering Legal. Our virtual receptionists undergo months of training before ever picking up the phone for a law firm. In addition, they attend weekly and monthly training to get caught up on the latest changes for each of the law firms that use our service, as well as all of the new firms that signed up.
We’re committed to always providing the best legal intake, among our other services, which is why our receptionists are specialists; they only ever answer for law firms. They’re also available 24/7, and can deliver all of our services in Spanish, too.
Get instant access to stellar legal intake. Click here or call 631-686-9700 to sign up for our free trial. For a limited time, we’re offering attorneys who sign up with our service their first 400 minutes free.