Summer is going strong, and for many Americans, it’s time to relax. The sun is shining, the kids are out of school and court systems slow into a summer schedule as everyone takes some well-earned time off. Hopefully, you’re reading this before heading off to vacation yourself!
But legal issues don’t take time off, and clients don’t ever stop calling. If you want to take a vacation without missing out on that business, you’re going to need to prepare.
In this blog, we’ll be covering just how to do that. Below, we’ll be presenting three steps to prepare to take a vacation without missing out on the new clients that call while you’re away. By the end of this blog, we hope to send you on your way to a calmer, more relaxing vacation that won’t affect your firm’s work.
Step 1: Stop Relying on Voicemail
The most we can say for voicemail is that at least your clients will know you’re not just ignoring them; you’re ignoring them because you’re on vacation. There will be some clients who understand that.
Studies show that voicemail is still an acceptable method of communication for older members of the population; younger people prefer to just send a text message instead. But that’s just for personal voicemail.
In terms of business voicemail, the established wisdom for the last decade has been that 80 percent of callers won’t even bother to leave a voicemail.
That means clients who will understand that you’re on vacation and willing to wait for you to come back based on a voicemail message will be few and far between. Legal issues present problems people cannot solve on their own. They’ll be anxious and in a hurry to make progress, which are not typically understanding moods.
Voicemail can’t really help you here because it can’t secure leads. In fact, it probably does the opposite; a message that says “I’m on vacation, call back in two weeks” will just get most new leads to call your competition instead.
At the end of the day, you’re still missing out on business with just voicemail. Callers will dial another attorney if they’re really in need. You’ll come back to a mountain of out-of-date messages to sort through, and will have to comb through them for any leads that might not have found other representation yet. It’s not a real solution—it’s a bandaid, and not a particularly effective one at that.
Step 2: Invest In Additional Phone Answering Help
Once, not too long ago, it was unheard of to call a law firm expecting an answer at, say, two o’clock in the morning on a Wednesday. Attorneys are professionals; once upon a time you worked regular, if long, hours!
That’s not true anymore. Changes to the economy and technology has made life conform less and less to a traditional nine-to-five. And as legal life has become more and more digital, hiring remote parties to handle parts of a law firm’s work has become a viable solution. Many of the same benefits you might get by, say, hiring more staff, can be achieved much less expensively if you’re willing to outsource some work.
Of course, by “outsourcing” we don’t necessarily mean hiring an overseas company to handle your business. Everyone has had a difficult customer service experience with a huge company that outsources their calls overseas; despite U.S. calls making up a vast majority of call volume, American call centers account for 29.5 percent of the global industry!
Rather, by “outsourcing”, we mean the original definition: hiring a third party to handle parts of your business, usually for much less of an investment than hiring staff. Hiring third parties to handle your communications can get you everything from quality legal intake to a week full of appointments when you get back. Those same results would cost much, much more to get from full-time staff.
To illustrate the effectiveness of outsourcing, we’ll use the example of a law firm call center.
What Is A Law Firm Call Center?
A law firm call center is a specialized answering service that handles calls for lawyers. Nowadays, these call centers may not even be physical offices; in the post-COVID-19 world, many virtual receptionists work from the comfort of their homes.
When an attorney hires a law firm call center, a team of virtual receptionists will be available to answer the phone 24/7 to make sure they don’t miss any important calls. As we mentioned above, people prefer speaking to other people rather than leaving voicemail.
Often, just having a friendly, professional virtual receptionist available to let prospective clients know the attorney they’re calling is out of the office and will reach them as soon as possible is enough to inspire some patience while they’re away. If it isn’t, however, good law firm call centers are able to perform legal intakes to make sure clients stick around until vacation is over.
Of course, third party help can’t do everything for you. A law firm call center is a powerful and flexible tool, but virtual receptionists can’t sign representation agreements for you! Therefore, you’ll have to figure out for yourself how you want to handle new business while you’re on vacation. Next, we’ll talk about doing just that.
Step 3: Set Up A Process For Handling Calls While You’re Away
There are three kinds of vacations: the ones where you never check up on work, the ones where you check up on work once or twice, and the ones where you’re checking on work all the time. Does the latter kind even count? That’s a question only you can answer.
For most businesses, being able to take a few weeks off and never check up on work is a sign that your business is operating independently and healthily, according to Entrepreneur.com. However, for small law firms and solo practitioners, that metric isn’t exactly correct. If you’re the only person who can sign representation agreements, how can you take a few weeks off completely incommunicado?
Depending on which kind of vacation you’re taking, and where you’re going to be, you can set up vastly different processes for handling calls while you’re away from the office. Of course, if you’re confident you can just turn your phone off and never worry about the firm, be our guest. If not, we have some suggestions below.
Heading upstate, and don’t mind taking a call every once in a while to secure new clients? You can have new client calls transferred directly to your personal number, where you can assure them that as soon as you’re back at the office you’ll be calling them to get started on their legal issue.
Are you going to be out in the country, or abroad, where you won’t necessarily have cell service or may even be in a different time zone altogether? See if you can devote some time every day to check your messages and call prospective clients back, letting them know you’re on vacation but will be on top of their issue as soon as possible. Either way, personally letting clients know you’re paying attention to them even on your time off will go a long way toward making sure they stick with the firm.
Answering Legal’s Law Firm Call Center Can Help
If you’re looking for a law firm call center that can make sure your vacations are restful and profitable, look no further than Answering Legal. Our virtual receptionists are both 100 percent US-based and bilingual, so there will never be a language barrier between your clients and your firm.
In addition, our receptionists train for months before they ever answer a call, and they only answer for law firms. We can afford to give them in-depth training in legal intake, meaning our virtual receptionists will double as your legal intake specialists. Click here if you’d like to learn more about our legal intake process.
We’ll take every call that comes in while you’re away. If you’re willing to take calls on your vacation, we can transfer them directly to you. If not, after every call, you’ll get a message containing all the information you might need, so if you want to keep up with your firm from afar, you can. To learn more about our message taking service, click here.
We can even send that straight information straight to your CRM so you’ll have a bevy of new clients to sort through and contact when you return, or make appointments on your calendar so clients will be happy to wait. Whatever you need, whether you’re on vacation or hard at work, Answering Legal can provide to make sure you never miss a new client.
Take some time off without stressing about your business. 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 for our service their first 400 minutes free.