What does it mean to be a professional law firm? Having attorneys who operate with a certain appearance, etiquette, and demeanor is of course part of the equation, but what most defines law offices as professional or unprofessional is the way they handle clients.
In a recent post from her ABA For Law Students advice column, nationally recognized attorney and lawyer career coach Shauna Bryce provided a spot-on definition of what law offices should take being a professional to mean.
At its best, professionalism is an overarching philosophy focused on delivering outstanding service and helping clients achieve their goals.” -Shauna Bryce
In order to ensure your law office always comes across in the most professional light, you need professional employees representing your business at all times. Even if you have a trustworthy in-house staff, you will need additional coverage for those times your employees are unable to get to the phone. In order to guarantee your firm always leaves the best possible impression on its customers, and effectively helps clients achieve their legal goals, we recommend turning to a legal answering service. When partnering with a legal answering service, you are given the resource of a team of highly trained legal receptionists to help your firm capture more clients, and better accommodate its existing ones.
Later on in Bryce’s column, she goes on to state what exactly it means to be a law professional.
Here are the three things Bryce said that really stood out to us:
- A professional is good at “understanding the Big Picture as well as the details”
- “A professional anticipates problems and needs and then devises solutions”
- “A professional isn’t satisfied with second-rate work and half-efforts”
So how can a legal answering service help firms meet Bryce’s standards of professionalism? Let’s break down the three above statements further.
A Professional Is Good At “Understanding The Big Picture As Well As The Details
Attorneys can’t afford to think too small when running a law firm. If they do, they can risk losing out on opportunities for new business. If law offices find themselves missing out on too many clients, they need to be able to look at the bigger picture as to why that is.
The issue may not be as simple as:
“Why aren’t people engaging with my business?”
The real question attorneys may need to ask themselves is:
“Does my firm make itself available to reach as many customers as possible?”
For many law offices, potential clients are lost, because they neglect to provide a live voice for people to talk with after hours. By utilizing a legal answering service that provides a 24/7 receptionist team, law offices can indicate to late night callers that they are willing to go the extra mile to solve their issues.
Law offices may also find themselves missing out on new clients during the work day, because their phone lines are too clogged with calls from existing customers. Attorneys can make sure their phone lines are always open and able to properly accommodate first-time callers, by having an answering service that can help filter their call flow, and only transfer them in on calls from new customers.
The small details of course matter a great deal for law offices too, and a legal answering service can go a long way in making sure those details are always accounted for. One example of this is appointment scheduling services. Premium legal answering services can schedule appointments with new customers on your behalf, while seamlessly integrating with your office calendar. Having this system in place will keep appointments from falling through the cracks, and help keep your customers satisfied.
A Professional Anticipates Problems And Needs and Then Devises Solutions
Preparation is perhaps what most defines a professional law firm. You can never know when an issue will present itself to your office, but putting yourself in position to handle problems, can be crucially important when it comes to winning over as many clients as possible. A legal answering service is the best preparation tool in existence today, as it provides a team of experienced receptionists, ready to tackle any call handling issues your office may experience.
Here are just a few examples of problems an answering service can help solve:
Problem:What if your office becomes too busy to answer the calls of new clients at a given time?
Solution:Your legal answering service will always be there as a safety net. After a specific amount of rings, the call will be picked up by the helpful live voice of a legal receptionist.
Problem:What if your receptionist tries to transfer you into a call, but you are unable to get to the phone?
Solution:During times when you are unavailable, there is no need to worry about losing a client. Your receptionist will take an accurate and detailed message from them.
Problem:When a customer who only speaks Spanish calls in, what can be done to make sure they are given proper legal help?
Solution:Many of the best legal answering services today will offer bilingual phone answering. If you get a call from a Spanish speaker, you can just transfer it over to your answering service, and have a bilingual receptionist handle the call on your behalf.
With the support of a quality legal answering service, there won’t be much that leaves your firm rattled. Your law office will be equipped to deal with just about any call handling scenario.
A Professional Isn’t Satisfied With Second-Rate Work And Half-Efforts
Your clients will notice effort more than you think they do, and will not have much patience for a law office that is just doing enough to get a paycheck. As Bryce noted earlier, being a law professional is largely about delivering outstanding service to your clients. So if you really want your law firm to come off as professional, you need to strive to provide a superior level of customer service, and not settle for anything less.
Sure you could just let an answering machine handle a majority of your calls, but if a customer fails to get important questions regarding their case answered, they are likely to be underwhelmed with your services and begin looking elsewhere. A legal answering service receptionist will not just pick up the phone for all of the new callers you are unable to speak with, but perform a full legal intake on them as well. This way during follow-up conversations with your clients, you will be fully ready to advise them on their case.
Of course you could experiment with using a non-specialty answering service, but doing so can be extremely risky. A non-specialty answering service will typically serve many different types of businesses in a given hour, which in turn may result in a lower quality conversation, leaving customers feeling like they are calling someone far removed from your firm. A legal answering service on the other hand only serves law offices, and can make your customers feel like they are dealing with a seamless extension of your business, with personalized greetings and intake questions specific to your practice.
The bottom line is that in order to help clients achieve as many of their legal goals as possible, and have them hold your law firm in high esteem, you need to go above and beyond with the service you provide. A legal answering service can help you do so without having to over extend your in-office workers.