Learning from mistakes. It’s something we often preach to our young, but don’t do enough of as adults. As I come down off my soapbox, I’d like to mention that this is part two of our three-part law practice management series, in which we’re discussing some of the biggest mistakes law offices make with today’s consumers. In our last piece, we covered where attorneys go wrong with their marketing efforts.
In this post, we’ll turn our attention toward the oft-forgotten step after marketing— lead capturing.
We know what some of you may be thinking. Once you get people to contact your law office, how much can really go wrong? The answer is a heckuva a lot. While grabbing people’s attention is no small feat in the digital age, it doesn’t take much wrongdoing for the modern legal consumer to lose interest. Once a customer gets the chance to directly communicate with someone from your practice, they’ll be looking for a knowledgeable, competent, and attentive voice. In order to ensure you make the right impression on potential new clients, you must avoid making these lead capturing mistakes.
Mishandling Web Leads
One change the digital age has brought, is that your firm website now plays a significant role in the lead capturing process. Today, lawyers must be ready to engage with consumers through multiple online channels. While a willingness to employ online communication channels typically exists with attorneys, a commitment to consistently managing their online communication channels is often lacking.
Law offices often mishandle leads on the web in these areas:
Offering an email address on your website as a form of contact can be a great way to ease non-committal consumers into a dialogue with your firm. However, very few consumers have the patience to sit around for days waiting for you to respond to their email requests. Don’t let customer messages get buried in your inbox!
Firms must also be diligent in checking and following up on their website’s sign-up form submissions. Whether the new lead information gets sent to an email address or is stored in a case management software, it must be accessed and acted on in a hurry.
If your firm has social media pages, expect some consumers to try and contact your firm through them. Closely monitoring your social media inboxes is a must, as it can be easy to miss direct messages from potential clients on platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Consumers may also express interest in learning more about your services by making comments on your social pages, or tagging your law office in a post of their own. So be aware, and make sure your practice is logging into its social accounts at least once every work day.
Having a live chat box on a website works great for some industries, as it allows companies to give their site visitors quick answers and information about their product, and push them closer towards a sale. Unfortunately, when it comes to legal issues, there aren’t many quick answers. In order to determine whether you can actually help a consumer with their legal issue, you’re likely going to have to get them on the phone. So if you are going to have a live chat box on your site, make sure someone from your staff is always manning it and ready to push customers towards your phone lines.
Contacting businesses through the web has become standard practice for today’s consumer, so failing to correctly handle web leads could be quite costly for your firm. Lawyers likely won’t have time to follow up on all their web leads themselves, so consider handing off web lead management to a trusted employee or receptionist.
Relying On Voicemail
Imagine you’re managing a baseball team. You map out a detailed game plan for the first eight innings, and it works to perfection, leaving your team with a lead in the ninth inning. Then when you have an opportunity to close out a win…you bring in a pitching machine. What?
This is clearly a terrible strategy. Yet, it’s a strategy similar to that of which many of today’s lawyers are using for their lead capturing. Attorneys spend countless hours developing detailed game plans for reaching and connecting with online consumers, then when they actually get customers to call their law office, they leave it to their voicemail machines to convert the client.
You may be thinking, is it really fair to compare voicemail to a pitching machine in terms of effectiveness? Believe it or not, the numbers say yes!
Statistics show that 80 percent of callers sent to voicemail fail to leave messages because they do not think they will ever be heard!
A majority of today’s impatient consumers will give up on doing business with your firm the second they hear the beep from your voicemail machine, and immediately move on to calling someone else for legal help. All that hard marketing work you did to cultivate a new lead instantly goes to waste, because you’re relying on a technology that peaked in the 90’s.
The Power of Live Answering
The simple solution to this problem is to have all of your office’s calls answered by a live voice. Having a live person answer your calls is necessary, because it lets the customer know that their call is actually important to you. A live receptionist can do things an automated machine can’t, like answer simple questions, express empathy towards the caller’s problems, and take customers through a proper legal intake process (which we’ll get to in a second). By doing these things, law offices are able to build consumer’s initial interest in investing in their services, into actual confidence in their firm.
Your staff likely can’t answer every call that comes into its office during normal working hours, and even if it can, you’re still missing out on a ton of client calls during after hours, weekends, and holidays. With this being the case, it’s probably time for your firm to team up with a legal answering service. A service like Answering Legal can give your practice invaluable around the clock receptionist coverage, and ensure that a highly trained legal receptionist is answering everyone of the calls you can’t get to. There simply is no better closer in the game than Answering Legal.
Having A Poor Legal Intake Process
Once an over the phone dialogue gets underway between your firm and a potential new client, and pleasantries are exchanged, the legal intake process begins. The person representing your law office on the phone will be tasked with collecting information about your caller and their case, by asking them a series of questions. While this process in theory should be rather simple, intake is an area in which many firms underperform.
Some reasons why firms struggle with legal intake
- New customer calls are being taken by law office employees who simply don’t have the time to be performing full legal intakes. A prime example of this would be an overworked solo attorney with a limited in-office staff.
- Law offices fail to put together a predetermined plan of action for their legal intake, and as a result, the information they collect is lacking in quality.
- The employees performing client intakes aren’t recording the caller’s details correctly, and end up passing along inaccurate information to the attorney taking on their case.
Doing legal intake right every time is key to raising your firm’s client conversion rate. It is the step in which you can show clients that your office is fully prepared to handle their case, and the stage in which necessary information is gathered to help a lawyer shine in their follow-up meeting with a new customer. If your office isn’t prepared or doesn’t have time to perform a proper legal intake on all of its new callers, we’d have to once again recommend turning to the receptionist team of Answering Legal. Before answering any actual calls on behalf of a law office, Answering Legal’s receptionists go through hours of legal intake and message taking training. A legal answering service is the client capturing safety net your firm needs.
So What’s Next?
Assuming you avoid all of the pitfalls laid out in the first two parts of this law practice management series, you should end up landing your firm a ton of new clients. In the final piece of our “Where Things Go Wrong” trilogy, we’ll discuss what you’ll need to avoid doing while managing cases.