When we say everything at Answering Legal is customizable, we aren’t kidding. Below, you’ll find the third part in our four-part series diving into our legal intake receptionists and their responsibilities. In this blog, we’ll be covering just some of the ways you can customize your service. If you’d like to find the other parts of the series, click one of the links below.
- Part one covered our training and screening process.
- Part two covered a day in the life of our receptionists.
- Part three will cover customization and call protocols.
- Part four will cover how we keep up with constant changes.
We’ve limited ourselves to the customization options that come up in every call, because otherwise we wouldn’t be able to fit it in one blog post! If you’ve ever wondered what we mean when we say that our receptionists are an extension of your firm, this blog is for you. Every aspect of our service is customizable, and in this blog, we’ll show you what that looks like to our receptionists.
An Introduction To The Different Kinds Of Call Forwarding
In order for our legal intake receptionists to start receiving calls, law firms have to first forward them to us. That’s the first customization option: when would you like us to answer your calls? There are four types of call forwarding: manual, scheduled, conditional, and full-time.
Manual forwarding is very simple: Some attorneys like to remain in complete control of their phones, and so they manually forward and unforward their calls to our service every day.
In a very similar vein, scheduled forwarding is also simple; some attorneys just want us to handle their calls from 6 PM to 8 AM and on weekends, for example.
Conditional call forwarding is where things get more complex. There are a variety of conditions available to attorneys using our service. For example, some attorneys only want us to answer after the call has rung three or four times on their phone, to give them or their in-house receptionist team a chance to answer. Others only want calls forwarded to our service when all of their phone lines are already engaged. We also call conditional call forwarding “rollover”, because calls can be forwarded while they’re on the line. If a receptionist can get to the phone in two rings, then the firm handles the call in-house. But if not, one of our legal intake receptionists will handle the call. The call “rolls over” to our service. It allows firms the ultimate flexibility in phone handling.
For firms that want to use our service to screen their calls, or else don’t want to be interrupted by constant phone calls, full-time call forwarding will ensure they don’t ever have to deal with unwanted phone calls. Thanks to our robust transfer system (more on that later), these attorneys get to skip calls that would waste their time while still being able to, for example, speak to new clients immediately.
Nailing The Custom Greeting
Once the call gets forwarded to one of our legal intake receptionists, they answer the call immediately and use the firm’s chosen greeting to introduce themselves and the firm they’re answering for to their client. It’s a simple but effective way to establish themselves as an extension of the firm they’re answering for.
As you may have noticed in part two of this series, it isn’t immediately obvious that the caller is speaking to someone at a law firm call center; instead, it feels like someone at the firm has picked up the phone. Even a greeting as simple as “You’ve reached the Law Offices of Tom Lawyer, Esq. My name is Linda. How can we help you today?” establishes everything you need to get a call off on the right foot.
Of course, a firm’s greeting doesn’t have to be simple. Sometimes, attorneys find they want to customize their greeting a little bit more. Whether it’s a marketing catchphrase or an accolade they want to highlight, often something more detailed can be just as, if not more effective.
For example, “You’ve reached the Law Offices of Tom Lawyer, Esq., Milwaukee’s most trusted name in family law,” has a certain ring to it. As long as it’s not too long, the limit to the greeting is the attorney’s imagination.
Whether it’s simple or more creative, a firm’s greeting helps establish our legal intake receptionist as an extension of that firm. From there, they have a good foundation to move onto the next part of the call: determining the nature of the caller, and following the appropriate call protocol.
How Call Protocols Work
We mentioned before that our transfer system allows attorneys to use our service to screen their calls while still speaking to important callers. Our legal intake receptionists follow call protocols to make that happen.
After greeting a caller, our legal intake receptionists determine what kind of call they’re handling. Call protocols take those categories and apply instructions to them. After all, there’s a big difference between an existing client calling for an update and a new client calling to hire you. Often attorneys want to talk to new clients as soon as possible in order to secure their business, and so request that our receptionists attempt a transfer for all new leads.
It’s important to note that we often patch calls directly to an attorney’s personal phone. During this process, all personal information is kept private. The caller never sees the phone number they’re being patched to.
Below, we’ll discuss how our receptionists handle each kind of call, depending on the call protocols that law firms using our service set up beforehand.
Existing Client Calls
Every firm should be making sure that each client’s experience with that firm is as positive as possible. The truth is, however, that existing client calls are generally not as urgent to law firms as new client callers. Often, existing clients just want an update, or are following up on a document request their attorney gave them. Speaking to a receptionist and leaving a message, with the promise that their attorney will follow up with them shortly, is often enough for them.
Firm Has Indicated They Would Like Existing Client Calls Transferred
If an existing client calls and the attorney has indicated that they would like our legal intake receptionists to try and transfer the call, our receptionist will gather the callers name, contact information, and the reason for their call.
Then, while putting the caller on a brief hold, our receptionist will reach out to the attorney to see if they are available for a transfer. If the attorney is available, our receptionist will introduce the caller and explain the reason for their call, then patch the caller through.
If the attorney isn’t available, our receptionist will let the caller know and offer to take a message, assuring the caller that their attorney will get back to them as soon as possible. We’ll talk more about our message taking service later in this blog.
Firm Has Indicated They Would Like To Take A Message From Existing Client Callers
If an existing client calls and the attorney has indicated that they would not like the call to be transferred through, our receptionist will follow the same protocol as if the attorney was not available in the example above. They will collect the caller’s contact information and the reason for their call, then take a message, assuring the caller that their attorney will get back to them as soon as possible.
New Client Calls
New clients, on the other hand, are the lifeblood of any business. Their needs are urgent; if you don’t answer their calls, they’re likely to call another attorney. In addition, they haven’t gone through any of your firm’s intake processes. In general, there’s more to a new client call than to an existing client call.
Firm Has Indicated They Would Like New Client Calls Transferred
When a new client calls and the firm they’re calling has determined that they would like to patch new clients through, our legal intake receptionist will greet them, gather their information, and determine what kind of case they’re calling with. Then, they will put the caller on a brief hold while they reach out to the attorney and see if they’re available for a transfer.
If the attorney is available, our receptionist will introduce the caller and explain the reason for their call, then transfer the new lead through so that the attorney can secure their business. If the attorney isn’t available, our legal intake receptionist will instead take the caller through that firm’s custom legal intake process and take a message. We’ll discuss legal intake later on in this blog.
Firm Has Indicated They Would Like Our Receptionists To Perform A Legal Intake
If the attorney is out of town or just too busy to handle any phone calls and has decided they want our receptionist to just take a message from every caller, phone calls from new clients will look very similar to what happened just above, where the attorney wasn’t available for a transfer.
Our legal intake receptionist will gather the caller’s contact information and the reason for their call, then take them through a custom legal intake. Then, they will pass all that information along in a message to the attorney, so that they can follow up as soon as they are able.
Every Firm Gets A Custom Legal Intake Process
Legal intake is one of the most important jobs our receptionists have when they answer for our law firm customers. It’s a firm’s first impression and a great tool for gathering information, but it’s also the foremost tool in a firm’s lead capturing arsenal.
That’s why we make sure our legal intake receptionists get it right. In part one, we covered how we train our receptionists on the basics of legal intake and familiarize them with more customized processes, while leaving room for improvisation.
The basics are:
- The caller’s name
- Their address and phone number
- Whether they already have legal representation
- Details on the case
- The caller’s expectations about the case’s outcome
- How the caller heard about the firm
Of course, every practice area has its own needs. We shared some example questions by practice area in part one, and will link to them below:
But even beyond that, legal intake can be customized any way you want. If you ever look at a new client’s file and find you’re missing information, you can request it from our legal intake receptionists and they’ll be sure to gather it.
As a rather absurd example: do you want to know if the new lead has any pets, and if so, their names? We’ll make sure you have that information when you need it. And, as demonstrated in part two of this series, our receptionists gather that information conversationally. That’s where improvisational skills come in. Yes, they’re filling out fields on a form, but the client never feels like they’re sitting in a doctor’s waiting room.
Instead, they feel like their problems are being heard by a compassionate professional, which is a big part of why they called an attorney in the first place. They will feel like they’ve already begun the process of hiring your firm.
Our Message Taking Service Keeps You In The Loop
At the end of every call, our legal intake receptionists bundle up all the information they gathered and send it to our attorney customers immediately. Our law firm customers never miss a business opportunity because they didn’t know about a new lead until it was too late.
At the very least, that message will contain the caller’s contact information, a summary of their call, any message they wanted to leave, and, if applicable, the legal intake. Like our other services, our message taking is completely customizable. Our receptionists will make sure to include whatever information you request in every message.
You can also customize our message taking by choosing how we deliver those messages. We can send messages via text, email, and/or CRM notification. Our customers choose whichever suits them best, or all three, so that they can always be on top of what’s going on with their firm. If you’d like to learn more about our message taking service, click here to find out what makes it tick.
In addition, we can automate these messages to tie them to all of your favorite law firm software. Want legal intake sorted into new client buckets immediately, to skip all the data entry that comes with hiring a new client? We can make it happen. Your imagination is the limit when it comes to automating your firm; whatever makes your workflow smoother, we can do.
All Of That In 30 Minutes Or Less With Answering Legal
It sounds like a lot, right? Over 2000 words of features and options to customize and optimize to your heart’s content. Luckily, we’re experts at setting up our system. Our setup team needs only thirty minutes to get all of a law firm’s customization options on file.
After that, we use the free trial every customer goes through as a kind of beta test, to make sure that before anyone is paying for our service, everything is exactly right for their firm. During that time, our legal intake receptionists will be able to access all of that information on screen while handling calls, and our law firm customers can gauge which settings work best for them.
Click here or call 631-686-9700 if you’d like to sign up for our free trial. For a limited time, we’re offering law firms that sign up for our service 400 free minutes.
And if you’d like to check out the other parts of this series, click the links below.