We here at Answering Legal believe we are different from other answering services. Unlike other call centers, we’re invested first and foremost in giving your callers a superior experience. We don’t worry about call volume; we worry about call quality. And that’s why we spend so much time making sure our receptionists are legal intake experts.
Below, we’re offering an in-depth view of how we train our legal intake receptionists. It’s the first part of a four-part series focusing on our receptionists and what they do.
- Part one will cover screening and training.
- Part two will cover the daily responsibilities of our receptionists.
- Part three will cover call protocols and customization.
- Part four will cover how we keep up with changes to customer accounts.
But before we can get to training, we have to cover how we choose our legal intake receptionist candidates.
What We Look For In A Legal Intake Receptionist
Before beginning training, our receptionists first must pass through our screening process. We don’t let just anyone become a virtual receptionist for Answering Legal; we vet every applicant before they ever pick up a phone. The process will be familiar to you if you’ve ever been in charge of hiring an employee, whether that be a receptionist or an associate.
The first step is the resume. We trim our pool of candidates down to a manageable amount by filtering out anyone who doesn’t have any experience in customer service. Next, we conduct interviews. This is where the meat of the hiring process happens. In the interview, we’re looking for four qualities: professionalism, politeness, work ethic, and a customer service mindset.
Professionalism is key to our hiring process because our receptionists don’t just represent Answering Legal. They represent every firm that uses our service. It’s up to us to make sure that representation will be worthy of the firm they’re answering for. In the same way, politeness is incredibly important for every one of our legal intake receptionists. Being able to handle callers well, even if they’re not being polite themselves, is a key skill.
Work ethic is important for every job, but is especially important for our receptionists. In order to handle the number of calls we do as effectively as we do, we need our legal intake receptionists to take it upon themselves to provide stellar service. They need to be answering often and delivering clients to lawyers exactly the way they requested. They can’t be interested in taking the easy way out.
Finally, we look for a customer service mindset. All that means is that they’re interested in providing superior experiences to callers for its own sake. The people who call law firms are often in distress; making sure our receptionists are invested in making sure they get the help they need is key to delivering stellar service to our customers.
How We Train Our Legal Intake Receptionists
Once we select our candidates, their training begins. Before they ever pick up a phone, our legal intake receptionists have to undergo our training process, a 90 day exercise in both basic phone handling and in legal intake.
We can afford to spend so long on our receptionists because they only answer for attorneys. If they were answering for other industries, we couldn’t possibly spend three months on each one, and so each individual industry would receive poorer quality service. Instead, we focus on just answering for attorneys, and make sure that our legal intake receptionists are experts.
Below, we’ll describe what we cover in both the basic and legal intake training and how we teach it.
Basic Phone Training
The first step is training our receptionists to answer the phone for anyone who might decide to call up a law firm. This is similar to the kind of training they would receive at any job where they had to interact with potential clients on the phone, regardless of industry. Below you’ll find a list of some of the things we train our receptionists for.
- Basic phone etiquette: How to greet a caller, direct them to the next part of the conversation, and collect callback information, as well as how to end a call.
- Call protocols: How to identify callers and sort them based on their reason for calling, for example, whether they’re a new client or an existing client.
- Warm transfers: How to perform a transfer when requested by the attorney, and how to explain to the attorney exactly what the caller needs so they can handle the call themselves. Click here to learn more about what warm call transfers can do for a law firm.
- Account navigation: How our system works, and how to recognize all the different ways a firm has customized their service.
- Problematic callers: How to deal with callers who are angry or upset with de-escalation tools. Click here to learn more about how we handle irate callers.
- Message taking: How to write professional and detailed messages, how our message system works, and what information to include in a message.
There is, of course, much more to answering for lawyers than just those topics, but that will give you an idea of the kinds of things we train our receptionists for. We impart that knowledge through a series of lessons, tutorials, roleplays, and shadowing sessions. Our receptionists learn, practice, and observe until we are sure they’re ready to answer for our attorney customers.
Legal Intake Training
Simultaneously, our receptionists undergo legal intake training. This is the training regimen that makes them experts in answering for lawyers. General phone etiquette is a necessity for every phone answering job; legal intake receptionists need to know more than that.
We teach our receptionists to become legal intake experts in three ways. The first and most basic is teaching them the basic legal intake questions common to all legal practice areas. Contact information, current representation if any, and the kind of case they have are all included in that.
Next, we get more specific. Every firm is different, and every practice area is different, so we can’t teach our legal intake receptionists how to handle every kind of call. But we can show them as many different legal intakes from distinct practice areas as we can, so that they can be as prepared as possible.
Finally, we teach improvisation. We can’t possibly expect them to memorize all of the thousands of sample scripts we have, and we can’t expect our legal intake receptionists to memorize the unique legal intakes from our customers who customize their process. That’s why we teach them the purpose behind the questions they’re asking.
Our receptionists are trained to understand that their job is twofold: to secure leads and collect information about potential clients. They don’t just note down information; they make a lead feel like they’ve already hired the firm our receptionists answer for. With that understanding in mind, they’re prepared to respond to any call that comes in, for any firm using our service.
Below are some examples of the kinds of information our receptionists might have to gather on any given call for three selected practice areas.
Criminal Defense Law
- What are the charges?
- What was the date of the arrest?
- When is your next court date?
- Which county/municipality did this occur in?
If the call is regarding an OVI/DWI:
- Did you consent to a field sobriety test or breathalyzer?
Bankruptcy and Foreclosure Law
- Are you currently employed?
- Have your wages been garnished or are they about to be garnished?
- What is the approximate amount of debt?
- Is your home in foreclosure?
If the call is regarding a divorce:
- Are there any children between you and your spouse?
- Do you and your spouse own a home together?
- Do you have a prenuptial agreement?
Personal Injury Law
- What type of accident has occurred?
- Were there any injuries sustained? If so, please list the injuries.
- What was the date of the accident?
- Are you missing work because of the accident?
Learn More About Our Training Process
This is just part one of our series covering everything our legal intake receptionists do. If you’d like to move on to the next part, or skip ahead, click one of the links below. You’ll learn about the daily life of our receptionists, how they respond to customization, and how we keep up with constant changes to customer accounts.