Welcome to a new edition of the Answering Legal Briefing, a monthly blog post in which we update you on the latest news surrounding our company, and give you insider tips on how to make the most out of a legal answering service.
Recently on our company’s “Everything Except The Law” podcast — a show which features in-depth interviews on topics that attorneys weren’t exactly trained to handle back in law school—we spoke with Ali Katz, author of the new book “The New Law Business Model”. Our conversation with Katz covered a wide-range of topics, but the most intriguing part of the episode for this author was when the subject of new client intake was brought up. Katz, an attorney herself, passionately discussed just how important making the right first impression on new leads is to a firm’s success.
“The key that is going to change everything for (lawyers) is learning how to engage the people that are calling them,” Katz said. “The first thing that you’ve got to work on in order to create a new law business model is what I call your client engagement system. And it starts with your intake and starts from the minute that your phone is answered.”
In this edition of The Answering Legal Briefing, we’ll dive a little deeper into how lawyers can create an effective client engagement system for their firms, and how our service can help empower them to do so.
What’s The Absolute Worst Way For Law Firms To Greet Their New Leads Over The Phone?
Imagine being a person dealing with legal complications, stressing over potentially life-altering decisions and calling an attorney for the first time only to hear the person answering the phone simply say “law office”.
This type of greeting is not only pretty vague and confusing (which law office have I reached?), but also extremely uninspiring. “Never have your phone answered saying ‘law office’,” Katz said. “You want to make the caller feel welcome.”
Engaging new leads largely comes down to your ability to connect with them on a personal level and make them feel cared for. The initial greeting you offer a prospective client can go a long way towards determining how the rest of the call will play out. New leads will start forming an impression of your firm as soon as their first call with your office begins, so getting things off on the right foot is an absolute must.
Fortunately, adapting the way your practice greets its callers isn’t very difficult. Katz advises law firms to 1) start the call by saying “welcome to (name of your firm)”, 2) let the caller know the name of the person they are speaking with and 3) finish your initial greeting by asking “how may I assist you.”
This may not seem like that big a deal, but just think about how much of a difference there is between the following two greetings.
“Welcome to the Jones Law Group. This is Melissa speaking. How may I assist you?”
One way to ensure that your office is always offering a warm greeting like the one described in the second example is to sign up with Answering Legal and let our virtual receptionist team answer all of your calls. All of our receptionists are trained extensively on proper phone etiquette and making callers feel cared for. We also give firms the opportunity to personalize the greetings we use with callers to their firm. You tell us exactly how we should answer your phone, and our supervising staff will make sure it gets executed correctly every time.
How To Move Forward With New Leads
After welcoming her new leads over the phone, Katz’ firm will move on to setting up an appointment with callers for a two-hour educational meeting. Katz says that the time length of the educational meeting can vary, but that offering callers the opportunity to make an appointment for an educational meeting on their initial call to the firm is a must.
According to Katz, the attorneys that have worked with her New Law Business Model company and followed her new client intake practices have seen incredible success. “Many of (the lawyers) have 100% engagement rates,” she said. “What that means is that 100% of the people that sit down with them for that two-hour meeting say yes to their services at an average fee of three to five thousand dollars.”
We can certainly understand if you’re not ready to fully commit to the idea of holding two-hour educational meetings for your clients. You’ll probably want to read more about Katz’ client engagement strategies in her new book first. But, one thing you should start doing right away is examining the way you engage with new leads, and making sure you are offering a clear path for them to get started with your firm. Before a prospect’s first call to your office ends, they should have a strong understanding of what comes next in the process. And perhaps the best way to do this is by giving the caller the option to book a future meeting with an attorney.
Sure, you can have calls with news leads end with something like “one of our attorneys will be getting back to you soon”. But, leaving the exact time of your next conversation with a prospect unsettled may lead to them starting to shop around with your competition while they wait for your call back. This is something you certainly do not want. Offering new leads the chance to book a specific meeting time with an attorney will give them more certainty that their problems are on the way to getting solved and make it much less likely they explore other options for help.
One of the more advanced features offered by Answering Legal is appointment scheduling. We can easily integrate our service with just about any calendaring software, which allows our receptionists to book appointments with callers directly into a lawyer’s calendar.
So with the help of Answering Legal, you could theoretically set up a system like this:
- You designate specific slots in your firm’s calendar for meetings with new prospects.
- You let our team speak with your firm’s first-time callers, and allow our receptionists to offer new leads the chance to book a time to speak with you.
- You get an alert from our service notifying you anytime a new appointment has been booked, and quickly see your calendar start filling up.
Along with having an appointment scheduling system in place, you’ll also want to start carefully planning out what your follow-up meetings with new leads should look like. Do you want them to be heavy on education? Should they be more geared toward light conversation and really getting to know the prospect. For every firm the answer will be different, but putting more consideration and thought into how your office is going about engaging its clients is always a smart idea.
That’s it for this month’s briefing. For any lawyers who are currently not using Answering Legal, but are interested in giving the service a try for free for 7 days, fill out this form or give our team a call at 631-686-9700 to further discuss options.
Also be sure to check out last month’s briefing: How To Establish Communication Boundaries Without Upsetting Clients