We’ve all been on the bad side of a phone conversation with a business. Nothing makes you want to take your business elsewhere more than sitting on hold or fighting with customer service to get what you want.
Have you ever wondered if some clients feel the same way about your firm’s phone handling? Even with the advent of communications technology like email, video conferencing, and text messaging, phone calls remain the top method for getting in contact with a lawyer. If your phone handling isn’t working for your firm, it’s probably working against it.
If you’re just now starting to wonder if your firm might need some help, you’re in luck. Below, we have three signs your phone handling is costing you clients. And at the end of the blog, we have a handy recommendation in case you recognize your firm in these signs.
You’re Missing Calls Altogether
Imagine this: you’re at your office, after “closing time”. Of course, to many law firm owners, there’s no such thing as closing time. But still, the sun has set, and you’re on the last thing you need to get done before leaving the office when your phone rings. You want nothing more than to finish whatever task is keeping you at the office and head home. Do you pick up the phone?
The correct answer, unfortunately for your work/life balance, is yes; you always pick up the phone. If you miss a call from a potential client, you’re missing out on business, period. Your leads are more likely to call the next result on their Google search or the next firm on their list than to wait for you to call them back.
Responsiveness is both the number one source of complaints about law firms and a top criterion for choosing legal representation.
According to Clio’s 2022 Legal Trends Report, responsiveness ranked only behind client reviews for what clients use to determine the right law firm for them. And since, according to the ABA, a lack of responsiveness is the top source of formal complaints clients make against attorneys, you can bet that responsiveness will be very important to client reviews, too.
Your clients, new leads included, want to feel like they are the most important thing about your firm. They aren’t going to wait for you to get back to them. Answering the phone when they call is the best way to make sure you secure their business.
You’re Still Relying On Voicemails And Phone Trees
You might be asking yourself: “Who misses calls anymore? Don’t they all go to voicemail?” For example, in the same after-hours call situation we posed above, couldn’t you just let the call go to voicemail and call them back in the morning?
While this sounds fine in theory, the reality is that people hate both voicemail and phone trees. Clients are more likely to hang up than to leave a voicemail or navigate all the way through an interactive voice response (IVR) system.
In a 2019 survey, Vonage found that only 13 percent of consumers believed an IVR system provided them with a positive experience, and that 85 percent of callers had abandoned a call just because they reached an automated response system!
And even if they do engage with a menu or leave a voicemail, these methods don’t secure leads. If you wait too long after a voicemail, that client may already have found another attorney who actually picked up their call.
According to Clio’s 2019 Legal Trends Report, 79 percent of clients expect a call back within 24 hours of leaving a voicemail.
If you’re relying on voicemail, you’re only going to be able to secure the leads who leave voicemails and that you get back to within 24 hours. The percentage of new leads voicemail actually helps you secure is vanishingly small.
Your Clients Are Spending Too Long On Hold
Answering the phone and politely asking a new lead to wait while you wrap up your task or finish up on the other line seems like a reasonable request. Regardless of how reasonable it is, it doesn’t work. Leaving clients on hold is a surefire way to lose them to your competition.
In a 2019 survey, text message marketing company Avochato found that 92 percent of consumers expect to wait at least five minutes when put on hold.
If you were looking for legal help and got put on hold, would you feel like that firm was prioritizing your needs?
Consumers are used to an on-demand, instant-gratification experience with everything else.
That’s why studies have found that one third of callers won’t even wait, and another 27 percent will only wait one minute!
Putting it all together: every time you’re asking a potential client to wait on hold, you’re running a 33 percent chance they will just hang up and call someone else. If that hold is over a minute, that goes up to 57 percent! Putting clients on hold is asking to come back and find an empty line, and a missed business opportunity.
If You Recognize Any Of These Signs, It’s Time For Change
Each of these signs eventually runs up against the same problem: there are only so many hours in a day, and attorneys already have so much to do. You can’t answer the phone every time it rings and have time to actually practice the law. So what can you do?
Many firms hire receptionists. While they can handle the phone, once you factor in hiring, training, salary, benefits, and a lack of overnight availability, you’re looking at a lot of overhead for just nine to five coverage. Smaller firms may not be able to afford that kind of expense.
We have good news, though. If you recognize one of these signs in your firm, you can hire a legal answering service like Answering Legal. Our team of virtual receptionists for lawyers is highly trained, available 24/7, and will save you money on overhead.
Delegate Your Answering To Our Team Of Virtual Receptionists For Lawyers
A virtual receptionist for lawyers can do anything a traditional receptionist could do for a fraction of the cost. You won’t have to worry about training; our virtual receptionists train for months before they ever pick up the phone. If you’d like to read more about our training process, click here.
Most of that training is in legal intake. Our virtual receptionists for lawyers are able to use sophisticated, customizable scripts to take your new leads through your firm’s legal intake process. Once they do, they’ll feel like they’ve already started the process of hiring your firm. To learn more about our legal intake process, check out this blog.
Our system is just as good as our receptionists. All the information our receptionists capture will be sent immediately to you via text and/or email. If you’d like to speak to new clients immediately, we can transfer them to your personal number without sacrificing your privacy. And each of these features is available in both English and Spanish.
Finally, we can integrate our system with all your favorite law firm software. With our virtual receptionists for lawyers handling your phones, you’ll be able to connect your phone lines with your CRM or marketing management software, enabling you to automate the data entry that would normally be required when receiving new clients. If you’d like to learn more about our integrations, click here.
Want to know how it feels to have a near-perfect lead capture rate? Click here or call 631-686-9700 to sign up for our free trial. For a limited time, we’re offering firms that sign up their first 400 minutes free!