A common mistake that law firms make is spending a lot of time and money on marketing but not enough on the intake process. However, the intake system at your practice can determine the quality and quantity of clients generated. That initial contact could be the difference between getting a new client and losing one.
Many law firms have flaws in their intake systems that may not be immediately apparent. Fixing those weaknesses will help you create a more effective intake strategy that will improve client closing rates.
Working with hundreds of law firms since 2008, Client Chat Live has learned intake secrets from some of the best practices in the industry. Here are some of the main points they focus on when it comes to their intake teams and systems.
Law firms often hire the wrong person for an intake role because the practice fails to place enough importance on the process overall. Hire individuals who know the value of generating leads for a business. An employee with a sales background may be better suited for intake than one with legal or basic customer service experience, as you need someone who can help turn that phone call into an appointment.
Having a dedicated intake team is also recommended. Leaving paralegals in charge of new clients is not ideal because they have other duties to fulfill and may not give prospective clients their due attention. Hiring the right talent, staff, or service is an investment that pays for itself.
Creating a script will allow you to ensure consistency in what your intake team is communicating to potential clients. A few issues a script will address include:
Creating a specific guideline on how to answer calls will also reduce confusion, since employees can then refer to the script for the next course of action and avoid fumbling for answers. You can test several versions of your call-answering script and then proceed with the one that works best.
People are often frustrated by calling an office and just getting a computer system that provides prompts. Some don’t even wait to hear the second word; they just hang up. Having a machine to answer requests from potential clients can ruin lead conversion rates for your law firm.
When prospective clients call, they want to hear a live person on the other end. These calls are likely from people who may be in serious trouble, and waiting for a machine to finish telling them what to do creates a poor first impression.
Potential clients will call because they need legal counsel in one capacity or another, and that means the first phone call may come with a lengthy story. As much as you may want to keep conversations concise, allowing a caller enough time to talk is a positive course of action. Listening to their story is not only a great opportunity to gather information but also to start building rapport for your firm.
When dealing with a personal injury case, a little empathy will go a long way. Asking follow-up questions will help clarify any part that may have been confusing. A prospective client may also want to know about your firm’s experience, fees, and payment terms. Provide the answers clearly so that they have the necessary information to make their decision.
Once you have a system for obtaining important information about the potential client and their situation, you will next need to ensure you have attorneys or other staff to close. Depending on the size of your firm, a rotation based on case type or severity is a good method for distributing potential clients. Senior attorneys or experienced staff should handle the more complex and likely larger cases, while others can take on the normal day-to-day opportunities. Designate these specific individuals so that the people handling potential client calls know what the next steps will be with as little effort as needed.
The intake system and team at your firm deserve time and capital to provide your potential clients with consistent and effective assistance. Your intake staff should have the proper training to handle potential clients and determine the next steps in your process. They should not have to reinvent the wheel with each phone call, so provide them with tools that will reduce the decision-making process as much as possible. Understand that putting this in place will require time and possibly money, but don’t shortcut the process.
Remember that people have many choices when it comes to law firms and that competition continues to get stronger. If you want to learn more about how to improve your intake systems and get more clients, contact Client Chat Live today at 808-495-0231.