Law Firm Management: Giving clients top-rate treatment on the phone pays off
By Christopher Earley
A great phone experience can be an indirect but effective way of encouraging referrals. When clients are made to feel good by a service provider, they will almost certainly spread the word. The more vigorously a firm focuses on giving the best and personalized phone service, the more prosperous it will grow by way of referrals.
When my staff speaks with clients on the phone, they have an opportunity to provide a great experience. During these calls our clients are not just updated on the status of their case, but more importantly, asked how they are doing. This reminds the client that we care, and creates an experience where the client feels concern from our team. Clients remember this. I believe the way calls are handled is one of the most important aspects of running and growing a successful law office. Here are some easy and free ways to improve the experience of all callers to your firm:
The greeting. Instead of the cold and off-putting “Law Office,” try “Good afternoon, welcome to Smith Law, this is Henry, how may I best help you?” This is low-hanging fruit that when implemented, radically and swiftly tells the caller they have not reached an average law firm. Instead, they have found a law firm that sounds warm and inviting. That can be disarming to people who feel nervous and uneasy about calling a lawyer. If the firm’s telephone greeting is not right, change it immediately.
Empathy. People call lawyers because they have a problem that needs to be solved. Demonstrating empathy on the phone with potential and existing clients creates a connection, and tells the caller they are being heard. I teach my team members to speak with clients and potential clients the way they would speak to their grandmother.
Hold times. Many times we unknowingly keep people on hold for much too long. Placing someone on hold for just two minutes feels like four minutes to the caller. Make sure that all callers are asked for permission before they are placed on hold.
Forwarding the caller. If a call is going to be forwarded, the caller must first be asked for permission to be forwarded, and should be told the name and the title of the person they are being transferred to. These are minor details but they stand out to the callers.
Scripts. The tighter the script, the better. Scripts can guide team members to provide all callers with a memorable experience. Of course, team members shouldn’t sound like robots. But the more the phone process can be scripted, the better it will be handled.
After Hours. When new clients call after hours and on weekends, are they reaching a human being, or voicemail? When a toilet is overflowing, do you call plumbers and leave voicemails hoping to get a call back? Probably not. Most of us keep calling plumbers until a live person answers who can offer assistance. Potential clients calling a law practice are no different. Ignore the need to have someone answering the phones at all hour at your peril.
All team members need to be consistently encouraged and reminded of the importance of providing a top-shelf phone experience to all clients so that nothing falls through the cracks. Be sure to praise team members who do a great job. If they don’t perform well, discuss in private what happened and how to avoid it next time. As with everything, tying actions to your firm’s core values is very important. Properly handling all phone calls at a firm is a small hinge that opens big doors. Always seek to identify ways the phone service can be improved, and you will reap the rewards.
Christopher Earley is a Boston personal injury attorney and author who focuses his practice on the representation of the seriously injured and their families. His firm website is www.ChrisEarley.com.