A legal answering or virtual receptionist service can help take your firm to the next level. But many attorneys don’t consider it, believing an in-house receptionist—or even answering their own phone—is good enough. Let’s look at five important reasons to partner with a legal answering service now:
Many law firms forget one of the most important aspects of marketing—lead capture. It’s not enough to generate leads. You need to capture them. In other words, you have to pick up the phone when they call. Our data shows that about 20% of the calls our legal clients receive are at night or on weekends. But 73% of law firms don’t answer their phones outside of business hours, offering voice mail or nothing at all to clients who call when they’re closed. And 50% don’t respond to emails within 24 hours, either*. Why does this matter? If you don’t capture the leads you generate, you’re wasting your marketing budget. Your potential clients are under pressure to resolve a legal issue. They won’t wait. If you don’t respond when they reach out, they’ll move on to the next firm.
Lack of after-hours lead capture can lead to missed opportunities. But our call data shows that up to 80% of inbound calls to our legal clients do happen during regular business hours. Unfortunately, you can even miss out on those calls. An in-house receptionist, no matter how competent, can still only handle one call at a time. A virtual receptionist is different. A service like this gives you a pool of minutes to use when you need them. That means if you get no calls all day, you didn’t use any minutes. But if you get five calls at the same time—maybe when your ad airs on TV, or the Monday after you attend a big conference—the service can answer them all simultaneously.
Savvy attorneys know that good intake is critical. But some answering services miss the mark here. They can take messages for you, but that’s not real intake. If your attorneys are spending their time sorting through messages, you’re wasting their valuable time. A great intake process is more than just messages. You need a virtual receptionist with the flexibility to do some lead qualification. How does that work? Your virtual receptionist answers your calls. Instead of just taking a message every time, they ask questions that are important to you. For example, they can ask if the caller is a new or returning client. If the caller is new, the receptionist asks a few more questions to determine whether they’re a good fit for your firm. A solid intake process boosts your efficiency by making it easy for you to prioritize who to call back first.
Webchat is an increasingly popular communications channel for consumers of all types. In fact, people reported being satisfied with customer service delivered by live chat 92% of the time—higher than any other channel. Web chat offers two important benefits. For your clients, chat is convenient for those who prefer it. For your firm, chat integrates seamlessly with your lead capture process, helping you track who is contacting your firm and why so you can follow up effectively. A good virtual receptionist service makes it easy for you to offer this channel to your prospective clients. They’ll provide the code to add a chat widget to your site. And they’ll also give you the option to respond to the chats yourself or delegate that task to your virtual receptionist. If the service you’re considering doesn’t have chat, keep looking.
It’s important to give your clients multiple communications channels to keep in touch with your office. But eventually, you’ll probably want to meet with your clients face to face, or at least on a call long enough to go deep on their case. That means you need an effective appointment-setting system for your law firm. A virtual receptionist service can integrate with your online calendar, making it easy for people to book time with you or your intake team on the phone, via chat, or on your website. Having that appointment on your calendar puts the client’s mind at ease, and helps keep them from continuing to shop around for an attorney.
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Ready to learn more about what a legal answering service can do for your firm? Give us a call today!
*Data provided by Legal Trends Report By Clio 2019