Client, Culture, Ideas

LEX Reception Blog

Where to start with a legal virtual receptionist.

You’re thinking about trying a virtual receptionist for the first time. Maybe other attorneys have told stories of their newfound freedom from their phones. Maybe you’ve identified that you’re missing calls and potential clients. Or maybe you’re thinking about the holidays and dreaming of putting your phone down without worrying you’ll miss one vital phone call. 

“Life should always come first. I recently spoke to a client who had just returned to her practice from maternity leave. She was so grateful to have had that uninterrupted time with her new baby, without worrying that she was neglecting her clients because she had LEX there to answer incoming calls and webchats.”

Bre Swanson, Operations Director

Signing up to a virtual receptionist can seem intimidating if you haven’t done it before. There are so many features and plans to choose from, how do you know what you really need? And then comes the set-up process – how long could it take? Here’s the truth: getting started with a virtual receptionist is easy. You can make it even easier with a little preparation before you contact them.

I think I’ve found the right virtual receptionist for me. What now?

That’s a great start. Now you need to figure out what support you need from them. One of the things you can do to be prepared is calculate your current call volume. This will help you to get the right plan for your firm from the start.

You’ll need to check your call history for the number of calls you receive each month. If you have a VOIP phone provider like RingCentral or Nextiva, you should be able to gather this information from your online dashboard. If you use a cell phone instead, the call history tab will have each incoming call listed. You can count the number of calls that came in last week and multiply that number by 4 to get a good estimate on a typical month. 

Call volume is the number of calls you receive per month along with the average length of the calls.

If like LEX Reception, your virtual receptionist charges per minute rather than by per call, they can calculate the number of minutes you need. They’ll use your predicted number of calls and what services you want your virtual receptionist to provide to give you a starting estimate.

Some services should be expected to take longer. In our experience, you can expect averages of:

  • 2-3 minutes per call for message taking or call patching
  • 5-7 minutes per call for setting appointments
  • 4-10 min per intake call, depending on the amount of questions

Find out more about virtual receptionist pricing models.

Don’t worry – your virtual receptionist team can help. If you’re not sure exactly what features you need, you can call their sales team and present your current situation. Tell them the challenges you’re facing, your estimated call volume, and what your goals are for your firm. As experts, they can recommend what has worked for their clients before, and help you to prioritize the features that’ll help your firm most.  

I need the support now. How long will the set-up process take?

The set-up process for your virtual receptionist is simple – once you have signed up with a monthly plan, your virtual receptionist can start taking calls as soon as call forwarding is set up to forward to their specified phone line.

If you have set up call forwarding before, you’ll know it is designed to be quick and easy. Most phone providers will have call forwarding options on your dashboard and an article in their help center. If you have any questions, contacting your VOIP is the best solution.

What is call forwarding?

This is a feature that can automatically redirect your incoming calls to another phone number. These can be configured differently for office and out-of-office hours, or can even forward to the next number in a sequence if the first recipient doesn’t pick up in time.

Consider what time of day you want your calls forwarded to your virtual receptionist. Small firms or solos may want call forwarding on 24/7, to allow them time to focus on their casework. For firms with an in-house receptionist, they might want to set up call forwarding for evenings and weekends only. Our top tip is to set up call forwarding for overflow calls as well. If a call comes in when your receptionist is already on the phone, this could get automatically pushed to your virtual receptionist after 4 rings. This makes for a much more consistent client experience. 

This is one part of the process your virtual receptionist cannot help with. Only you have access to your phone provider and your virtual receptionist will not be able to take a single call until the call forwarding has been switched on. 

What kind of training do virtual receptionist services offer?

It depends on the service. We would recommend choosing one with live training and onboarding, as not only will it be more personalized, it will also give you the chance to ask questions and fully understand the tools you’ll be using. Choosing a service that specializes in legal will help to speed the process, as they already understand your industry and its challenges.

A good onboarding call isn’t quick. You can expect to spend up to an hour learning to use the service properly – though for the tech-savvy, this can be much quicker. For LEX customers, the onboarding process does two things.

  1. It gives you the skills to navigate your dashboard confidently and make the most of all your features
  2. It allows us to customize your account together: adding CRM integrations, editing your call flows and intake scripts, and setting up links to your appointment scheduling page or payment software. 

You can start your virtual receptionist service without this onboarding call. We find some of our clients prefer to start the service the day they sign up. This is possible because our script template for new customers is a legal script, so you will already have call flows for potential clients, opposing counsel, and court staff.

The ideal timeline is to organize the call for your first week of service. This is when you are starting to explore the features and identify key questions. It also helps you set great habits for you and your team going forward. 

Conclusion

If you’re setting up with a virtual receptionist for the first time, you’ll find there’s a whole new world of metrics and jargon to dive into. But you’re not alone. Your virtual receptionist service is your partner on the journey, and you can use their expertise when you are unsure. 

Remember, you are always in control of the pace. If you need to fill a staffing shortage in an emergency, you can get your virtual receptionist taking calls within 24 hours. And if you need more time to assess your needs and audit your current processes, your virtual receptionist will be there a week later when you are prepared. 

And finally – don’t think you have to get everything right first time! With LEX Reception, you can change your monthly plan if you start receiving more calls than you had expected. Your scripts can be edited as you gain more understanding of your client journey. It might take some experimentation to get your flow right, but it will be worth it for every potential client who can reach a friendly voice at 11PM on a Friday evening when they don’t know where else to turn. You’ll appreciate the flexibility, as it takes any stress off the set-up and leaves you to enjoy the benefits of your virtual receptionist service from day one.

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