Seven out of ten callers will hang up if they reach voicemail and move on to the next option. Let that sink in. That means for every three voicemails a receptionist picks up after lunch or an attorney has on their cell when they get out of court, seven people hung up and called a competitor instead. Setting up a comprehensive phone system may be the single most important thing a law firm can do for their business.
In this article, the experts at LeadQ share how their most successful law firm clients organize their phone system. LeadQ is a leader in qualified inquiry programs for bankruptcy attorneys. Their customized marketing programs offer potential bankruptcy clients both online forms and direct phone numbers to contact a local attorney. In 2019, 84% of all contact was via phone. This, and their unique program structure, means their employees hear hundreds of initial inquiry phone calls a month.
Here are four important points from LeadQ to keep in mind when setting up a law firm phone system.
1. Who answers the phone?
While not always possible, it is preferable for an attorney to answer the phone. This direct and personal contact sets firms apart from the competition and primes a trusting relationship with a possible client. It’s important that an attorney introduce themselves as such.
LeadQ says, “some lawyers don't say they are the lawyers right away. The caller says 'may I speak to the lawyer' and the lawyer says something like 'you're talking to them' which some callers find very embarrassing and then start apologizing before they've even had a conversation.”
If an attorney is not available to answer phone calls, it is less important who answers and more that the person is trained. Paralegals, office managers, and receptionists should all be trained to encourage appointment setting and be able to answer common questions.
2. Customer service training
Every customer-facing employee at a firm should be trained in basic phone etiquette and any standards and wording specific to each firm. LeadQ recommends a standardized, simple phone answering protocol.
Example - “Hello, this is [law firm,] my name is [name] [role] how can I help?”
An intake form for employees to use will ensure the conversation stays on track and that all necessary information is collected. It’s important to stay professional and refer to callers as Mr and Miss once they have given their last name rather than defaulting to first names right away.
The ability to professionally answer basic initial questions is vital. Employees don’t need legal training to answer questions about pricing and the next steps. Confidently explaining that they cannot give out pricing without an initial consultation is always better than feigning ignorance or avoiding the question. Anyone answering phones should also be able to explain the basics of what will happen at a consultation and any payment plans or $0-down offerings that may be applicable.
Rina K, LeadQ Call Specialist, urges firms to stay away from directories that require callers to press a number or extension. “It’s always better to have a person answer as quickly as possible, even if they need to transfer the phone afterward. We have so many people hang up before the extension options have even been explained.”
3. Voicemail messages
Even with the best phone set-up possible, some calls will inevitably go to voicemail. While this will lead to some callers hanging up, the length of a firm’s voicemail message has a significant impact.
According to LeadQ, messages less than 15 seconds long have a success rate of almost 70% with only 30% of callers hanging up. Messages between 15 and 30 seconds long have a steep drop with a 50%/50% call to hangup rate. Messages longer than 30 seconds have a mere 20-25% success rate with the majority of callers hanging up before the message has finished.
LeadQ best short message example - “You have reached [firm.] Your call is very important to us, so please leave a message with your name and number."
Rina K at LeadQ suggests turning off any automated message instructions. “I hear lots of personalized messages that end and then a recorded voice takes over and tells the caller to leave a message after the beep and then hang up, etc etc. This doubles the message length and everyone knows how to leave a message these days, so it's really not necessary.”
4. Answering services
Solo attorneys and firms with smaller staff may want to consider hiring an answering service for weekends and after hours. While answering services often cannot set appointments and typically only take messages, this is still preferable to a voicemail system when a call will not be returned immediately.
All answering service companies are not created equal and it is worth testing multiple companies to find the right fit. Give their employees a standardized greeting and question set, if possible, and ensure it is used every time.
It’s clear that phone system organization is a key factor in new client acquisition. The experts at LeadQ have over a decade of experience in building bankruptcy marketing campaigns and helping attorneys optimize their intake process. To learn more about their unique performance-based approach, fill out the form below.