Falling at the first

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25 October 2012

Posted by Helen Hamilton-Shaw, director of services at Legal Futures Associate LawNet

Hamilton-Shaw: how quickly you answer your phone?

Do you answer your phones with a smile? If not, you can be sure your callers will be able to tell the difference.

It pays to give close attention to the little things that make up the overall impression your firm leaves with clients. Because how they feel about you and the service you provide can have a big impact on your business.

Research published by the Legal Services Board earlier this year shows that over half of people find their solicitor by recommendation or because they have used them before. And a massive 29% say the most important factor influencing their decision is reputation.

Whilst there’s obviously room for improvement, according to the report we’re quite good at getting it right at the moment. Some 86% of people were fairly or very satisfied with the overall service from their solicitor and only 3% were dissatisfied.

But this is a snapshot of what was happening in the yesterday of legal services. What about tomorrow, when there will be new players in the market? When your clients are being targeted by sophisticated competitors, securing that recommendation and repeat business is going to become harder. When the heat is on, the type of service you provide to clients will be even more important.

The good news is that if recommendation remains a primary route to choosing a solicitor, then existing firms will undoubtedly have a head start, but it will be the service and experience that clients receive that will be the differentiator.

When the highest percentage of work comes from repeat business and recommendation, the only way to keep building business is through delivery of great service. So it makes sense that money and resource is put into ensuring that your service is of the highest quality.

I have contact with a lot of law firms through my job and unfortunately they don’t always get it right. If I hung up when a phone has rung out over 20 times with no answer, as happened the other day (not a LawNet firm thankfully), you can be sure a client or potential client would have done so too. There’s a cost to your business of that lost call – both now and in the future – through lost potential recommendations and revenue.

So now is a good time to start with the basics, such as how quickly you answer your phone. If there’s a call-back needed, do you take a message and return it within 24 hours? Look at the systems you have in place – is voicemail used appropriately? Do you need to look at bringing in support answering services to help during busy periods? Most importantly, do your callers feel welcomed and valued when they contact you?

And are you using every interaction with a potential client as an opportunity to demonstrate and explain the benefits of choosing your firm? Otherwise, they’re likely to check out other firms, and it could just come down to price. This is about using excellent client service as business development tool.

If you haven’t tried calling your firm recently, why not give it a go? Count those rings, and listen for the smile.


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