By Legal Futures Associate AnswerConnect
Modern communication has grown to encompass a huge range of channels. But in a moment of panic or urgency, people still tend to pick up their phones and make a call. This is especially true in legal practices, where clients or potential clients call at all times with various questions and requests. Answering these inbound calls and responding in a timely manner is important to maintain strong bonds and build trust.
Dealing with inbound calls
Answering calls during important meetings or while at court is not possible. Having a dedicated person to take calls and messages is the first step to effectively managing inbound calls. But unlike emails or messages, calls can’t be scaled. A person can only tend to one caller at a time. You can’t say how long a call might take.
Simultaneously, 64% of callers will hang up if they don’t receive an answer within 5 minutes of calling a business. So your receptionists can either choose to rush a caller in order to reach the other callers before they hang up. Or they can remain on the call and potentially lose over half of the other callers to a competitor.
So how do you manage the calls your legal practice receives without compromising your clients (or exhausting your staff)?
In this article, we’ll explore how to increase inbound calls and offer tips on how to strategically manage them.
How do you increase inbound calls to your practice?
Make your number visible
To make it easier for clients to reach you, your phone number needs to be visible.
That means making it visible at every point of contact:
- On your website
- On web directories such as Google, Bing and AppleMaps.
- On review websites.
- On your social media channels.
- Your business cards.
- Your email signature.
Every touchpoint is an opportunity to get a new client or remind your existing clients to reach out to you.
As the name suggests, click-to-call enables people to call a phone number directly from a touchpoint (for instance your website, an email, etc,. Click-to-call is hassle-free and saves time for your clients. It also increases the likelihood of them calling your practice.
Update your website CTAs
A CTA–or Call-To-Action–is a text prompt that encourages visitors to take a specific action when browsing your website. It could be to learn more about the services you offer, your areas of expertise, or just to get in touch.
The core aim of a CTS is to push people to take a single action. A CTA can be as simple as “Call now” or “Submit review”. But in order to make it compelling, it should tell the user what they will get by clicking that button. It is important to keep your copy short, descriptive and clear. Experimenting with different language based on your customer data might increase your conversion rates.
If you have already taken these actions and are receiving a lot of calls, here is how you can manage them.
Introduce live chat
Live chat is one of the most popular channels for consumers. 42% of consumers say they prefer to live chat over other support functions because they don’t have to wait on hold. This might ring true for your legal practice as well.
By adding live chat to your website, you can help both existing and new clients. Be it a client messaging to schedule an appointment with a lawyer or a new client requesting to know about a service, your agent can help them all. Live chats also reduce errors while collecting necessary client information and makes it easier to keep track of the details shared.
Just as nobody likes being left on hold when they call a business, clients don’t like being left on read when they reach you through your website. But unlike calls, one agent can handle multiple chat conversations simultaneously without any disruptions to the client. Having well-written scripts and answers to frequently asked questions will help your agents work seamlessly.
Use client intake forms
Client intake forms can be a great way to engage your new clients. You can add them to your website or provide them with a link when they reach out to you via call or live chat. The answers provided in the form could help you determine whether you could provide the service required by the client. This could also help you determine whether there might be any conflicts in taking the particular case.
The forms can also provide you insight into the most frequent type of services requested, busy seasons and the demographics of potential clients. This data can be utilised to increase your client flow, hire extra staff to handle peak seasons and improve your marketing strategy. But on top of everything, the client intake form will help your client feel seen and heard. This could be your first step in building a rapport with your clients.
Create a priority call list
Every call is an opportunity, be it to connect with a potential client or help out a loyal client. But there is a difference between an emergency and an inquiry.
The first step to resolve this; create a call priority list. Using the list, you can identify which calls must be answered right away and which can be scheduled to be resolved later. Often, the caller simply wants an acknowledgement of their presence. Ultimately, all effective communication comes down to ensuring the speaker feels heard. A priority list could look something like this:
|Calls from judges/court requesting information about a hearing.||Legal team handling the case||High||“Can you please share the necessary information before I transfer you to our respective legal team?”|
|New clients calling for advice regarding an aspect of their case.||Legal team||Medium||“Can you please give me some information about yourself and the solicitors you’re working with and they’ll get back to you within the next 48 hours.”|
|An office supply salesperson reaching out to enquire about new office supplies.||Reception||Low||“Thanks for calling. Please leave a contact number. We will get back to you with a response soon.”|
Using this priority list, you can provide every caller with a prompt response but prioritise those whose inquiry/issue can’t wait.
Outsource your inbound call management
Hiring new staff and training them is expensive and time-consuming. And even if you hire a team to work during office hours, they still have to go home at the end of the day. That means your lines are essentially down for a significant portion of the day. The lack of communication can jeopardise time sensitive-cases and clients. Similarly, clients who are unable to get through with an initial try might look elsewhere.
Adjusting for fluctuations in call numbers becomes a lot more challenging when you have to source, hire and train new staff. And then what happens when your call volume decreases? You’re left with additional staff you can’t justify keeping on the payroll.
A call answering service could offer a potential solution. Not only can a team of “virtual” receptionists offer more comprehensive service than in-house (working in shift patterns rather than being tied to a 9-5 schedule), they can help reduce overheads. The average annual salary of an in-house receptionist (outside of London) is £20,532. The annual cost for a virtual receptionist varies significantly but is typically a lot cheaper.
Naturally, virtual receptionists are limited in what they can do. Most services don’t include outbound calls or other services that an in-house receptionist might be asked to perform (for instance booking travel and accommodation for staff).
Analyse. Agree. Act.
Whichever option you choose for your legal practice, it’s important to review and adjust the process as you go. Gather feedback from your team at key milestones and agree on the changes you want to make to your inbound call process with clear goals. Then, roll the changes out and repeat the process when you reach the next milestone.
The path to perfecting your inbound call process is never a straight line, but it’s a journey worth embarking on today!