By Hayley Earlam from Legal Futures’ Associate Concert Networks 
The telephone is the lifeline of most businesses. It’s how we communicate and get things done. And more importantly, it’s how we receive new business enquiries, how our customers talk to us and how we stay in touch with them over time.
So, what if your phone system really isn’t cutting it. It’s fair to say that sometimes we don’t think about how effective that thing on our desk is really being – after all it’s always been there, it rings, we answer…. But could it do more to make your life easy? And more importantly – your clients lives easy!
Do you really know what the experience is like when you call your law firm? This is what inspired our Secret Shopper research , where we Secret Shop law firms and use our finding to highlight how simple changes and technology can help improve client experience and process efficiencies within law firms.
And if the results have inspired you to check if your firms phone system is fit for purpose, here’s some tips on where to start…
Firstly, how old is your phone system? It’s worth considering that as a rule, legacy systems (ones that are over 7 years old) lack the necessary functions and features to be considered even slightly efficient. Ask yourself:
- Does your system notify you of necessary updates?
- Is your system user friendly enough to enable staff to make simple themselves?
- Can they make changes remotely, at any time?
- Can your phone system support remote working?
Phone systems should now feature an easy to use, web-based control portal as standard, so if you don’t have this it’s time to consider an upgrade. Features like colleague presence and softphones, along with other unified comms tools such as group chat aid productivity and mobile working.
Does it cost money to upgrading software or hardware to access new features? If so, you would be better in the long term to simply invest these funds into a new, cloud-based phone system – not only will you get access to the latest technology, but upgrades are automatically pushed from the cloud for free on an ongoing basis.
Ask your end users who user the phones day in day out what they think of your phone system – they’ll be able to tell you what’s really going on. It’s worth speaking to all departments. What may be working well for some business areas may be causing a headache in others. An ideal phone system should be flexible enough to cater for the needs of different business function.
Have you had any down time recently? Is call quality poor? Consider that a poorly performing phone system stops your business communicating – halting internal processes, damaging the service you provide clients and putting a stop to any inbound enquiries – ultimately affecting profit! Ask yourself the following questions, then try to think about the impact in terms of £ for your answers.
- Has your system had any downtime in the last 12 months?
- Does your system run a routine maintenance check?
- Does your system alert you of potential threats?
To be efficient, a phone system needs to be scalable. As your firm grows, moves forward or adapts processes, your phone system needs the capacity to add new users and the ability to add features.
- Does your system have the available capacity to deal with (at least) a 10% increase in staff, without upgrade or engineering costs?
- Does your system have the ability to increase its functions (such as hunt groups and call routing)? Can this be achieved without paying for an engineer’s time?
Does your phone system talk to other systems that your firm uses such as a CRM or Case Management software?
Think about how this could help your firm to work more effectively. For example, Proclaim  case management can integrate their software with Concert’s VoIP telephony system , creating the perfect practice management tool! This integration provides law firms with substantial process efficiencies and helps to better the experience firms provide to clients by allowing lawyers to dial out to clients directly from within the case management software, saving time.
It also enables the software to recognise an incoming telephone number and present the corresponding case file before the call is answered, improving communications and enhancing client experience.
This integration also allows for more accurate billing by recording chargeable interactions automatically within Proclaim case management software; meaning an end to missed billable time.
Are you confident that your phone system is protected from hackers? Every phone system should come equipped with standard security features to stop outsiders from hacking the system and making unauthorised calls. Check if you have effective security measures such as firewalls that will automatically block threats without manual intervention from an engineer.
Phone systems aren’t just a mechanism for making calls any more. A phone system should support your internal processes, making you more efficient as a firm. It’s a crucial part of the first impression a prospective client forms when they contact your firm and should enhance the way you serve your clients. A system really designed for a modern law firm can make a business-critical impact that directly improves bottom line. So, if you think your phone system isn’t up to scratch, speak to Concert – we’ll happily arrange a free telephony audit for your law firm.