As the end of the third national lockdown approaches, law firms must prepare for a dramatic and sustained spike in new enquiry volumes, according to research from Moneypenny.
Moneypenny handles more than 2 million legal calls and live chats each year for more than 1,000 legal firms in the UK, including 60 of the Top 200. Its latest figures show that during the first lockdown (26 March – 1 June 2020), telephone enquiries fell by 36% compared with pre lockdown figures – however in the weeks that followed, there was sustained demand higher than the yearly average.
In the seven weeks following the first lockdown, telephone enquiry levels were 27% up on pre lockdown levels – a 35% increase on the same period in 2019.
Interestingly, during the second lockdown (4 November to 2 December), there was no change in telephone demand compared with the week before lockdown, which suggests both legal professionals and consumers were adapting to the new normal and it was ‘business as usual’ for the sector.
During the first lockdown, Moneypenny also found that 65% of legal live chats generated leads for new client instructions, a 30% rise on the typical average – confirmation that consumers were seeking more support and guidance and were happy to use digital communications channels to do so, often outside traditional office hours.
Bernadette Bennett, Head of Legal Sector at Moneypenny said: “While it’s not surprising that lockdown created pent up demand – particularly when you consider that the housing market was frozen during the first lockdown – it’s extremely encouraging to see that appetite for legal services continued for a sustained period. Now that the Prime Minister’s Roadmap has been published, the end of lockdown three is in sight and an extension of the stamp duty holiday is confirmed, lawyers are likely to be busy over the coming months.”
“Being able to meet predicted demand and answer a significantly increased volume of telephone calls is critical to the sector’s ongoing success. With the government continuing to advise that people work from home, face-to-face meetings remain off the agenda so the phone and live chat will remain the first port of call for clients and prospects. Firm should use the coming weeks to prepare and make sure they have the necessary resource and support in place to meet demand.”
This is particularly sage advice as earlier this year, Moneypenny reported that 85% of people think UK businesses are using Covid as an excuse for long call and live chat wait times – rather than putting adequate client service support in place.
Bernadette added: “There’s just no excuse for this, particularly not almost a year into the pandemic. Consumers expect businesses across all sectors to have adapted by now. Long call and live chat waiting times are essentially saying to clients they are not important, which will lead them to take their cases elsewhere. Meeting projected demand and ensuring a positive, timely, professional and efficient client journey is imperative for legal firms looking to grow their pipeline during 2021.”