By Bernadette Bennett, Legal Commercial Manager at Legal Futures’ Associate Moneypenny.
Talk of ‘critical first impressions’ is nothing new, yet giving the highest quality communication when dealing with clients is still chronically overlooked in business. In the UK, a third of business calls go unanswered when clients call. Couple this with the fact that over two thirds (69%) of people won’t leave a voicemail message when their call isn’t answered and instead hang up. To understand why this happens, we need to look at how law firms handle their communications.
I have spoken with countless law firms that find themselves compromised by wanting to deliver world-class customer service, but end up focussing on their front of house presentation. This is easily understood, it’s far easier to tend to a visitor physically standing in front of you in reception than answer a ringing phone. But it’s right here that the problem lies. Calls are rushed, details missed, and the seamless, high-quality service goes askew.
One such firm recognised this as a problem to be fixed and in the process created the textbook method of not only improving their client-firm communications, but in encouraging their staff to adopt a new system.
For FBC Manby Bowdler, a top 200 law firm, engaging with an outsourced telephone answering service was no small feat. Over 200 staff across six locations had to be informed and engaged about the changes which would affect every member of the team. For many firms, the new telephone system is put in place, and staff are informed of the changes once it’s happened. But not this firm. It provides its clients with its own ‘Stellar Service’ client charter, ensuring over-and-above service as standard. Its team knew it had to choose its telephone answering service appropriately and work closely with its staff and chosen company to deliver the project to the high standard the firm expects.
Neil Lloyd, Sales Director at FBC Manby Bowdler, commented: “We recognised that we could improve our service and chose Moneypenny to help us, as they have an excellent reputation for outstanding customer service and share the same core values and ethos. Both companies value their staff and have been recognised by The Times as ‘Best Companies to work for’”.
The firm undertook a four-week trial with Moneypenny before implementing the system in full. Before the trial took place, key FBC Manby Bowdler staff travelled to Moneypenny’s offices and took the time to get to know their Moneypenny Receptionists so they could act as an extension of the team. They observed how they handle calls, discussed in detail the firms intricate needs and how best to approach working together. To make the transition as easily and logical as possible, the firm’s own switchboard system was recreated in its outsourced partners telephone system, ensuring that any receptionist who took any call for the firm would know exactly how to handle that call as if they were based in the firm’s offices.
Once everything was in place and ready, FBC Manby Bowdler presented the new system and the proposed changes to its wider staff. The initial problem was explained – the need to concentrate on physical clients and additional hospitality duties – and the benefits revealed; access to impressive telephone technology without the need to invest itself, and an extension to its team whenever it is needed. Staff were convinced, CMCs were consulted of the changes and the pilot went ahead.
An evaluation was undertaken after the four-week trial based on information and call data from Moneypenny and feedback was encouraged from FBC Manby Bowdler’s teams. When the findings were presented to staff and they were able to see how the firm worked in a way they have never been able to before and adjust themselves accordingly. For instance the optimum days and times in the week to hold meetings so as not to be unavailable at peak client call times.
Neil, commented: “The management data provided by Moneypenny has been invaluable to us. We weren’t aware that we were receiving nearly 6,000 calls a month, including calls on Saturdays and bank holidays. This was much more than anticipated and means that in the past we must have missed a considerable number of calls.
“We now have data about our busy telephone periods, so we’ve been able to make some improvements to the way we work. The majority of our meetings are now scheduled for Mondays, Thursday and Fridays to avoid the peak calls mid week.”
The result: a large firm leading the way in implementing and working together with an outsourced partner. Staff were consulted at every step of the way and the firm’s staff no longer have to work shifts or weekends to cover their calls.