By Kevin Bishop, Business Development Manager at telephone answering specialist Moneypenny 
New findings from Professor Ian Cooper, one year on from his Survey Report for Lawyers, show that law firms are still missing out when it comes to successfully handling telephone enquiries and converting business.
In 2013 Professor Cooper conducted 254 ‘mystery’ telephone calls and interviewed senior managers in 92 legal firms which revealed some startling results.
At that time it was found that 90% of the people who dealt with incoming calls admitted to either not being very good at it or not liking the task, while in over a third of all calls, neither party knew who they were talking to as the caller’s name was not taken and the call handler had not introduced themselves.
Furthermore in 97% of all calls the call handler failed to either ask if the caller wanted to go ahead or make an appointment and 70% of firms made no attempt to formally track or monitor incoming new enquiry calls and conversion rates.
Twelve months on, the legal marketing and business development adviser has repeated the exercise by making another 200 calls, only to disappointingly find that very little has changed. He says: “The truth is that things haven’t improved and firms are losing huge amounts of potential business that they could win. There is still a massive epidemic of poor enquiry handling and inefficiency.”
Professor Cooper highlights three common strategic errors which currently holding firms back when it comes to converting telephone enquiries into profitable business:
- Failure to understand how much is at stake
- Having the wrong people handling enquiries
- Failing to ask for the business
It’s true that there can be plenty at stake when it comes to getting your telephone answering right, both in terms of maximising lead generation activity and providing clients with a great service.
In one example, Professor Cooper quoted a firm he was working with which was receiving three calls per day asking for a ‘conveyancing quote’. Over the year this equated to 750 business winning opportunities with a value of around £1,300 each. This amounted to £975,000 worth of potential business and across their four offices … a massive £3.9 million. Even just a 10% increase in conversion rates, would have generated an extra income of £390,000.
There is a real skill in handling calls well in terms of caller satisfaction, business process and conversion results, which is why increasing numbers of law firms engage with an outsourced telephone answering provider to either dovetail with their in house team/s by taking overflow calls or by completely outsourcing their reception function.
Our legal receptionists both here in the UK and in Auckland, New Zealand work with more than 900 law firms of all sizes; taking the pressure off by making sure they never miss a call while providing their clients with the best possible experience.
Competition is fierce and expectations are high, with those firms appreciating the value of; and investing in, their telephone answering function more likely to gain advantage. So don’t underestimate the importance of your approach to each and every call. As Professor Cooper concludes: “Understanding and mastering the art of converting your telephone enquiries into profitable business, is the quickest, cheapest and most guaranteed way of generating additional revenue and profit.”