Posted by Claire Smith, head of business development at Legal Futures Associate Moneypenny 
Are you feeling the effects of being back at work yet? Holidays are over for most and we are instead daydreaming of the summer gone… I can still smell sun tan lotion. But the autumn is now upon us. And with it, the subconscious knowledge that a busy period is around the corner.
This is the watershed moment in our working year that occurs in September: when the holidays are over and everyone gears up for the return to work rested, refreshed, with a ‘must do’ attitude.
For the past two years, the September has been the busiest month overall for Moneypenny call handling. The busy lines strongly suggest that the law firms which use them are heavily leaning on their telephone answering service or outsourced switchboard during these demanding times. It stands to reason.
A firm’s frazzled secretarial staff are already rushed off their feet with their duties and a reception full of visiting clients, without the additional headache of the phone ringing off the hook. But it also suggests that many firms don’t have the necessary additional resources to handle a surge in calls, and are at a disadvantage in terms of handling clients’ queries and new business enquiries by simply being too busy to answer these additional calls.
The effect this has on a firm’s customer service – and its reputation for client handling – cannot be underplayed.
Not only do people throw themselves back in work, but over the summer many have also had time to digest their lives and living arrangements. Time spent in close proximity has a habit of making reality seem a very strange place. And those who have reflected are now ready to put their decisions into practice. And the first step is to call their law firm.
Great news for growth. But this is where many firms have their back foot firmly on the floor. A lot of new business is lost by firms that haven’t got the appropriate staffing support in place to deal with this increase in activity and enquiries.
The good news for law firms is that, for the most part, everyone is in the same boat. It’s a busy time across the board, and customer service levels will be under the microscope.
It’s the wise law firm that takes this opportunity to stand out against its competitors. Prospective clients won’t care that you’re busy. Their only care is that of their needs, and won’t take kindly to having their enquiry mishandled, unanswered or passed from pillar to post.
The simple act of increasing the number of calls answered, whilst freeing up front-of-house staff to concentrate on clients visiting the offices during the busy September can have a dramatic impact on the whole firm.
Additional business won and well-handled from the start won’t be turned down by any firm. But as with any busy period, preparation is key. And if nothing else, will help staff as they reminisce about the holidays.