By Neil Rose, Editor, Legal Futures
As a journalist, one is often inveigled into meeting all sorts of people who want to sell stuff to lawyers. I generally don’t mind this, as I am able to find almost anything at least a little bit interesting when I set my mind to it. Plus the hot chocolate in the Law Society’s reading room is surprisingly good.
This was put to the test recently when I was asked to spare half an hour to meet up with the good folk of CallCare, who provide 24-hour outsourced call-handling services to various industries, including law.
Excited about it as they were, operating a switchboard does not strike one as the most riveting of jobs. Outsourcing it works as you might expect – CallCare has a big call centre in Manchester, and the IT recognises which number is being called and pops up the appropriate script and contacts on the telephonist’s screen. The vast majority of calls are answered within 10 seconds.
CallCare says it mainly works with large law firms – because no doubt it saves money – but the thought that meeting them set off was that, actually, it is small firms that could really do with a service like this. Not for financial reasons, but so as to improve their service in a small but significant way. I have learnt the hard way over the years that if you are up against a deadline and need to contact a regional law firm after 5pm, you are stuffed, because the answer-phone goes on as the clock strikes.
And, remarkably, one still comes across law firms which close at lunchtime, the only part of the day when some potential clients might have the chance to give them a quick call. How many clients do law firms lose because they haven’t answered the phone?
I suspect that for a lot of firms, this is not an issue that really crosses their minds. But it is one area where consumer-focused brands that may be eyeing up the legal market already have the systems and mindset in place. And once you give it a bit of thought, how sensible it seems to have at least a human call-answering service – because it is harder not to leave a message with a cheerful Mancunion on the end than with an answerphone – and especially one that is available when your office is closed.
Co-operative Legal Services, by the way, is open 8-8 Monday to Friday, and 9-1 on Saturdays.
(One postscript to meeting CallCare. The one question that enthusiastic director Rasik Kotecha could not answer was which law firms are clients. This was because none wanted to admit publicly to having their calls answered this way. How very odd. Law firms are falling over themselves to talk about outsourcing legal work to India, South Africa and other exotic places, and yet are shy of admitting that someone in Manchester is directing their telephone calls.)