Law firms are still failing to respond to customer enquiries properly, with a mystery shopper survey showing a “dismally poor” performance in respect of follow-up calls, a report has found.
It said just 1.5% of calls were followed up; the lowest figure recorded in five years.
For the fifth year, cloud telephony provider Concert commissioned researchers Shopper Anonymous to call 30 consumer law firms on three separate occasions to secure a quotation for will writing, debt recovery, or residential property work.
The Legal communications report  found that just 51% of inbound calls – considered ‘low-hanging fruit’ or ‘easy pickings’ by marketing professionals – were put through to someone who could help. Last year’s figure was 82%.
However, residential property teams were noticeably better at redirecting calls to personnel who could help – three-quarters of calls compared to one-third relating to debt recovery – showing a wide range in performance between work types.
One area where findings improved significantly from 2017 was average time potential customers were put on hold – down to 28.5 seconds on average from 44 seconds last year.
But the report said firms often took a chance that callers would call back: “It was surprising that the onus was put on us to ring back rather than getting a member of the firm to ring us.
“In today’s competitive marketplace, why wouldn’t you want to stay in control of your incoming enquiries?”
Follow-up calls were assessed on the basis of how the initial call had progressed. Of the total 90 calls made by researchers, 68 were eligible for a follow-up. But just one such call was received.
This response was “dismally poor”, the report said.
There was also evidence that firms were continuing a negative trend observed last year of failing to record callers’ details faithfully – a standard practice in the commercial world.
Contact details were taken on just 25.5% of calls. The number had already deteriorated from 59% in 2016 to 36% in 2017.
The report said: “Putting it bluntly, you can’t follow up if you don’t know who’s called.”
Again, residential property teams performed markedly better than other departments.
The report acknowledged that there had been individual examples of best practice, including what it described as “perfect calls”, which had been answered well.
But it concluded that progress had been “disappointing”, adding: “Unfortunately, it seems to have been a case of one foot forward and two feet back.”