We know that attorneys are busy people. You're researching for cases, meeting with clients, drafting important documentation or contracts, filing paperwork with various agencies, appearing in court, and juggling a million other tasks that all need to be done right now. With all of that in mind, it's no wonder you can't answer the phone every time it rings. Even if you have others in the firm to help out, it's still highly likely that some phone calls from existing or potential clients are falling through the cracks.
You may be thinking that it is sufficient to simply respond to these inquiries later when you have a chance to check your voicemail. Unfortunately, there are heaps of research that show that relying on voicemail messages is killing your client acquisition and retention. Let's dive in.
Some people don't mind leaving voicemails, but those seeking legal help are typically looking for help right this very second. If they reach your voicemail, it is highly unlikely that they will even leave a message, let alone wait for someone from your firm to return their call. According to a 2011 American Express Survey, 67% of clients hang up without listening to or leaving a voicemail if they don't reach a live person on the first attempt. Furthermore, for those that do hang on long enough to hear your voicemail greeting, 72% still hang up without leaving a message. If no one is answering your phone, you're missing out on a TON of potential new business.
Phone Calls & Paid Marketing
If you're advertising online (Google AdWords, Facebook ads, etc.) and you're not picking up the phone, you're throwing away the money you've spent on these pay-per-click (PPC) ads. We cannot stress enough just how important it is to answer all of your phone calls if you're paying to market yourself online. If you don't, you're essentially investing in nothing.
Fortunately, there are a million affordable answering services out there that can reduce the number of hangups. There are even a bunch that provide services for attorneys specifically. So, how do you choose one? Look for a provider who offers everything you need regarding the following:
- 24/7 Service: Depending on your areas of practice, having someone to answer the phone at all times may be more or less pertinent. For example, a DUI lawyer would benefit from a service that answers calls throughout the night.
- Customizable Greetings: Make sure the provider lets you dictate exactly how you want them to answer calls for you. If they have a standard greeting you can't adjust, move on. After all, it's your brand that's at stake.
- Call Forwarding Options: We like answering services that let us choose how to send them calls. For example, do you want a rollover service that only picks up if you don't? Or, do you want to only have the answering service take calls after business hours? Are you a solo entrepreneur who would benefit from having the provider answer 100% of calls like a secretary would?
- Intake Method: Some answering services simply take messages, some answer limited questions, and others can perform the full intake process for new clients. Decide what you're most comfortable with, but we recommend finding a provider who can capture a new client by answering their questions and taking down all of their information.
- Free Trial: It's always best to see how an answering service really works before you get locked into a contract. This is especially true if they're going to handle your legal intake. Therefore, pick one that allows you to try out the service free of charge for a few days so you can evaluate how it's going.
- Good Reviews: Honestly, all companies claim to be the best on their websites. Be sure to check Google, Facebook, and Yelp reviews before proceeding with any answering service.
Customer Service is Paramount
Providing consistently good customer service is better for you and your clients. Being available to them as often as possible will boost their overall satisfaction and your bottom line. Seven out of ten people report being willing to spend more on any particular service if they experience excellent customer service. In fact, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated.
In short, this stuff really matters. Strive to be there for your clients as much as humanly possible and you'll see positive results.