Is your firm failing to grow at the rate you desire? Well, before embarking on another failed and expensive marketing campaign, it may be time to look inward. What many legal professionals fail to realize is that relationships with new clients are often made or broken during the very first interaction. Whether that interaction comes through a phone call or a visit to your website, making a positive first impression is essential for converting leads into paying clients.
So if you’re getting enough leads, but those leads aren’t converting at a high rate, there’s a good chance the way you’re handling them could be the problem. In order to ensure you always make a strong first impression on new clients, you should optimize your intake process to improve communication and maintain a personal touch throughout the process. Here’s how you can do that by combining a virtual receptionist service along with CRM software.
The Importance of Legal Intake to Building a Strong Client Relationship
For those unfamiliar with the term, legal intake is the process of collecting a new client’s personal and case information. It is typically performed by a representative of your firm over the phone or via an intake form that’s filled out by the client.
Legal intake seems pretty simple, which is probably why it’s so often overlooked by those running law firms. Law practices are often quite sloppy and unprepared when it comes to their legal intake because they lack an established process. As a result, they may fail to ask the right questions, do a poor job of recording client information, or forget to follow up altogether and lose an otherwise viable client.
Think about all the time and money you put into marketing and generating new leads. Now imagine those leads almost instantly going to waste, all because a faulty legal intake process has you failing to capture them. Growing law firms can’t afford for that to happen!
You won’t be able to win over new clients who are turned off by an unimpressive legal intake process, and without new clients you won’t be able to turn a profit. Instead you’ll watch those leads you’ve generated head straight towards your competitors who are doing legal intake the right way.
Legal intake is the lifeblood of your firm because it is your sales process. It needs to be taken seriously. Read on to find out how you can improve your intake process with a virtual receptionist service and the help of CRM software.
Perfecting Legal Intake Over The Phone
Statistics show that potential customers who make it to your website will end up contacting your law office by phone 74% of the time! This is why even in the digital age, your office’s call handling process is still of the utmost of importance.
Here is where most law offices go wrong with their over-the-phone legal intake:
- Lawyers don’t have sufficient receptionist coverage, and spend too much of their own time answering calls from new clients, rather than getting billable work accomplished.
- Lawyers are using an in-house receptionist who is not properly trained at performing legal intake, and therefore not communicating properly, failing to capture leads, or making other mistakes that costs the firm business..
- Lawyers are too busy to answer calls, or receiving a large number of calls outside of their normal office hours, and therefore missing out on new client opportunities.
All of these issues can cause a law firm’s growth to stagnate. So how do firms go about solving these phone answering issues?
Use a virtual receptionist to optimize your over-the-phone legal intake process
One of the primary benefits of teaming up with a legal-specific virtual answering service is that the receptionists have been trained specifically to handle calls for law offices.
For example, a service such as Answering Legal has a team of legal intake receptionists who will answer any calls a lawyer doesn’t have time to handle on a 24/7/365 basis. Before answering any of your client calls, they will have gone through extensive legal intake training. They know how to qualify a potential client, ask the right questions, and treat callers with courtesy and respect.
By taking your potential clients through a proper legal intake process over the phone, which will include going through a list of predetermined questions that have been created with the help of your firm, you’ll inspire a level of confidence in your customers that the average unspecialized receptionist or voicemail never could. The personal touch goes a long way toward building a long lasting and valuable client relationship.
So instead of getting stuck on the phone all day or missing important calls from potential clients, you can get back to your work while a team of phone answering professionals makes a positive first impression on prospective clients, and gets you the information you need to excel in your follow up meeting with them.
Tracking Legal Intakes with a CRM
Another issue many law offices experience regarding their legal intake process is the ability to track, follow up with, and convert potential clients into paying customers.
Here is where most law offices go wrong with their follow up and conversion process:
- Lawyers are too busy to follow up with potential clients, and they let potential business slip through the cracks when those people look for another, more responsive attorney.
- Lawyers don’t have a good system for storing potential client information, and instead they rely on Post-it notes, unread emails, or spreadsheets which are not reliable enough.
- Lawyers require clients to go through manual, cumbersome steps by filling out and signing paperwork, which can cause friction or create significant delays in the intake process.
There are a lot more steps to converting a lead into a paying client than just answering the phone, so how can you ensure that you don’t lose clients after the initial interaction?
Use CRM software to track potential clients and make the sign up process easy
CRM (customer relationship management) software is designed to help sales teams keep track of all their potential customers and ensure that nothing slips through the cracks.
By using a CRM for law firms that integrates with your virtual receptionist service, you can capture legal intake information taken down over the phone into a nice, organized database. This makes it very easy to keep track of all your legal intakes, and you can access the information from anywhere since it is stored in the cloud.
For example, Answering Legal has an integration with Lexicata so that every call from a potential client will be automatically logged in the “lead inbox.” Not only that, but the Lexicata CRM also includes other features such as automated email follow ups, online intake questionnaires, and e-signatures to streamline the client retention process.
When you use a CRM to track all of your potential clients, and make the lead follow up and conversion process as easy as possible for both you and your clients, you will ensure that you are capitalizing on all of the inquiries you receive and maximizing the chances that a call converts into a paying customer for your firm.
Doing this much work to perfect your legal intake process both over the phone and afterward may seem like overkill, but it is highly necessary for firms seeking to maximize their growth potential.
As we stated at the beginning of this piece, making a strong first impression on your clients is everything. Make sure your law firm is able to put forth a strong face on every platform people may reach you through, and use software to make the follow up process easy and effective. Doing so will improve communication and make your clients much more eager to do business with you, while making your life significantly easier at the same time.
By making small investments into a great legal answering service and legal CRM software system, you’ll see your client conversion rates rise significantly as your practice increases the number of leads it captures and converts into paying clients.
After sharpening his communications skills as a journalism major at Stony Brook University, Joe Galotti has transitioned into the world of legal blog writing. He currently serves as a marketing associate for the company, Answering Legal. You can see his weekly law office management and legal marketing insight on the Answering Legal blog site. Answering Legal is a phone answering company that caters its services exclusively to law firms. Its receptionist team provides live phone answering on a 24/7/365 basis, and has mastered the art of performing legal intakes.