Your intake process is the first important step in having a lead conversion system that delivers a steady stream of new clients to your firm. After all, the money you invest in generating leads will be wasted if calls to your firm go unanswered, unreturned or answered improperly.
In the years we’ve spent secret-shopping hundreds of law firms to gauge the effectiveness of their intake process, we’ve discovered that there are actually so few firms doing intake right that the firms doing things right have a true competitive advantage when it comes to turning calls into appointments.
Here are some best practices we teach firms at the Rainmaker Intake University, our intake training program for B2C law firms:
- Have a dedicated person answer the phone.We’ve been astounded by how many firms answer the phone in a way that left the distinct impression we were annoying them when we called, as if we were taking them away from another priority.
- Show compassion and empathy. Of the law firms we’ve shopped, only about 20% show empathy to callers. A simple, “I’m so sorry to hear about that. Are you OK?” can go a long way toward connecting with a potential client.
- Get the caller’s name and phone number at the beginning of the call in case you get cut off. If you do get cut off unexpectedly, then call them back immediately. Somewhere during the call you should also get their email address or at least permission to text them information after the call.
- If you send someone to your website, SPELL it out clearly. Many law firm website domain names are hard to spell or understand over a bad cell phone connection. Better yet, ask the caller for permission to text or email them a link to your website.
- Do what you say you are going to do when you say you will do it.Many firms say they will send information via email or mail and fail to do it. Have a process for sending follow-up emails immediately after a call.
- Do not answer the phone with a generic “law firm.”Clearly state the name of the law firm.
- If you are going to place someone on hold, always ask for his or her permission first.
- Write out 3-5 reasons that make your law firm different.Make certain anyone talking with prospects can recite these from memory and knows how to weave them into a call. Everyone, whether they verbalize it or not, wants to know the answer to, “Why should I hire you?”
- 9. Remember that people buy emotionally and justify logically, so the person on the phone must build an emotional relationship with the caller. This starts with expressing empathy for their plight.
- Have a dedicated personto return all voice mails within an hour or two of receiving them.
- Never make an attorney or paralegal responsible for following up with leads. Even though they may have the best of intentions, other things will take priority. Task a dedicated intake specialist with following up on leads and setting appointments.
- Never quote fees over the phone.The sole purpose of the call is to get qualified leads into your office for a consultation. You will always have a higher closing ratio if you meet prospects face to face rather than trying to sell them over the phone.