The bulk of your time goes to communications. You’re a lawyer: clients have questions, potential clients have questions, and your continued success depends on your responsiveness.
Speaking of success, communications is your client capture, this is when your leads could become clients… or not.
2 out of 3 potential clients say their decision to hire is most influenced by an attorney’s responsiveness to their first call or email.
The Initial Contact: First Impressions Last
Communications set the stage on how it will be to work with your firm. The initial contact sets your clients’ expectations for how you will be as their lawyer.
It’s your firm’s responsibility to make the initial contact an accurate representation of how things are when clients hire you: how great you are at answering phone calls, at customer service and support. You’re a lawyer but you’re also running a business. First impressions really count.
So it’s not just about picking up the phone, it’s also about being friendly and warm, really taking care of the person on the end of the line, who probably has a lot of worry and stress over their legal concern. The reason we put so much emphasis on being responsive and being in the moment with your prospects is that when people have a legal matter, it’s heavy on their mind.
Reviews and Referrals Don’t Matter
Prospects want to secure a lawyer for their legal matter. They’ll look for reviews, and referrals might lead them to you. When they leave you a voicemail or send you an email, they have no idea when they’ll hear back. After a certain amount of time, they’ll move on to looking for another attorney, because until you answer the call or email, they have no idea how great it might be to work with you.
No matter the glowing reviews and referrals, if you’re not responsive, that signals the start of a bad experience.
Their First Experience With a Lawyer
I always come back to experience. Customer experience.
In so many attorney’s groups, I often see people say this about their callers, “They call and want information for free. We don’t do that. They get mad that they have to pay for a consult.” And lawyers and legal assistants are indignant about this.
It adds to the stigma of phone calls being a painful chore for law firms. Consequently, this is reflected in many law firms’ customer service and the way they treat someone on the phone. They’re impatient that these people don’t understand that they have to pay for consults, that they can’t be given answers on the phone.
What I say to that is they don’t know. Most people have not worked with an attorney before! I don’t know if this is true across all different types of legal practice, but the majority of my clients had never worked with an attorney prior to calling me.
They don’t know what to expect. So we need to help educate them kindly, to explain how we work and why we work that way. No matter what your legal expertise is, your callers have a legal matter that they need help with, and they’re nervous. They took a huge leap of faith calling you.
They recognize that they need a lawyer and that their problem can be solved, but they have so many doubts running in their heads: Is this lawyer going to steal my money? Is this firm going to be too expensive?
These are the thoughts running through your prospects’ minds. So I always say when it comes to answering phones or following up any sort of lead that comes to your firm, you really want to make sure you’re honoring that experience, of assuring that fear, and communicating from an understanding that they don’t know what to expect.
Setting Up Your Communications for Success
The most important thing is to set expectations early on. As we’ve said, people don’t know what to expect, so let them know what they can expect.
Give them information about the next steps to take, or where they can see updates on their case.
Picking up the phone:
- Get dedicated staff or a receptionist service to answer your phones and handle queries.
- Use a script for what your caller can do next:
- Scheduling a callback
- To learn about their case/their story
- To give them information about your fees/services, etc
- To give them information about where to send any documents
- Setting up a paid consult
- Scheduling a callback
- Get auto-responders to send immediate replies to every email
- To assure them you have received their email
- To let them know your SOP on responding to emails (e.g., you can let them know that you look at your emails twice a day, and if their email is urgent, they can call a certain number instead).
- To give them links to your information packets or your case management system portals, etc.
As you can see, these points give your callers and potential clients information and assurance on how they’ll be treated when they work with you.
Operate as if your callers need you, not in the way many firms do, in that they don’t answer their phones because 50% are spam. Your staff can answer and drop those calls in less than 10 seconds!
Your callers need you, and your firm deserves better. A phone system is $25 a month, and a receptionist service is at $70 a month. Remember your mindset: when you say excuses like you can’t afford a phone answering system or a receptionist service, that’s already defeatist and you’re hindering your own growth.
If you can believe it, I have even more knowledge to share on this topic! If you’d like to learn more about effective communication, sign up for my Six Figure Solo program! Six Figure Solo now comes in three tiers – Executive, Solopreneur, and CEO. Sign up here!