Why Legal Intake Is Important
To convert leads into paying clients, attorneys should evaluate the strength of their intake process. Whether you are a sole practitioner, boutique firm, or if you are a large firm with many locations, you probably are spending money on marketing. If you are paying for billboards, ads, or are investing in digital marketing, it is critical that you have an efficient process for responding to phone calls. You should also be on top of leads from contact forms and live chat on your website. Proper intake can help you track your marketing expenses and see what is working for your practice.
Have you ever wondered what the potential client experience is like when they call your law firm? How well does your staff answer questions, transfer calls to the right person, and provide excellent customer service to people who call you? How quickly do your attorneys return phone calls or respond to emails? Is anyone tracking which marketing efforts drove these leads to you?
These questions and more form the basis for evaluating your intake process. Successful firms have realized that by investing in their intake, they are better organized and can provide superior service to everyone who reaches out to them for help. This is one of the most important functions for signing up new clients, and it is worth evaluating and testing. The following are a few key tips for making your intake efforts more effective.
Hire Dedicated Team Members
It is a good idea to hire professionals to handle the client-facing intake process, rather than relying on the paralegals and lawyers in your firm to handle responding to phone calls and web-inquiries. With so much on their plates already, people who have critical duties and need to be working on cases might let intake fall behind. Instead, consider hiring individuals whose sole purpose at your firm is to answer the phone and vet prospective clients. Train them to ask leading questions to get the information your legal team needs to know.
First impressions are important, and you want to make sure to immediately respond to someone who is reaching out to discuss a case. By investing in professionals whose sole job is to be responsive to phone, email, and web leads, you can rest easier knowing that you are delivering this vital service.
You need to train your intake team so that they understand legal terminology and your particular practice area. They should be familiar with attorney/client privilege and know how to avoid violating it by accident. They should know how your practice operates and if you provide free consultations. Finally, the team should be able to handle calls from current clients and field questions themselves or transfer them to the right person.
Focus on Responsiveness
One of the easiest ways to lose a prospective client is to fail to answer their call or respond quickly. Sending people to voicemail or failing to call back immediately means they will likely move on and contact another firm. Instead of letting this happen, you should set up your phone systems so that clients will always reach a live person. You want to greet them and discuss their situation. Some practices like to send calls directly to an attorney’s cell phone. If your firm does this, consider whether the attorney will be able to answer calls and keep track of leads this way.
It is also a good idea to train your internal team on proper phone etiquette. You should answer calls quickly and try not to let the phone ring more than two or three times before responding. No one wants to sit on the other end waiting forever for someone to pick up! Once a potential client is on the phone, try not to put them on hold for long periods of time.
When it comes to email leads or leads that come through live chat or lead generation services, responsiveness should again be the primary focus. Have your team follow up to make sure the prospective client knows that you are ready and willing to discuss their case with them.
Tracking is Key
Now you have the right team members in place and a suitable process in place for handling the leads that are coming in. The next step is to make sure that your system for tracking the leads is efficient and effective. A well-structured intake system will help you keep track of qualified leads. It will monitor the money that you’ve spent on your marketing efforts and will let you measure how successful your closing rates are. It’s a good idea to set up a management system that will track your contacts, information about their case, and how they discovered your firm.
Once you have efficient tracking systems in place, your attorneys can follow up on leads and bring in new cases. Your marketing team can focus on effective channels and can stop spending money on channels that are not working for you. A good intake system should help you be much more efficient at growing your practice while spending money wisely.
Invest in Intake
If your firm is spending money on marketing but has not invested in intake, you may be wasting money. Even worse, you may not be providing the highest level of service to potential clients. Your reputation in the community is important to you, and you want to always project a competent and professional demeanor as a firm. A proper intake system can help you ensure this and more.
Firms can choose to manage all their intake efforts in-house, or they may opt to have professional intake services help with some or all of the essential components. Essential intake services include inbound calling services, after-hours phone services, live chat, and others. However you choose to handle your intake, if you make sure that it is well-organized and efficient, you can rest easier knowing that your prospective clients are being cared for.