The Most Effective Options for Answering a Phone Inquiry to Your Law Firm
There are several ways consumer law firms may answer the phone when potential new clients call. Here is a ranking of how effective each are at establishing the rapport with a potential new client that ultimately results in a new case for your firm.
1. You, the attorney, answer the phone
Prospects prefer to speak directly with an attorney when they call. They have questions, you have answers. When you answer the phone, prospects gain confidence in you and your responsiveness. If you answer the phone, you have already primed them to hire your firm over other firms — especially if you are the only attorney they speak to when initially reaching out to law firms.
2. A knowledgeable staff member, such as another attorney, paralegal or trained marketing person answers the phone
Obviously it’s not practical for you, the attorney, to answer every call your firm receives. And when you can’t, the next best option is to have another attorney, a paralegal or trained marketing person answer in lieu of you. Their goal should be to set an initial consultation appointment between the prospect and you, the attorney, not to answer legal questions in the initial call (unless of course it is another attorney from your office taking the call). If possible, the knowlegeable staff member can also ask the caller qualifying questions to find out if the prospect truly qualifies to file prior to setting up the full consultation.
3. Your receptionist answers
Most law firms send all incoming calls to a live receptionist. While this staff member will not be able to answer initial legal questions, he or she will be able to set up a consult appointment for the prospect to meet with you. Live reception answering is always preferable to voicemail or answering services, as prospects may not feel comfortable pursuing an appointment with your firm unless they speak directly to a staff member of the firm first. Make sure your receptionist gets the caller’s name and phone number before transferring the call, in case the call gets dropped or disconnected.
4. Your personal voicemail system answers
When a live staff person, or yourself, is not available, the next best choice is to direct incoming calls to your personal voicemail. This tells the prospect that you believe their call is important, they have your personal attention, you will personally see to it that their call is returned promptly.
5. An answering service answers the call
Answering services often can not set appointments and typically only take messages. While better than a general law firm voicemail system, they at least assure that each call is answered and that a message is taken for a staff member to return the prospect’s call. This is especially helpful on weekends and after hours.
6. Your law firm’s voicemail answers
If no live person answers the prospect’s incoming call, bankruptcy prospects frequently prefer to hang up rather than leave a message on your firm’s voicemail system. At LeadQ, we see more hangups than messages left when new prospects reach a voicemail system. As discussed in Item 4 above, if a live person is not available to answer an incoming call, it is preferable to send the caller to the attorney’s personal voicemail than a general voicemail system for the firm. This significantly increases the percentage of messages left versus hangups. And hangups usually result in the prospect calling a competitive law firm.
To increase the chances that an incoming call will be answered by a live person at your firm — and not sent to voicemail — consider setting multiple phones to ring and setting an extended number of rings before the call goes to voicemail. This allows any number of available staff to answer calls, assuring that virtually every caller will speak directly to a live person.
Some of the most successful attorneys that we generate client inquiries for will answer virtually every incoming inquiry call personally, even if they do not have time to speak with the prospect. LeadQ campaigns can send new inquiries directly to a specific number or multiple numbers, rather than simply a general law firm business number. By answering every call from the campaign, attorneys can assure that they will not lose a potential client, and if they do not have time to speak with him or her, simply arrange to call the prospect back at a convenient time.