When I consult for firms, no matter what the initial purpose of the consultation, I usually find that they are not maximizing the results of their marketing. Most are not as egregious as that of a client that I recently helped. This attorney was concerned that he was not getting enough clients from his new television ads in spite of some kick-ass commercials. I can complement the commercials since I wrote them.
I had the firm record every call that came in from the ads. The problems were incredible.
- Problem one:The firm policy was to have a person who was at best moderately trained screen the call to determine if they wanted to represent the caller
- If the caller was approved by that screener they would be called back by an attorney.
- In the two hours I sat in the call center cases that were going to be rejected ultimately settled for $84,000.
- The next problem was that 25% of the prospects were not there when called back by an attorney or intake specialist.
- Problem two: One of the screeners sounded as if the people were lucky to have someone to talk to.
- She acted too busy to spend much time talking with them.
- She sounded as if every caller was lying and she was going to catch them.
- Problem three: Anywhere from 40% to 70% of the calls went to voice mail.
- 80% of them hung up.
- When the hang-ups were called back they were not interested or had already found an attorney.
The next issue is firm owners who trust non-attorneys or associates to determine who the firm will not represent. This may be a good policy but not without occasionally calling some of the people who were rejected to determine if the correct decision was made, that they were spoken to with respect and were satisfied with the reasons given for not being represented. If intake calls are recorded it is incumbent upon the firm owner to listen to some of the calls by each of the people doing intake. Determine the quality of work being done by the people making the first impression on prospective clients.
The people answering your phones and screening the new clients are the face of your firm. When they reject callers with good cases it is your wallet that is thinner. When they do not treat the caller with the proper kindness and respect, that person my find a different attorney and you miss out on a client with a good case.
Intake is huge. You have three seconds to make a good first impression. All but one firm I have consulted for. For various reasons, has let good clients slip away. Look at your procedures carefully to make sure your firm signs up the clients you want.