We all understand that delivering great customer experience is important for businesses to attract leads and build client base. However, based on Clio's 2019 Legal Trends Report, attorneys fall short in delivering quality communications to clients. In a study done with 1,000 law firms, a majority of law firms suffer from poor email and voicemail response. Even though law firms are better at answering phone calls, they rarely return calls. And when they do get time to follow up, they don't provide enough information over the phone.
It is alarming that in Clio's report, among surveyed clients who have contacted a lawyer, 64% mentioned that the law firm they didn't end up hiring failed to respond to their phone or email. Clients have low expectation for law firms in general. This finding presents a gap between clients' expectations and what law firms think they can deliver. When firms are delivering substandard customer experience, they risk turning prospect clients away.
But the finding also presents an opportunity for you to work on making your intake process better. If you can run a streamlined client intake process that beats clients' expectation, that means your chance of getting hired is much higher than competing firms. So how can you improve your client intake process? There are two solutions that you can try.
1. Hiring a virtual legal receptionist
If you are a solo-attorney or runs a small law firm, answering phone calls during work hours can interrupt your workflow. When you are unable to respond to qualified leads' voicemails or follow up afterwards, you are losing opportunities to acquire clients for your practice.
Hiring an in-house legal receptionist seems to be the most obvious solution. But the cost can be expensive. On average, a full-time legal receptionist's annual salary is approximately $46,360 USD. When you take into account ancillary benefits such as health insurance and paid vacation, the cost can add up quickly. Moreover, there is opportunity cost in hiring, training and managing a receptionist. The more time spent on doing these administrative tasks, the less time you have to focus on client work.
An alternative solution is to hire a virtual legal receptionist. This solution offers several key benefits that might make it a more suitable choice for you.
- Cheaper pricing: Many legal virtual receptionist firms offer tiered pricing plans that satisfy the needs of law firms of different sizes. Back Office Betties is a boutique legal virtual receptionist firm whose plans range from Bronze ($299/month, 100 minutes) to Platinum ($1,599/month, unlimited minutes). If you go over the plan's limit in call minutes, they simply charge by minute for as low as $2.59 per minute. If you do the math, the cost of a virtual legal receptionist is much lower than an in-house receptionist. In addition, the monthly subscription-based payment model gives you the flexibility to change your plan easily so you are not locked in with a fixed cost.
- More Responsive: Legal virtual receptionists provide much better flexibility in responding to calls. Even if lead calls are coming in outside of office hours, they can be taken care of by the virtual receptionists. While some virtual receptionists can take incoming calls after business hours, some can even stand by 24/7 to make sure no calls are ever missed.
- Legal expertise: Unlike generic virtual receptionists, virtual legal receptionists are trained to understand legal terminology, process and software. For example, Back Office Betties has their own training program "Betties Legal Academy" that equips receptionists with essential foundation to communicate with clients professionally. Delivering quality experience to leads are more likely to win them over for your business.
2. Installing a scheduling tool on your website
Another alternative solution to improve your firm's onboarding customer experience is installing a scheduling tool on your website. Nearly 40% of all small law firms don't have websites. And of those firms who have websites, 70% do not have a call to action item on their homepage. As more people are finding information online, it is important for you to make it accessible and easy for leads to reach out to you.
An easy-to-use and reliable scheduling tool like CozyCal allows you to automate your firm's intake process so you can capture quality leads anytime and anywhere. By automating scheduling, you can reduce the risk of no-shows, customize your intake process and save a great amount of time in the long run.
- Capture leads right on your firm's website: You can create a customized and professional booking experience to capture potential clients. When you deliver an easy-to-use intake process that meets potential leads' expectation, you are more likely to retain them as your clients. Qualified leads can view your pre-set availabilities with one simple click to schedule free consultation sessions right away. This eliminates the painful back-and-forth calling and email tagging while you can manage all your appointments in one place.
- Collect information through intake form : Based on your appointment types, you can create customized intake form to collect key information from guests such as their full name, email, phone number and reason for consultation. The intake form information is saved automatically so you can always follow up with qualified leads later on.
- Powerful integrations for a streamlined scheduling: CozyCal provides a wide variety of integrations including Clio, Stripe, Google calendar and Microsoft 365 that connects scheduling with your existing workflows easily. If you are using Clio, the Clio integration allows you to sync with Clio's calendar in real-time, send information collected from intake form to Clio's calendar events, and automatically create new contacts in Clio.
- Save cost: If your budget doesn't allow you to hire someone else to manage appointments for you, a scheduling tool like CozyCal can save you a fairly-sized amount of money. Paying only $15 per month, you can automate your law firm's scheduling and have it onboard new leads 24/7. You only need to convert one captured lead to client a year to cover the cost of using CozyCal.
Whether you prefer to hire a legal virtual receptionist for the person-to-person interaction, or using a scheduling tool to automate intake process on your website, or even combining both solutions, the goal is the same: to leave a good first-impression on leads and provide stellar client experience even at the early stage of the business funnel. By adopting these solutions, you can become a more responsive firm that delivers quality communications in a timely manner. When you have a systematized intake process in place that goes above and beyond clients expectations, you will be able to capture more clients and grow your firm in the long run.