Whether you are a large corporate law firm or small personal injury firm, your intake process is often the first interaction potential clients have with your firm. In a competitive niche like legal services, first impressions matter. The first intake call can mean the difference in not only signing clients who find you online, but also word-of-mouth referrals, and reputation as a firm.
As long as your intake process is effective, it can help your law firm achieve your true ROI for your campaign, and help increase the amount of leads that convert to cases.
Most firms don’t even realize that a few things often get overlooked and even work against them when a prospect is looking for a attorney. By making common, unintentional mistakes, you’re telling clients that they aren’t important enough to call back, or minimizing their hurt when they are going through an already stressful and difficult time.
Make sure your firm is implementing these 5 steps to ensure your intake process is effective and improving your ROI.
1.) The Ability to Reach an Actual Person
We’ve all been there – calling for help only to hear a frustrating automated system or getting dumped into voicemails for weeks on end with no callbacks. Nothing is more frustrating and off-putting than spending 20 minutes on the phone without being able to reach an actual human being. When law firm prospects call your firm, they want to talk to a real person – and quickly.
Tip: If developing an after-hours schedule to have a firm employee answer the phones is not in your budget, then consider Alert Communications. They offer an after-hours service, and phones are answered by an actual person.
Because they are looking for legal help, your prospective clients are already going through some sort of distress or hardship. People want to know that their legal representation is going to care about them as a person and their situation. This starts with the receptionist at intake. Right from the initial call, if there is a lack of emotional sensitivity or empathy, your potential client is going to feel unheard, uncared for, and they will look for someone else who does care.
Tip: Consider developing a script (or multiple scripts) for incoming calls and training select staff to answer the the phones. This way you will feel confident that you know who is answering the calls and what is being said to the potential clients. Using intake forms to gather pertinent information is also incredibly helpful.
3.) Prompt Response Times
If an attorney or paralegal takes too long to respond to an email, phone call, or voicemail, or even just doesn’t deliver case updates every so often, clients get pretty put-off. Firms take at least three days to respond to inquiries 42% of the time. People don’t want to wait three days for answers to their questions, to tell their story, or get an update on their case. When a potential client is calling the firm, they want to feel like their case is going to be a priority to the attorney.
Tip: Attorneys have very busy schedules and often more-pressing things come up. Task a staff person with lead follow-up and appointment setting. Also consider having a dedicated person who returns all voicemails the same day.
4.) Lead Tracking
Leads and calls come in from various sources, such as phone calls, email, and live chats. But if you are not keeping track of all of this information in one central location, then chances are information is being lost. Sure, a GoogleSheet or Excel Spreadsheet may serve you well, but if you do not have Customer Relationship Management software in place, it may be time to implement one. By storing all of your prospects and clients into your CRM, you are able move them through the pipeline, keep them organized, and ensure they are followed-up on.
Tip: You can use CRMs to set reminders, send automated follow-up emails, and track correspondence, taking the guesswork out of the process.
5.) Lead Nurturing and Follow-Up
Clients need to feel important, like they are more than just another case file. Even after talking to a client during the initial intake, your firm should still follow up to see if they have any other questions. Are they interested in setting an appointment? Even after the case is closed, still following up about their status, experience, case, etc., can go a long way when they are giving word-of-mouth referrals to friends and coworkers.
Tip: Using your CRM it is easy to keep things up-to-date and never let anything fall through the cracks. You can schedule follow-up emails in advance for multiple clients and track progress along the way.
Intake often gets overlooked and written off as a lesser part of the business, but intake is serious business. Without effective intake and proper notes, you never know the true return you’re getting. You also miss out on knowing where your opportunities for improvement are. You can learn a lot from each prospective client who calls in, even if it’s a case that isn’t in your practice area. Invest in your intake system and watch your return on investment improve as more cases flow in.