Legal services ‘on demand’. How to prevent new enquiry leakage?

Person making an enquiry - ImageClients can rarely tell the difference between most law firms. Solicitors usually offer the same services at similar prices and therefore it’s difficult for clients to know who they should sign up with. Every firm puts the ‘client at the centre of everything thing they do’ and offers ‘specialist’ and ‘quality’ advice. So, how do you grab potential clients’ attention before your competitors snap them up?

Your first and most fundamental step is to make sure your marketing activity has clear calls to action – e.g. encouraging prospective clients to pick up the phone or make an email enquiry. How then do you get clients signing up rather than ‘going away to think about it’? Well, there are a quite a few things I’ve learned over the years!

It may be the first time a client has used a solicitor or at least the first time they have needed one in a particular area of expertise. They tend to be completely in the dark in terms of the law and need someone to help and guide them through their concerns.

In the main, two out of three individuals looking for legal advice will pick up the phone, rather than send an email about their problem. This means that you’ll need your phone lines to be open around the clock to capture the most amount of leads. We now live in an on-demand culture, where the likes of Amazon are trialling drone deliveries in a matter of hours and you can pay to ‘visit’ a doctor remotely – instantly via a mobile app! You don’t need to work 24-7 but a lot of potential clients want to phone when it’s convenient for them, perhaps after work or at the weekend.

During a working week, most firms have a receptionist dealing with initial enquiries, but what happens when they are already on a call? Does the phone trip to the accounts department or bounce around the office? Once a call gets through, how often does the individual get to speak to a solicitor or will they get a ‘phone call back’? What initial details are taken and how can you ensure the client doesn’t shop around? Are you checking that the client is actually receiving a callback and how quick is the response time? What happens when you call back and reach their voicemail, how many times will you try to reach them over the next few days? When a call comes in at 5pm on a Friday, do they get to speak to anyone until midday on Monday?

Most firms I speak to haven’t trained the first person that potential clients speak to in what areas of law they do; who handles what in the firm; which locations they cover; what questions to ask; basic sales skills; and when to get to someone senior on the phone immediately because of a big new potential case!

Do you monitor and track your enquiries, so you know how you are performing and where there is leakage?

In my experience, a lot of firms treat calls as an administrative task and a distraction to fee earning. The good thing is that this means there is a huge opportunity for firms to get a competitive advantage in this area. As we all know, first impressions really do count!

How you handle that first initial touch point with a caller makes all the difference between your firm and the others. You have to deliver that ‘client centred approach’ over the phone on the initial enquiry and the potential client has to feel that you are actually interested in them.

These things are often bundled into the term ‘soft skills’, but if they make the difference between more work and potentially better profits, then it doesn’t matter what you call them!

These skills are the basis of how we structure most of our business transactions on a day-to-day basis. For example, they are the reason we go back to the same restaurants. Think about it, how many times have you not gone back to a restaurant which had good food, but the service was awful? We’ve all been there; bad service puts us off, but we tend to forget these things when it comes to the serious world of law.

People don’t want to deal with robots; so, if you have scripts which ask financial, transactional and factual information – like you are filling in a form – then your potential clients will not get the feeling that you are actually interested in them. Do you have a guided conversation with the client or are you purely ticking boxes? At what point does the client feel safe and assured they have made the right decision to call your firm? How do you build trust that you actually want to listen to them without being on the phone for hours? Well, you need to work on controlling the conversation and making the caller feel at ease. It’s all about those feelings!

A call doesn’t have to just deal with the law, speak to the person on the other end of the phone as a fellow human being. We have all learned in business that just getting on with people is half the battle and communication and delivering what is promised is the other half. Everything in between you already know, or can soon find out.

Once a client feels you are interested in them and can help, it makes it easier to sign them up, discuss fees and book an appointment.

Most complaints or grumbles from clients are purely about communication, whether it be an explanation of fees, not being updated or a slow response time. Clients expect you to get the law right and therefore it’s all the other things they are judging you on.

There is a big opportunity for firms in the UK to improve their call handling strategy and with so much being spent on bringing in leads, what is your firm doing to convert them?

If you would like to have a discussion about reviewing the way your law firm acquires and handles new enquiries, contact either: Dez Derry or Rob Macfarlane on 0161 452 0311