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Intakes and First Impressions: There Are No Second Chances

Establishing and managing a streamlined intake process separates good law firms from those that dominate. Not all firms are created equal. How well your firm executes the intake process will determine your level of success.

Lead Conversion Happens By Choice. Not By Chance.

If you’re looking for a contractor to perform renovations, you’ll speak to several to ascertain their background and experience. In legal, consumers evaluate firms in the same way. On average, consumers contact up to three law firms before making their final decision.

Lead conversion

Consumers want to hire a firm that they feel confident with and can trust, especially if the outcome may significantly impact their lives and livelihood.

Intakes are the lifeblood of a law firm. Attorneys and non-attorney staff must understand this to treat each opportunity as a top priority. One lost opportunity is one too many. Owners and managers of the law firm must set the tone for this philosophy.

If your law firm is not properly handling intakes, you are losing business. These guidelines will ensure your firm performs an effective and efficient intake.

First Impressions Matter

The intake staff at your firm IS the first impression, they have one chance to get it right. There are no retakes with intakes.

  • Accessible and Available. 24/7/365 with always-on after-hours service handling intakes.
  • Tone. Intake staff should speak clearly, concisely and with confidence. Have empathy when the situation necessitates.
  • Script-ready. Intake staff should obtain key information like name, address, and phone number, and ask key questions to quickly ascertain if the case is one that the firm would sign.
  • Listening is essential. Yet, intake screeners need to be able to control calls that get off track.
  • Practice area knowledge. Intake screeners need to possess foundational knowledge of case profiles that the law firm accepts.
  • The “break-up.” If the firm cannot take the case, how the call ends is just as important as how it started. Refer them to another firm, or provide them with a referral to the bar association.

Opportunity: It Only Calls Once. And It Doesn’t Wait On Hold.

Phone calls are one of the main ways prospects will get in touch with your firm. Here’s how to handle them effectively:

  • Answer all calls within a few rings.
  • Calls on hold or transferred should be for mere seconds as this leads to a higher “call abandonment” rate.
  • Avoid voicemail. Many callers will not leave a message and move on to the next firm.

Website Mistakes That You’ll Literally Be Paying For

When a prospect comes to your website and gets in touch with you, you need to be able to convert. Thus, there are more considerations when it comes to chat and website leads:

  • Website form inquiries (emails) and chats need a response within minutes during business hours and in a timely manner after hours.
  • Use Sherloq to see your leads in real time from your desktop or smartphone.
  • Emails and chats need the same attention as calls. If a lead comes in over the weekend and is a viable case, a firm staff member should promptly reach out.
  • Consider putting staff and attorneys on an “on-call” rotation during off-hours, making them available to the after-hours service.

If you’re buttoned up above, then use the following to make your intake excel.

  • Sign the prospect without breaking the initial contact. The immediacy of e-signature platforms results in a higher conversion rate if permitted in your jurisdiction. A follow-up in-person appointment is always an option as well to solidify the attorney/client relationship.
  • If the initial contact flow is broken, establish a follow-up cadence to ensure the sign-up happens shortly after the first contact was made.
  • Audit all calls handled by the intake team and the after-hours call service to ensure they are following the script and/or standard protocol established by the firm.
  • Perform regular training. Practice roleplaying to evaluate and improve the quality of your intake team.
  • Brief your after-hours call service. Take time to ensure the service is familiar with your practice areas, business hours and locations.
  • Incentivize your staff. Offer special recognition and prestige to staff who have demonstrated the necessary qualities to be entrusted with speaking to prospective clients.

Consumers have choices when it comes to legal services. You need to start with a quality intake if you want to stand out. Make sure you sign the case — work for yourself, not your competitor.

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