Do you have too many leads calling into your law firm, which is leading to you and your staff feeling overwhelmed? This sounds like every lawyers dream, huh?

The truth of the matter is, that regardless of if you have 5 people calling into your office every day or 500, your law firm’s phone intake system is one of the most pivotal and important systems that you must build for your law firm. 

More leads that are being filtered into a disorganized phone intake system for your law firm isn’t going to do anyone any good. Your potential clients are going to feel as though their unique needs aren’t being met or carefully vetted. This will lead them to feel frustrated and search for other options. Your staff is going to feel overwhelmed by the “caught off-guardness” of a lead calling into your office, that they will potentially mishandle the case and end up feeling stressed. Then, you won’t be signing up as many cases and you’ll scramble to make ends meet. 

Getting your law firms phone intake system in check is a necessary evil. Whether you are just starting out, and building your law firm from the ground up or you are a seasoned law firm. Taking a careful look at your phone intake system, and the first “touches” and conversations that potential clients have with your law firm is crucial.

What Is A Law Firm Phone Intake System?

A phone intake system is often referred to as a “Client Intake System”. It is the sum of all actions taken to convert a prospective lead into a paying client for your law firm. The function of a phone intake system is to systematically capture all of the pertinent information required to evaluate and sign up a legal client.

Phone Intake Tip #1: Have A Uniform Online Brand

Your intake process starts before a potential client even calls you. It starts with your online presence and the brand that you’ve created through social media, billboard, radio ads, print ads, etc. If you have a vanity phone number (example: 1-800-CALL-MIKE), that is all apart of your phone intake process!

If you recently spoke at a networking event or industry convention, that’s all apart of your phone intake process! Essentially, your law firm’s phone intake system and process begins the moment that someone comes into contact with your firm. It’s important that you think through all of these things when deciding on what your law firm’s phone intake process will look like.

Phone Intake Tip #2: Controlling The Phone Call

When someone is calling a law firm, most times they are going through a stressful time in their lives. Whether that’s a divorce, a car accident, a work injury or they’re even dealing with the death of a loved one due to medical malpractice. It’s important to remember the emotional states of your potential leads. Usually, calling a lawyer isn’t a happy or celebrated thing. It generally means that that individual has found themselves in some sort of situation, or trouble, and they need legal representation.

It’s important to train your “front of the firm” staff (receptionists, secretaries, assistants) to speak with calm empathy. While this may seem like an easy task, being able to convey warmth through the tone of ones voice is an extremely important skill. Your front of the firm staff are the first “touch point” that they have with your practice. Being able to build rapport and connection through that initial “touch point” is crucial.

First Responder Advantage

Every single phone call that comes into your office should be answered within the first four rings. If you can’t have someone operate the phones during the evening or weekends, hire a phone answering service. Or, at the very minimum – create a clear and concise voicemail for your potential leads and clients to leave you pertinent information.

If you don’t pick up your phone within the first four rings, that lead is onto the next law firm down the line. The most important component is the response time. Do not wait hours or even days to call your leads back. In most cases, they will have probably signed up with another law firm.

Differentiate Your Law Firm

Don’t treat your potential leads as a done-deal and signed up case! In today’s internet age, the ball is in their court. There are more lawyers and firms for them to call then not. If they can’t see a clear picture as to what makes your law firm unique, chances are they will just view you as another name down the Google list.

You must sell the person on the other line as to why they should choose you and not any other firm. Let’s face it – legal marketing is expensive and competitive. There is only so much wiggle room in each geographic market. Treat your leads as if they are all the most important phone call you’ve received that day. Sell your leads on what makes you unique.

Have A Solidified Script

One of the easiest ways to create a predictable experience for your law firm’s phone intake system is to create a script, and hand it off to your “front of firm” staff. The script should include: Introduction / Greeting, Qualifying Questions, Appointment Setting or Contract Confirmation.

If you have a script that you know with certainty will be read to each lead that calls into your law firm, you’ve already done better than 70% of your competitors. You never want to leave something up to chance or fate. Your law firm’s phone intake process shouldn’t depend on how upbeat or organized your receptionist is feeling that day.

Use Video/Virtual Consultations.

COVID-19 was a wake up call to lawyers all across the nation in more than one way. While some law firms were able to continue working “business as usual”, others had a huge realization that their practices were living in the dinosaur ages.

A lot of law firms were not able to “up and move”, and continue serving their clients because all of their documents were stored in hard copies in the office. Some law firms had on idea how to use software such as DocuSign or Zoom for virtual consultations.

It is 2020, the internet is NOT going anywhere. It’s time to start using the tools that are out there. So many lawyers and law firms waste time going back and forth, leaving voicemails, etc. Pick up the phone, send a video follow up to your leads. This will help build trust and rapport with them. Additionally, you can start offering virtual consultations. Society today is “go, go, go” and someone having to take time out of their schedule to come down to your office for an in-person consultation may be a hinderance to them signing up with your law firm.

Phone Intake Tip #3: Use Electronic Signatures

If you are a lawyer, and are not yet using electronic signature software such as DocuSign, PandaDoc or any of the legal-specific ones out there… You are wasting countless hours going back and forth. It’s time to leave the antiquated law firm practices behind. It’s time to modernize and adapt with the times.

The truth of the matter is, people will happily sign any documents by using an electronic signature software. It cuts down on time and effort for them. Instead of having to print something out, or wait for it to come int he mail, they are able to easily and conveniently review the documents instantly after you send them, offer feedback and/or sign.

It’s time to bring your law practice into the modern age. There are so many softwares out there that will cut down on the headache and time that it takes for you to turn a lead into a signed and retained legal client.

Phone Intake Tip #4: Follow Up

80% of sales happen between the 5th and 12th contact. Yes, you read that correctly. It takes AT LEAST 5 touch points for the majority of leads to sign a contract. One of the biggest gaping holes that we see in lawyer’s phone intake and sales process is lack of systems for follow up.

Whether it’s you doing the follow up, a paralegal or someone from your intake staff – you need to make sure that you are staying top of mind and the obvious choice because of how much you care for your clients.