A phone call is often the first interaction people have with your firm and it sets the psychological tone and perception of the firm. “Unfortunately, many law firms consistently discount the value of a live person answering their law firm’s phone even if not intentionally,” writes Susan Cartier Liebel in a recent blog post for Solo Practice University. “[T]hose first 30 seconds of a call to your law firm can heavily influence the experience and ultimately the outcome of their contact with you.”
Liebel says that small firms starting out may have to rely on voice mail, Google voice or other types of electronic services as a substitute, but they should graduate to a live person as soon as possible. She points to a survey by Dimensional Research that 90 percent of customers say buying decisions are influenced by online reviews. Importantly, when asked what made the customer service interaction bad, 72 percent of respondents said they had to explain their problem to multiple people and 67 percent said the person they dealt with was unpleasant.
Liebel contends that the first 30 seconds of the call establish the:
- Competence level of the lawyer/law firm
- Caller’s reaction to psychological triggers created by your law firm
- Trust that carries through the life cycle of your attorney/client relationship
If it’s impractical for your firm to have a person or persons dedicated to answering phones, you might try a service that offers “virtual receptionists,” who pick up the phone offsite and connect callers with you or forward messages when you’re not available. Liebel recommends one such outfit, Ruby Receptionists. While we’ve never tried Ruby and can’t vouch for its claims that its “cheerful live virtual receptionists create meaningful connections with your callers and add sparkle to your image,” it may be better than voicemail. Other firms of this type include My Receptionist, Gabbyville and LEXReception. For more choices, search for “virtual receptionist.”
To read Liebel’s full blog post, click here.