Monday, April 6, 2009

Practical Practice Tips. Make Sure That First Call Isn't The Last Call.

Please hold dude...... Sometimes it's the little things that matter. Some of this may simply be common sense, but you would be surprised at how many attorneys don't even consider these things. Imagine yourself calling your own law practice. What happens? Does the caller immediately go into voice mail? Is the phone answered by your six pack a day gravel voiced grandmother that doubles as your secretary? Is the caller subjected to the love theme from Titanic? You can have the greatest marketing strategy in the world, but it can mean nothing if that first contact with your office is a poor one. The first step is to determine what is considered proper telephone protocol for your office. How is your telephone answered? Is your firm mentioned or do they answer "law office." Perhaps it's a matter of taste, but that always drives me crazy. When I call a restaurant for reservations, I do not expect the person to answer "Restaurant." I want to hear "Le Fancy Pants can I help you?" How is the client addressed? Once they tell you their name, it's nice to refer to them as Mr. or Ms., not "hold on dude." Depending on your practice, most people in need of a lawyer are looking for a quick answer. The kid is in jail, a newly married couple wants to close on a house, an old divorcing couple wants to burn their house down. If it is a new client, more than likely they have a list of attorneys they are trying to call. The winner is often the first one they speak to. So what happens when you have to put them on hold? If the client is put on hold, what does he hear? Is it silence? You are now in your own version of the show 24 and the clock is ticking. According to AT&T, an estimated 90% of callers hang up after being put on silent hold for forty seconds. Unfortunately, most people are put on hold for more than 40 seconds. Coupled with the fact that twittered attention spans are shorter, you may have a problem on your hands. You have background music? You just bought yourself another 15-20 seconds. Granted, you shouldn't keep callers on hold for long periods of time. But sometimes, it is the nature of the beast. More success often means a higher volume of calls. Why not invest in a pre-made announcement. The trick is to make it interesting. Whether you talk about your practice, your firm's charity work, or even legal tips, you will be able to hold the attention of your caller much longer. It can be your opportunity to expose the client to different aspects of your practice that they are unaware of. It could remind a client they need a will or perhaps they have a colleague who needs a good tax attorney. Finally, once you get the call from a prospective or current client, make an effort to call them back within twenty four hours. If you simply are too busy, at least have a staff member call. A lack of communication between you and your client will only cause you headaches. Clients will begin making repeated phone calls much to the frustration of your staff and the client. They will be less likely to do business with you in the future and less likely to refer you to someone else.

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