It seems like the idea of the importance of answering incoming telephone calls at your law office is a “no-brainer.” However, the true significance of missing a few calls per week can also be easily dismissed by some in the midst of the chaos of a busy or understaffed office.
When Potential Clients clients call, they want prompt personal contact
In our practice, we keep very detailed statistical information on every call we receive. Because many of those calls are potential clients who may then be transferred to one of our regional offices, we closely track the numbers when regional offices fail to answer our call and, therefore, miss the potential client contact. We have learned that, when potential clients call, they want prompt personal contact. If we don’t answer the call, or if we fail in our attempt to transfer the potential client to a regional office, then our chance of ever being retained by that PC is slim. They will simply call another law firm.
It makes sense. A potential client is looking for a skilled legal professional to handle the intimate details of a very personal process. Making the selection of the best attorney for them is not an easy decision, and it is a very sizable financial investment. It is important for the PC to feel trust and confidence in the lawyer they choose. The failure of a firm to answer or return calls is never a good thing. It sends a message of both disinterest and disorganization. And that is particularly detrimental when it is the first or only impression a potential client has.
How much money could you be missing out on with unanswered calls
My partner and I do a casual calculation regarding potential client (PC) calls:
- A conservative estimate of fees is $5,000 per case;
- We average 1 client (or more) per 10 PC calls*
- Therefore, each PC call has an approximate value of $500
*The majority of our regional offices maintain a conversion rate of 20% or higher. (An average of 2 clients or more per 10 PC calls.)
So, as an example, if an office missed only 5 PC transfer calls over the course of a month, then that would equate to a loss of $2,500 of potential income on missed calls in a single month. The losses can mount up very quickly. Plus that office is developing a reputation for being uninterested in (potential) client communication and disorganized in their business practices. There are no up-sides.
In our office, the goal is to answer 100% of our incoming calls. It is also our goal to successfully transfer potential client calls to regional offices 100% of the time. Of course, power outages or equipment failure comes into play occasionally, which is unavoidable. But, for the most part, the goal is very achievable. Our staff understands the value of every individual call and they work diligently to answer them all.
It is good business practice for you to set priorities and procedures that ensure your office is answering every incoming call during business hours, and that you have a process established for immediately following up on messages left after hours. If you work with DLFM, it is vital that you have someone available to take all of our potential client call transfers immediately. That person should have a pleasant, positive and engaging demeanor with the PCs and send a strong and engaging message that the PC has found the office that will help them through their legal challenges. If you do not work with DLFM, your goal should be the same. We all work too hard to generate the calls, whether they come from marketing or referrals. It makes no sense at all to waste the effort and lose the value of the missed incoming calls.
We welcome you to reach out to us and get a conversation started.
Jeanne, co-founder and managing partner of Divorce Lawyers for Men, is a successful civil litigator who has focused her legal practice on complex litigation, primarily catastrophic injury and wrongful death lawsuits. She has served as a member and Chair of the Washington State Bar Association Law Clerk Board, as a Thurston County Family Court Child Advocate, and as a founding member of the Thurston County Volunteer Legal Clinic.