Today’s guest post, which is Part 1 of 2, was written by Ray Gross, a legal marketing expert. You can learn more about him at the end of the post.
It sounds bold, but that was no clickbait title–it’s the truth. If you finish reading this article and implement my suggestions, you will increase your client intake by around 30 percent.
Let’s make this as simple as possible.
You spend a lot of money on marketing. Perhaps you’re spending marketing dollars on search engine optimization, radio and television commercials, or print ads. The bottom line is you’re trying to get your phone to ring, right?
So the phone rings. Now what?
Where Business Meets Emotion
How many rings does it take for your receptionist to pick up? Have you ever researched how quickly your receptionist picks up the phone and how many incoming calls go to your voicemail system? Are you using an automated attendant? If so, I think you’re likely better off donating your marketing dollars to a charity.
We invest time and money into getting leads but often neglect investing the same into systems and processes to ensure that the lead becomes a loyal client. Getting the lead is only half the battle–it’s what you do next that really matters. Leads are humans, and humans have emotional needs.
Generally, people who call lawyers are driven by their emotions, which could range from uncontrollably sobbing to being so enraged they are threatening others with physical violence. What they really need is a responsive human being who can talk them through it and get them the help they need.
Example: Julie’s Workers’ Compensation Case
Let’s look at this through the lens of a workers’ compensation practice. Let’s say you’re the owner of the practice.
“Julie” is a fictitious person who injured her shoulder at work and is scared to lose her job. Julie doesn’t sleep very well because she’s in pain. She is very frustrated because the doctor assigned to her through her employer’s workers’ compensation insurance company is very dismissive of her pain. She is basically being treated like a “faker” and is incredibly offended.
Finally, she gets so fed up by this treatment she leaves her appointment angry and disgusted, determined to get help. She gets in her car and immediately grabs her iPhone and does a Google search for workers compensation attorney in Los Angeles.
That awesome search engine marketing company has done such a fantastic job that your pay-per-click ad comes up first.
Julie clicks your ad, hits the call button and the phone rings once. Then, twice, three times, four, and then it goes to voicemail. She hangs up. Emotional people looking for help almost never leave messages. Chances are you just lost a client.
Julie hits the call button and the phone ring six times, no voicemail picks up, and Julie hangs up. You just lost her again.
Julie hits the call button, the phone rings once and your receptionist answers. Julie says, “Hi, I’d like to speak to an attorney.” The receptionist says, “There are no attorneys available. Can I please take a message and have somebody call you back?” Julie leaves a message to have someone call her back and they hang up. Trust me when I tell you this: unless an attorney calls her back within 10 minutes, you just lost her again.
Julie hits the call button, the receptionist picks up, and Julie says, “Hi, I’d like to speak with an attorney,” and the receptionist says, “An attorney’s not available right now, but how can I help you?”
Julie starts to explain her story. The receptionist interrupts her and says, “Can you please give me your date of injury?” Julie gives her the date of injury and begins to explain more about her situation. The receptionist interrupts her and says, “Do you happen to know who the insurance is through? And can you tell me who your employer is?” Julie answers the receptionist and tells her the employer’s name and insurance company. Julie goes back to explaining her awful situation. Thirty seconds later the receptionist interrupts her and says, “I just need to get some intake information from you and from there I will pass it along to somebody who will call you back.” Julie says OK and gives the receptionist her contact information.
The receptionist did a little better this time–she was able to get more information and possibly establish some rapport. This is the good news, but the bad news is Julie just wants to be heard and was cut short. So in her quest to get that emotional support she is looking for, she’s probably going to pick up the phone and keep calling lawyers until she can get on the phone with somebody who is willing to play “camp counselor” and hear her out.
Let’s take it one step in a better direction. Julie hits the call button, the receptionist picks up, the receptionist does an excellent intake and schedules Julie for a consultation five business days from the date of her call.
You just lost her. Why? Because the receptionist did not ask Julie what would be the best time for her. Emotional people want to be seen immediately and they want to feel as if they are priority. Again, they want to be heard and they want to be pampered.
Invest in the Power of Humanity
Here’s the deal folks.
There’s nothing more important than new business. So let’s get real. The number one priority of your practice should be getting your telephones answered within two or three rings maximum. Even if you have to hire two receptionists or even three.
OVERHEAD, right? You might be thinking that you can’t afford two or three receptionists. But I would say you can’t afford not to have two or three receptionists. Why? Because the amount of money you are leaving on the table is astonishing.
Let’s Crunch the Numbers
Since we all know numbers don’t lie, let’s do a little math. Let’s say the average receptionist makes $15 an hour and works full-time, which is 40 hours a week. Each employee will cost you roughly $37,000 to $38,000 a year, and that number factors in another 15% for all the trimmings that come with having an employee.
Now let’s agree that you’re losing business because you’re not handling your new calls properly. Let’s also agree that, conservatively, by not answering your phone properly you are losing two new clients per week. Good? So let’s do the math.
In California the average workers’ compensation case value is approximately $6,500. Two new clients a week at $6,500 a piece is $13,000 a week. And $13,000×52 equals $676,000 per year. I’m no Albert Einstein here, but this math is pretty compelling.
Let’s say that right now you have one receptionist and they’re not getting the job done because they are too busy to get every call within the first two or three rings. I would propose you add another receptionist for $15 an hour. In my opinion, two receptionists would be sufficient–and I deal with some pretty busy workers’ compensation law firms. With two receptionists answering the phone, there’s very few times that every call would not be answered within two or three rings.
What would you do if I walked up to you and said, “If you give me $76,000, I’ll hand you $676,000 back.” I’m pretty sure you would take that deal, right?
Do I have your attention now? Now let’s get down to what you need to do to increase your conversion once the receptionist gets that call within two to three rings. Tune in next week for Part 2 to learn about steps you can take to significantly increase client intake.
Ray Gross is founder and CEO of Attorney Internet Marketing LLC. For more than five years, he has successfully helped increase the revenue of his clients by organizing joint marketing programs. He also coaches his clients and helps to successfully implement strategies to increase client intake, retention, satisfaction and positive online reputation.