Law firm phone systems used to be a costly. Between purchasing the phones, subscribing to a voicemail service, and paying the salary of a receptionist to answer and transfer calls, the costs added up quickly. And the more features you required–for example the ability to host conference calls–the higher the price of the phone systems. For many law firms, phone systems and maintenance were a good portion of their practice’s overhead.
How times have changed! Solo and small firm lawyers have more options than ever before when it comes to their law firm’s phone systems. As technology improves, low-cost alternatives proliferate making it easier than ever for lawyers to communicate with their clients and colleagues.
Here are a few ideas to help your law firm make the leap from outdated and expensive 20th century phone systems to 21st century cost-effective alternatives.
1. Ditch the landline. That’s right. Get rid of your law firm’s landline. It’s tough to cut the cord after so many years of using it, but it’ll save you time, money, and hassles. Because of VOIP (voice over Internet protocol) you have so many options. Whether you choose to go with Google Voice, Ring Central, Ooma or another service, you have plenty of choices. Here’s a great article from PC Magazine that helps you sort through the most popular VOIP providers.
And don’t forget about using web-based portals to supplement phone calls and streamline communications for your law firm. With online portals, your clients have access to their case-related information 24/7 and can often obtain what they’re seeking, avoiding a call to your office altogether. You can learn more about the benefits of client portals from our recent blog post and infographic here.
2. Ditch your full-time receptionist. Don’t get me wrong–receptionists can be an important part of providing good client service. When someone walks in the door, being greeted by a human being is oftentimes the best solution. But you don’t necessarily need a full-time receptionist. Many solo and small law firms can get by with a part-time receptionist or even forgo one altogether, as long as you’ve got a system in place to provide the information and support that current and potential clients need.
For many law firms, virtual receptionists are a great alternative. Instead of hiring someone in-house to answer your phones, you outsource this task to a company that will do it for you. There are many services that will do this for you–it’s simply a matter of finding the right one for your needs. This FindLaw article is a great place to start. And find out how one lawyer has successfully used a virtual receptionist and other types of technology to stay competitive and reduce overhead.
3. Use free phone conference tools. And, last but not least, don’t waste money on expensive phone conference software or systems. Instead take advantage of the many free and low cost tools available.
For starters, most smartphones will allow you to conference in at least 3 people using the phone’s native software. This post explains how the process works on an iPhone, which allows you to hold a call with up to 5 lines at a time. There are also a number of smartphone apps you can download that provide lots of great features and make it easy to hold multi-person conference calls. This post lists a number of the more popular apps.
So what’s holding you back? Spend a little time up front researching your options and see how much you can reduce your law firm’s overhead by cutting the cord and moving to 21st century phone tools in your law firm. I bet you’ll be surprised at how much you can save!