5 Steps to Increase Client Intake by 30%
A wise man once told me, “If you walk into a room and make a friend, they will buy whatever you’re selling. And if you walk into a room and try to sell something to a stranger, it is a much more difficult task.”
Another old sales adage I love is “you sell with your ears and not your mouth.”
Follow these five steps and you will increase your new client intake by at least 30 percent.
1) Build Emotional Intelligence
Identify with callers’ emotions. We all have different levels of emotional intelligence, or EQ. To make this very easy, these two methods automatically give you the emotional intelligence you need in any situation.
- Think of the most important person in the world to you. Treat every caller as if they were this person, and you will without effort present the best version of yourself to them. You will be polite, caring, sympathetic, empathetic, and respectful. You will let them do all the talking and you will do all the listening. You will open your conversation with a sincere, “How are you doing today?” and use “please” and “thank you” throughout the conversation.
- Treat everyone like they can make you rich and famous or give you perfect health. It’s human nature to cooperate with others who can help us. After all, we’re meant to help each other. So naturally, it is wise to help someone who can in turn help you.
2) Listen and Establish Rapport
One thing I can assure you of is this: in the case of Julie, whom I discussed in last week’s post, by the time she has called you she has been discounted, shrugged off, and treated like a nuisance by her employer, insurance adjuster, physician she has been sent to by her insurance company, and many times her own spouse, friends, and family. Now more than ever she needs someone to listen to her. Try this simple technique to improve your listening skills:
Be present at all times.
Stop everything you are doing and turn your chair and literally look at the wall so the only thing you are doing is engaging the caller. Be very agreeable, validate their feelings and let them vent about anything and everything no matter how off topic. Remember, they picked up the phone because they are looking for help and an attorney could potentially make these problems go away.
Do not put them on hold, do not allow anyone to interrupt your conversation. It may take two minutes or 45. However long it takes, it takes. Stay patient, because if you do let them vent and get it all out, they will feel a sense of loyalty to you. You are the one person in this horrible journey through Work-Comp-Land who has finally taken the time to listen–and understand.
Ask key questions like, “What made you pick up the phone and seek help from a lawyer?” or “In my years of experience, I have found the two most common reasons people pick up the phone and call us are 1) they are not receiving quality medical care on time and 2) they are not receiving their benefits on time or at all. So tell me, which category do you fall into–or both of them?”
You now have a new client–if you follow the rest of the steps.
3) Perform a Proper Intake and Screening
Please note: Many attorneys will not sub attorneys they know out of cases, and some attorneys will not take any cases if there is already an attorney representing the individual. If you are one of these attorneys, it is important that you ask this question before the caller explains their situation. At this point find out what their status is, if they are with an attorney you have a relationship with, or if you do not sub out any attorneys politely let them know and refer them to another attorney you trust who does. If you are not one of these attorneys then proceed with the following protocol.
Be prepared–always have your (updated and accurate) schedule and intake sheet in front of you.
While the caller is venting about the situation, they most likely will divulge all the intake information you need. If not, you can ask little questions along the way, like, “I am so sorry to hear you fell off a ladder, do you remember what day that was? Who do you work for?”
Another important piece of information you will need is whether their claim is denied, delayed, or accepted. Sit tight on this question–most of the time, the caller will let you know if the case is denied or delayed within the first few minutes of the conversation.
Regardless, since this is important information, try to find this out as soon as possible. If this information isn’t being divulged after several minutes, ask, “Do you happen to know if your case is accepted, denied, or in delayed status?”
The caller will let you know for sure, and if uncertain, you can reasonably assume if they have been treated by a doctor for more than 90 days it is accepted, because delayed status in California is 90 days. And if the claim is denied, they will know for sure and mention it right away.
Once the caller has finished explaining and you have extracted all the necessary intake information, assess if this is a case you are interested in and move to step four or politely let them know you cannot take the claim and refer the caller to an attorney who can if possible.
If you sense the caller is going to be a problem client, find a polite reason to decline. In the event that they have a complicated case and you need to connect them with an attorney but none are available at that moment, then be sure to call back exactly when you say you will.
Do not blow them off even if the attorney does not want the case. We live in a world of online reviews–many attorneys have received negative reviews on Yelp, Google, and other review sites because of inconsiderate actions like this. Even if you aren’t taking the case, still do your part to help the caller.
4) Schedule the Soonest Available Appointment
Get them in the door within 24 hours, preferably the same day if possible.
Be sure to give excellent directions to your location. Send an email when you hang up summarizing what you talked about and expressing that you are looking forward to meeting them and helping them with their case. Remind them of any paperwork they need to bring. Include a Google map link in your email, or you can send copy-and-pasted driving directions from Google maps. If you are in a difficult-to-find area, be very sure to mention any major landmarks nearby. Although it might feel like you’re overdoing it, you can really never get too specific when giving someone directions, especially to a difficult-to-find place.
For instance, if you are in a downtown area and the entrance to your parking garage is unmarked, mention a landmark 100 yards or so before the entrance to the unmarked garage. Say something like, “When you see the Pinkberry on the right, slow down to 5 miles per hour–we are 50 feet after that. You will turn right into the unmarked underground garage entrance. Push the button to take the ticket and we will validate it for you when you leave.”
I want to reiterate that you must be as descriptive as possible. This is my number one rule in life in general: explain things not so they can be understood but so there is no possible way they can be misunderstood.
5) Implement a 24-Hour Confirmation Policy
Unless you were able to schedule them within 24 hours of the call, be sure to confirm 24 hours prior to their scheduled appointment.
Just like in giving directions, confirming the appointment should be done with finesse. Do not approach the confirmation call with a disinterested, just-covering-the-basics tone. It is very important to assess their mood and level of enthusiasm. If their mood has gone cold or they seem less enthusiastic than the first call, make sure to engage them and ask how they are feeling or how have they been. Reestablish rapport to make them feel comfortable and excited to tackle their case again.
Resend the email you sent the day you scheduled the appointment and again remind them of any paperwork they need to bring.
Progress Not Perfection
Follow these five steps and you can increase new client intake by 30 percent. As they say in Alcoholics Anonymous, “progress not perfection.” Don’t expect things to change overnight.
It may take some time to get your staff familiar with the new protocols you have implemented in your office. The five steps might be simple in theory, but they represent a greater cultural shift toward higher emotional intelligence and even better work ethic in your office, and this can take time to develop.
Stay focused and consistent with what you expect from your staff. Set high expectations, push them, and believe that they can rise to the challenge. Even if efforts fall short and your staff is only able to answer the phone on first two or three rings 80 percent of the time, it is a huge victory. Missed calls will happen, and when they do, just be sure to get back them as soon as possible. Chances are the caller they missed is dialing away waiting for someone else to pick up, or maybe they have spoken with someone from another office and were treated like a number.
Pursue every lead like it is your most important and I promise you will enjoy incredible growth in your practice to the likes of which you could have ever imagined.
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.