The Benefits of Telephone Answering for Law Firms
Staying on top of phone calls can be a struggle in a busy law firm.
In fact research has shown that more than four in 10 calls to law firms go unanswered.
In an industry when business can be won and lost on reputation, failing to properly manage inbound calls can be a real problem for solicitors and law businesses.
The traditional answer has been to hire a full-time receptionist.
But with the costs involved, and the fact that law firms aren’t necessarily office based 100% of the time anymore, hiring a receptionist is less appealing.
Asking staff to handle calls is too inefficient because it drags them away from the jobs they’re meant to be doing and doesn’t resolve the problem of missed calls.
A better answer is to consider investing in a telephone answering service for law firms.
How can a telephone answering service help law firms?
Maintain a professional and reliable service at all times
Calls made to law firms are typically either serious, sensitive or urgent in nature.
Which means being seen as professional and reliable at all times. Any hint of a sign that your firm isn’t reliable is a sure way to alienate or lose clients.
This means answering and responding to calls or enquiries quickly.
With no dedicated telephone answering resource, this can be a problem.
When the phone rings, staff could see it as more of an inconvenience than an opportunity to resolve a problem or earn new business.
So they’ll leave the call to ring, hoping someone else will deal with it. And if staff are busy or stressed when they answer the call it’s too easy for them to give the impression that they’re annoyed at being pulled away from what they were doing.
A receptionist can help here if you’re only dealing with one call at a time. But as any solicitor will know, calls rarely come through that way.
With a telephone answering service you have a dedicated resource that can reliably handle all your firm’s inbound calls, ensuring you appear professional at all times.
You won’t miss important calls outside normal hours
Not everyone who needs a solicitor’s services is able to call during the normal 9-5 (because they’re working too).
This creates a problem because having no out-of-hours call management will cost you business, but how can you create a personalised extended hours service without working additional hours yourself?
You can’t use an answering machine.
First, it’s not a personal service to have a robotic voice answer the phone. Second, the vast majority of callers who get sent to voicemail don’t leave a message (and most don’t call back).
Again, a telephone answering service can help solve this problem by giving you out-of-hours call management, without you needing to work extra hours.
Instead you can have a team of receptionists taking messages, ensuring your clients are talking to real people and feeling like they’ve been given a personal, professional experience.
Easily scale your call management as your firm grows
One big problem you’ll have with hiring a receptionist is you’ll pay the same regardless of how many calls they answer.
If you go through a slow period you’re paying for more call management than you need (which is money that could be invested elsewhere).
On the other hand, if you go through a busy period your receptionist may struggle to keep up with the new demand. And are you going to get in another receptionist or put the burden on your team?
Hiring someone means training them on how you handle calls and how different calls are managed (which can take months).
Asking your team to handle any overflow of calls just pulls them away from their work (and defies the point of having someone to answer the phone in the first place).
A call handling service is better because you can just scale the amount of service you need based on demand.
Need more call handling? You can up the amount of call cover you use.
Demand falling? Just reduce the amount of service you need.
Any business owner will know that sales and spam calls are an inevitable part of office life.
But when you’re getting lots of these calls and it’s taking up to much time for your receptionist or team to handle them, it starts to become a burden and can impact your firm’s ability to work.
The best thing is for a telephone answering service to be a barrier between your business and these calls.
With your PAs handling any inbound calls they can stop callers getting through to you in the first place, saving you and your team the hassle of dealing with them.
A call handling service for your law firm can also have you removed from sales lists, so you’ll get fewer spam calls over time.
Use your time more effectively
With the average cost of a legal representative in the UK currently sitting at over £200 per hour according to Unbiased, your time is precious.
Which means you don’t have time to be answering the phone all day - you’re too busy focusing on important work.
But if you’re a small firm and you don't have someone to answer the phone for you, you may need to split your time between answering the phone and serving your clients.
Which isn’t good - if your attention is divided, you can’t possibly hope to provide the very best service.
Eventually, this might begin to show in your work, which could lead to a slump in not just legal victories, but client numbers as well.
Plus, you’ll have far less time to focus on the clients you already have, because you’ll be too busy answering the phone.
So rather than allowing your work (and productivity) to suffer, why not let somebody else handle your calls?
A telephone answering service could answer every single call you receive if you like, so you can put all your energy into your work and delivering for your clients and building your firm.
No more distractions.
Manned live chat options allow clients to get answers to questions easily
It’s not to say that calls aren’t important, but some calls are less important than others.
If your clients are calling your firm for answers to pretty basic questions - questions that could be answered less directly - you’re still wasting time on calls.
If your firm is short on resources and the only way clients can get in touch with you is through a direct phone call, you’ll be expected to answer those questions which could be answered by the client themselves, if only they had access to the right materials.
Eventually, as you continue to grow, you may find your firm flooded with these kinds of simple enquiries. Enquiries which you have no problem answering, but admittedly, your time could be better spent.
Yet another reason a telephone answering service will be of use.
Callers can have their basic questions answered by call handlers, who are kept in the know on essential information, allowing them to act as your messenger.
This leaves clients feeling happy and satisfied, safe in the knowledge someone from your firm has given them the answers they were looking for.
All while your time can be spent focusing on more pressing issues.
Having said that, some telephone answering services offer an even easier way for clients to find the answers they need…
Digital live chat options allow clients to speak to a person or an automated system through their devices.
What makes the manned live chat alternatives so impressive is that they’re able to relay basic (and sometimes more intricate) information to clients without the need to speak to you directly.
Opening not just your firm, but your external call handlers up to answer more calls and continue providing exceptional service.
41% of customers expect live chat options on your website, according to data from Forrester, so it makes sense to have this technology readily available.
Telephone answering services will save your law firm time, energy and cash
If you’re a busy law firm, or you’re a law firm on the rise, a lot of the above scenarios probably sound familiar.
You might even be in the process of scouting for a new receptionist, or receptionists, to handle your calls.
In which case, we’d strongly recommend freezing your search for the time being, while you explore the advantages of telephone answering services for law firms…
- They work out cheaper than hiring a full-time member of staff
- There’s no need for training, they’re already well-prepared to help, and…
- They represent your business as you see fit.
And this is barely scratching the surface. So don’t carry on missing important calls and pouring cash down the drain when you don’t need to.
Look into telephone answering services for law firms. It will change the way you do business for the better.
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