One of the most frequent missed opportunities we see is a poorly defined intake process. For all the effort and expense firms put into getting in front of prospects and encouraging potential clients to call, it’s baffling that the first person-to-person interaction with prospects is so often mishandled.
A well-defined intake process sets the tone for the firm’s success by providing a positive experience from the outset and improving the likelihood that a prospect will be confident signing on as a client.
Even in instances where the firm can’t help or doesn’t have an interest in a particular case, the role of intake is to provide information, and ideally an alternative solution, so the caller doesn’t hang up the phone feeling like the firm was rude, uncaring, or disinterested. One unpleasant interaction over the phone or with front desk staff can lead to a scathing one-star review that paints the firm in a negative light to other potential clients.
Within the legal industry, intake can be exceedingly complex and there are often numerous variables that can make a huge difference in the likelihood of a firm being able to deliver a favorable result. In addition to asking the right questions and getting prospects to share relevant details of their case, the intake staff also needs to maintain a strong rapport with anyone seeking to hire the firm and be available and responsive to any inquiries into the firm’s services.
This means intake staff needs to be:
- Able to reliably answer the phone during business hours
- Capable of responding quickly to online contact forms, text messages, or chat leads
- Empathetic to any hardships or concerns the caller may have, regardless of whether the firm can help
- Great at communicating next steps and making sure the prospective client understands what’s going to happen once they hang up the phone
Very few firms have all of these locked down, but the ones that do are in a strong position to convert their marketing “leads” into actual revenue. For firms that don’t have a reliable intake process (and staff) in place, there are holes in the business that can bleed profit and lead to reputation management issues.
Scenarios that are all too common include:
- Unstaffed phone lines during business hours as employees go to lunch or take breaks
- Slow turnaround time contacting prospects that fill out web forms or inquire through third-party chat vendors
- Staff that assumes callers already understand the legal process or nuances of how their firm works
- Being too quick to dismiss callers once it looks like the inquiry doesn’t align with case types the firm wants or can profit from
- Inadvertently turning away unusual case types the firm does want, but that don’t align with typical inquiries
All of these things can be potentially damaging, and when multiple errors are occurring regularly it’s hard to justify a large marketing budget to drive inquiries that might be mishandled.
Ensuring intake staff are well trained and representing the firm in a professional fashion is one of the most impactful items for generating incremental revenue. Increasing close rates, improving customer experience, and providing a level of service that helps mitigate 1-star reviews from non-clients will go a long way toward improving the overall health of any firm.
If this portion of your practice hasn’t gotten the attention it deserves, contact Mockingbird today for assistance with intake auditing and training.