3 Rules of Phone Etiquette for Law Firms- Phone Script Included
Is poor phone etiquette negatively impacting your law firm?
There is a lot more to phone etiquette than simply the tone of your voice and how polite you are, although those items are also extremely important. Properly handling calls from new leads can make a big difference in your ability to convert an interested party into a new client. After working with our legal clients and reviewing the way the best (and the worst) handle calls, we have been able to pinpoint what makes the difference between a new client and a missed opportunity.
Rule #1: Your Only Goal is to Schedule a Face to Face Consultation
Studies show that once a lead is in front of an attorney, the attorney has a 74% chance of retaining them as a client. That is why the goal of your phone conversation should be nothing more than scheduling an in-person consultation.
The initial phone call is not the time to discuss fees or to qualify the lead. At this point, the caller is simply someone who is interested in your services, and the ONLY WAY to convert them is to get them in front of an attorney. Attempting to qualify the lead will only take more time, and often people are not totally honest with the person answering the phone like they are with an attorney who has a legal commitment to protect their privacy. There have been many situations where an attorney has gotten a lead into the office and found that there was much more to their story than originally assumed.
Real World Example: We had an Estate Planning Attorney who got a phone lead from a lady who wanted assistance with her will. The phone call didn’t sound very promising, but the attorney chose to meet with the client anyway. However, once the lady was in the office, she revealed that she was actually in charge of a very large estate, and needed help with planning and management of the estate. What sounded like a $300 one-time fee turned into a long-term client with a much higher lifetime value than the majority of the attorney’s other clients.
Rule #2: Build the Value of the Free Consultation
When speaking with a potential client, it is important to not diminish the value of your Free Consultation. An hour with an attorney costs on average $200-$400, so even a 15-minute consultation has a value of $50-$100. But you aren’t allowed to discuss fees on the phone (have you already forgotten Rule #1?), so how do you show the value if you can’t put a dollar sign on it?
It is all about the language that you use when describing the Free Consultation. Instead of saying, “I can schedule you a free consultation, no problem” say, “If you schedule an appointment today, I can offer you a free face to face consultation with one of our attorneys. We only have a few slots available, can I put you down for (Date/Time)?”
This provides the “coupon effect”, a combination of scarcity, urgency, and exclusivity. You are telling them that they are getting something that not everyone can obtain (exclusivity), that there are only a few slots available (scarcity), and they better hurry to get one (urgency). This not only leads to more appointments scheduled, it also leads to a higher percentage of appointments that are kept.
Rule #3: Confirm the Appointment
You got the appointment- Fantastic! Now you just have to cross your fingers and hope that the person actually shows up, right? Wrong! When you speak with the lead on the initial phone call, confirm with them the best way to remind them of their appointment. Based on the reason for needing your services, they may prefer to be contacted at work or through email instead of through a phone call to their cell. We have found that the best way to confirm an appointment is through text, as it allows the lead the opportunity to discretely view and delete the reminder. Whatever the preference, make sure that it is noted so that it is handled properly when the reminder is sent.
The appointment confirmation should be done the day before the appointment is scheduled, and should request that they respond in some way to confirm that they will be there. Do not give them the option to reschedule, unless they specifically request to do so. If they request to reschedule, tell them you need to see if there are any free consultation appointments left and give them 2-3 time slots to choose from. Do not leave it open-ended for them to select a time, as that diminishes the scarcity of the Free Consultation.
When the Phone Rings… Answer It
We aren’t including this as a rule simply because it should be a given. If the phone rings, answer it. If you miss the call, listen to the voice message, if any, and call them back as soon as possible. If you are unable to handle your call volume, consider hiring a legal phone answering service to assist you. We can recommend a service that some of our other attorney clients use and have been happy with the results. We will work with you to help you get the best results possible, no matter what issue you are facing.
Sample Phone Script for Law Firms
You: Thank you for calling “Our Law Firm”, my name is “Me”, how can I help you today?
Lead: (something to the effect of “I need to talk to an attorney about my legal needs”)
You: We can certainly assist you with that. If I can ahead and get a few details from you, I can schedule you for a free face-to-face consultation with (Attorney’s Name) free of charge. (Take down Name, Best Contact Phone Number, and any other info you need to schedule)
Lead: (Provides information)
You: I have an appointment available (next earliest available slot), if you would like to go ahead and commit to that?
Lead: (Selects a time slot or requests an alternative time that you accommodate, if possible)
You: We will send you a reminder the day before your appointment. We typically do this via text, and ask that you reply confirming you will be here. Will that work for you?
Lead: (Either confirms that will work or provides alternative contact method)
You: (Attorney’s Name) will have the details you provided me today. We look forward to seeing you on (Date/Time). Thank you!
What to do if a lead wants to tell you all about their problem: Politely stop the conversation and inform them that you are not an attorney and can not assist them with their problem over the phone. However, if they schedule their initial consultation now, you can offer them the opportunity to meet with an attorney face to face free of charge. Then schedule the appointment.
What to do if a lead requests fee information on the phone: Simply let them know that the attorney will go over everything with them in person, that you can offer them the opportunity to meet with an attorney face to face for a Free Initial Consultation, and schedule the appointment.
What to do if a lead does not want an appointment reminder: Remind them that their privacy and safety is your utmost concern, and that your office will never do anything to risk that. Go ahead and schedule their appointment without the reminder, and let them know that the attorney will help them come up with a way for them to receive messages from your office in the future.
We Are Here For You
If you need any assistance with phone etiquette, how to schedule appointments, or assistance with managing your call volume, we are here for you. Send us a message through the client support system, or give us a call to discuss how we can help you convert more leads.