A Tale of Two Phone Calls

Imagine Tom and Nancy.

They were in separate car crashes during a recent rush hour. Both are fine, thankfully, but they each need an attorney.

Tom’s Story
Tom searches online that night and completes a contact form for the law firm of Gerand, Arndt & Schlicksup. When the firm calls back the next morning, a friendly and understanding receptionist confirms Tom’s contact information and takes a basic explanation of his accident. He follows up with a few straightforward clarifying questions before finally asking Tom what his goals are and why he wants an attorney.

They then make an appointment for the very next day and the receptionist promises to send Tom an email with a calendar invitation and directions to the firm. Before ending the call, Tom is given one more chance to ask questions or share anything relevant with the firm.

Nancy’s Experience
While Tom was on the phone, Nancy was on hers. She uses Google to find a solo practitioner, Joel Rengstorf, right down the block from her workplace. She calls his office and leaves a message on his voicemail. Nancy explains her situation and that she is hoping to hear back ASAP. Unbeknownst to her, Joel Rengstorf is in court most of the day today and tomorrow. He does return her call, but not until 4:30 the next afternoon.

Once on the phone, Joel asks Nancy for a brief run-down of what happened. He has a quick, terse tone but tries his best to find an appointment yet this week even though he has more court dates coming up. They agree to meet in-person Friday afternoon. Joel does not provide any directions or follow up information to Nancy before they hang up.

What’s the difference?

This scenario assumes an awful lot, but play along and you’ll agree that Tom feels pretty good about his upcoming meeting compared to Nancy. His experience during his phone call with the law firm was much more positive. His story was taken in a structured manner, his contact information was verified and he even has an email telling him where and when to go next.

In contrast, Nancy has an appointment with someone who, while he sounded well intentioned, didn’t exactly give the impression that she’ll be on his mind until five minutes before she sees him again. Joel Rengstorf does his best with a busy schedule and limited resources, but Nancy’s timing was just unfortunate. It’s a busy week for Joel’s practice and in the race to make new clients feel like a priority, he definitely comes in second this time.

It all comes down to this.

Now, if you don’t have a receptionist you might be put off by this example, but this story isn’t about staffing. It’s about attitude. Consider how your law firm manages the new client intake process, and how you/your staff treat potential clients. The simple decisions you make at this stage can have a profound impact on their willingness to hire you, and their willingness to recommend you in the future.

For legal consumers, working with your firm can feel like the best of times, or the worst of times. Often, you just need to start out on the right foot.

This scenario was inspired by the white paper, Failing At The Finish Line: How Law Firms Lose Prospective Clients At The Front Door. Download your free copy and start improving your intake processes today.

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