Learning Intake Solutions from Across Industries
The legal industry has a client intake problem. It may not be one your law firm is aware of, but it’s out there and prospects are taking notice. Many times legal consumers contact the attorney they’re interested in only to wait in vain for a callback or a return email. Their frustration is one way that law firms are taking a hit on their online reputation without even knowing it.
When faced with a legal need, consumers move quickly and decisively, making it crucial for your law firm to convert them just as quickly. Prospects often hire the first or second attorney they contact, so if they call or email your office they are often your client to lose. Yet many times calls are missed, messages aren’t returned or attorneys unknowingly talk down to prospects, leaving a sour taste in their mouths.
The problem is one of inconsistency. While some law firms have well-crafted intake procedures, others are still missing the mark. Thankfully, help can be found in other industries. Businesses outside of the legal field have used systems that ensure more sales and more volume for some time now. Let’s look at the processes of a few other industries that your firm can possibly use in the future.
How online retailers avoid abandoned shopping carts.
Let’s say your kids are learning about sports and you want to buy them an adjustable basketball hoop for your driveway. You do the research, find a list of options that fit your budget and then place a couple hoops in your digital “shopping cart” at a sporting goods store.
If you decide not to buy one right away, that company will probably send an automated email a day or two later letting you know that there are items left to purchase. They may even throw in a one-time discount to make it even more enticing to buy.
The lesson for law firms? Don’t let shoppers abandon you.
If you have an initial consultation with a legal consumer and they don’t hire you on the spot, don’t assume that you’ve lost their business. There’s no way to tell what a prospect’s decision-making process looks like. Assuming that they will be the ones to call you back might be assigning too much initiative to a person – especially one who may be in a vulnerable position and needs a little push across the finish line.
That push can come in the form of an email, a text message or a phone call from your firm reminding the prospect about what was discussed in your consultation, your fee structure or the urgency of their case. Don’t be afraid to follow-up on that follow-up either. There are many reasons a legal consumer doesn’t respond to your first message. A second or third correspondence might help sway their decision.
Restaurants get smart about reservations.
The booming food culture has many restaurants swamped with reservation requests that come in over phone, email and website contact forms. That confusion has given rise to an industry of intake solutions. The most well known in the business is Open Table. On the B2B side, Open Table organizes reservations into one software program that allows a restaurant to space out the night efficiently. For consumers, a website plugin and mobile app make reservations a breeze for diners on the go.
The software puts all employees at the restaurant on the same page about the night’s schedule. There’s no more need to ask five different people which guests they booked or where the reservations came from (making marketing analysis much easier).
The lesson for law firms? Keep your customer-facing staff on the same page.
Law firms need one location to collect a prospect’s (non-sensitive) information that is accessible to all attorneys and staff. That way everyone knows who they’re speaking to and where they are on the journey from legal consumer to a client. You’d be surprised by the efficiency a little organization creates.
Fitness centers find a mix of tenderness and tenacity.
If you’ve ever filled out a form or taken a tour at the local gym, you probably know how doggedly they follow up with you over the phone. Most gyms survive on signing as many new members as they can, so if you show any interest they won’t hesitate to keep in contact.
However, they’re also civil and want to make you feel comfortable in an environment that isn’t always seen as welcoming. Gyms are intimidating to many people, especially those who aren’t sure how to start living healthier, and successful fitness centers know this. Employees are taught that an empathetic approach to prospects is the best course of action. Someone is more likely to buy a membership if they feel comfortable.
The lesson for law firms? Lead with a human touch.
When it comes to intimidated clients, health clubs can’t touch the legal industry. Many consumers are nervous about hiring an attorney or flat-out scared for their futures. If prospects often approach your law firm feeling vulnerable, it pays to perfect a communication style that is comfortable and understanding. This will help you gain trust by soothing your prospects’ fears while performing sound intake practices. Yes, you should follow up with missed calls or emails, but it should be done with the same empathy that good fitness centers use.
Of course, there are some legal clients who need a bulldog in their corner. In cases like these, empathy might take a backseat to strength and assuredness. In any case, it behooves attorneys to understand the motivations of their clients and craft a first impression to match.
How can law firms get started improving their intake practices?
To find out how FindLaw can help make your intake process more efficient, make an appointment with your local consultant.