Want to be a rainmaker? Patch the holes in your intake pipeline.
It could be raining new clients, but your well of fresh cases is getting close to dry. What are you doing wrong?
If you’re like most law firms, the issue could be a flawed intake process. In our research, we’ve found a surprising number of attorneys do fairly well at attracting potential customers, but then stumble when it comes to the final step: intake. That’s the act of bringing those potential customers on board as paying clients.
The right intake process will look different for every firm, of course, because it depends on staff size, practice area and geographic location. That being said, law firms that have solid intake conduits all display certain characteristics. Chief among them:
For many practice areas, like criminal defense and personal injury, consumers are frightened or in pain and want very much to know they’ve found someone who can help them. That means they want to speak to a human being on the phone. Does your website help them do that? A recent survey by FindLaw found 18 percent of law firms did not have a phone number visible without scrolling down, and 7 percent did not list a phone number at all.
If you’re convinced that phone calls aren’t a new business pipeline for you, that’s fine. Just make sure you tend to whatever means of communication you provide – a full 50 percent of firms in our survey took longer than 24 hours to respond to email or online forms. That’s too long; 49 percent of consumers said they expect a response in less than a day.
A client who has been sexually harassed at work probably does not want to recount what happened to her at all, let alone retell the painful story to a receptionist, one attorney and then that attorney’s partner. Things like this happen when firms are uncoordinated or haven’t devoted enough time to their intake strategy. It’s not just ungraceful; it’s bad for business. Would you rather work with a company that (accidentally) came across as distant and indifferent, or with one that seemed, purposeful, attentive and in-tune with your needs?
It isn’t easy for any small business to tell whether its advertising and marketing are working, but the best chance to collect information and data arises from – you guessed it – the intake process. Even something as simple as asking “How did you hear about us?” can inform your understanding of how clients find you. Once you grasp that, you can determine whether they way you are allocating your marketing resources is paying off
A client who calls and leaves a voicemail does so for a reason. Many attorneys we’ve spoken to try to get in touch with a potential customer once (if that) and then give up. That isn’t going to cut it. Think of how many competitors you have, and then think of how easy it is for clients to hop from website to website, calling until they connect with someone who makes them feel secure. Invest a little effort in sincerely following up with consumers who get in touch with you; you’ll likely reap several new clients from a process you did wouldn’t yield any.