When running a law firm, your services may be in such high demand that your office receives more calls in a single business day than it can handle. While this high traffic is beneficial to your law firm, unless you can respond to all client calls immediately, you risk losing them to another attorney.
The last thing people want to hear when seeking legal advice is a disembodied, computer-generated voice presenting a range of suggestions to choose from. They require the assistance of a real receptionist who can effectively and professionally answer their problems.
While you cannot possibly answer all the calls you receive personally or immediately, an answering service can. Working with an answering service ensures that you meet all your clients' needs while ensuring your law firm grows.
How Does an Answering Service Work?
An answering service, which is not to be confused with an answering machine, is a professional answering service company that receives and answers phone calls for its clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. An attorney answering service comprises professionally trained live receptionists who answer your clients' calls quickly and efficiently. These individuals specialize in prompt and knowledgeable service. They act on behalf of the client, so callers are unaware that customer service is outsourced.
An answering service handles inbound calls to an attorney's office. They capture caller information, take messages, answer frequently asked questions, and schedule appointments. Some services also carry out outbound calling, which may help your firm in generating new leads and gaining new clients.
The best legal answering services offer their services to multiple lawyers, making them ideal for small firms. When working in partnership with an attorney answering service, it is critical to select one that can grow with your company. Inquire whether the company can provide additional services on request. As your law firm expands, so will your needs.
How an Answering Service Benefits Your Law Firm
Answering services are useful for every industry, from lawyers' to doctors' offices. Here are interesting reasons every attorney should hire an answering service:
You are Less Likely to Miss Calls From Clients
With an answering service, a client can reach you during the day or night. This guarantees that your clients will receive high-quality services regardless of whether you are in court, in appointments with other clients, or having some well-deserved time off. It shows your dedication to taking care of new and existing clients.
Lowers Your Overheads While Increasing Your Profits
Hiring a receptionist is expensive, especially if your law practice is small. Similarly, having one of your other employees take incoming calls will divert them from their primary responsibilities and cost you money. Working with an answering service saves you a lot of money. As a firm, you will cut the cost of having to pay the live receptionists as part of your staff.
Increases Team Flexibility, Allowing Them to Generate More Revenue and Grow Your Business
One of the most important goals of any company is to maximize revenue generation and growth. With an answering service, you can establish a productive environment for your employees. Dealing with incoming calls may be both time-consuming and distracting, especially if you are addressing every call with similar inquiries.
An answering service can select calls and relay them to your screen during busy hours when your attention should be on work. This allows you to discern whether the phone call is urgent or if the caller is selling you office supplies. An answering service handles many day-to-day issues, allowing your staff and yourself to focus on building the law firm.
You get rid of the headaches of hiring, training, dealing with absenteeism, and performance monitoring
Recruiting staff takes time, money, and effort, besides monitoring their performance. You could put the funds used to hire new employees to better use in more productive and revenue-generating activities. You can avoid the stresses of finding a professional receptionist by using a phone answering service.
It Creates an Illusion of Size
Some clients believe that only a large organization will provide them with the best services. While this is not the reality, you do not want to lose customers because they believe that because you are a tiny organization, you cannot serve them. When an answering service greets a potential client, they assume the company is large. This gives your company a positive first impression, boosting clients' confidence.
Adding a Personal Touch to Your Services
When a client is distraught about an arrest or a court case, a call directed to your firm's voice mail is the last thing they would want to hear. If your legal firm has an answering machine, it provides the impression of disconnection from your clients and this reflects adversely on your reputation.
When a customer contacts your law firm and a warm human voice greets them, they feel important and respected, and most of them can relax. Adding a personal touch to your clients shows you care about their problems and are devoted to helping them solve them.
You Spend Less on Equipment
If your law practice uses a legal answering service, you will not need any additional reception equipment, and your present phone lines will be enough. This means you save money on equipment purchases and can make modifications incurring no costs as a company.
Unique Elements of an Attorney Answering Service
Although the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) does not bind legal answering services in the same way that medical answering services are, it is essential for them to use advanced security and encryption. Attorneys handle a lot of sensitive information. A data breach might have major ramifications for cases and clients. A legal answering service should use at least 128-bit encryption, however many now offer 256-bit encryption as well.
Legal answering services often offer multiple contact numbers for the same attorney or legal firm. This is useful when you are managing a lawsuit or a campaign and want to keep those calls separate from your regular calls. Depending on your choices, legal answering services can also prioritize calls. For instance, your law company can prioritize specific case categories or calls from established clients before other consultations.
Can a Bad Attorney Answering Service Have a Negative Impact on Your Law Firm?
Bad answering services can ruin the reputation of your law firm. You may lose customers if an answering service worker is unresponsive or disrespectful to callers. Worse still, it has the potential to hurt your image for years to come, even after you have dismissed the answering service responsible.
A data breach could disclose sensitive client data and confidential communications if a legal answering service employs insufficient security measures. That is why, before signing up with any answering service, you should do a thorough assessment of your options.
You should inquire about the company's physical infrastructure besides checking the answering service's customer service quality and assessing its security policies and capabilities. This should include data centers, which allow the answering service to continue answering calls even if its location has been rendered inoperable because of a natural disaster or power outage. Your callers will not care if your third-party answering service is in the middle of a storm; all they will care about is that no one answered the phone and they might not call back at all.
Before you sign up for a legal answering service, make sure you understand all the services, pricing, fees, and terms and conditions. Before deciding whether to work with the answering service, get everything in writing and read it carefully. Agreeing with these facts will assist you and the legal answering service in continuing to work together effectively.
Selecting the Right Answering Service for Your Law Firm
You must select the correct answering service in order to reap the benefits mentioned above. Because of the delicate and confidential nature of many prospective calls, law firms need to be conscious.
When consulting with potential answer services, one of the first things to consider is whether they provide specialized services. You do not want to pick an answering service that only has experience with retail assistance or tech support, for example, because legal practices are sophisticated and complex. You want to work with a firm that has experience with clients that are like you and has a track record of success. Those who provide specialized services are more beneficial to your company and are better equipped to handle a variety of caller issues.
Before coming to any conclusions, inquire about how your potential answering service handles confidential and sensitive information. They ought to know that you work with sensitive data daily. As they accept messages from callers, you may tell them exactly what you want them to do. You may choose that they only take messages and handle phone routing, or you may request that they get more information from clients before scheduling appointments.
You should also choose a service provider that offers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days coverage. Many lawyers deal with high-stakes, time-sensitive cases regularly. When prospective clients contact a lawyer's office, it is common that they want to hire or speak with someone as soon as possible. You want an answering service that is available to assist your existing and new clients at all hours of the day and year.
You will never miss a potential client again, and the answering service will be ready to assist them until the next business day. And if there is ever anything truly essential that you have let them know about ahead of time, they will get the person through to you immediately.
Find a service that offers more than just call routing. In terms of what they can do for you, you want a service that can perform as well as an in-office receptionist. High-quality answering services can schedule appointments, collect lead information, process payments, and even integrate with your existing software.
Consider looking for a Bilingual service. If some of your attorneys speak a second language and provide professional services in Spanish, be sure the answering service you employ can assist Spanish-speaking callers as well. This is nearly a requirement in locations where there are a lot of Spanish speakers, and it is a great asset everywhere else.
Also, if your legal practice expands, you want an answering service that can keep up. Therefore, even if you do not require their entire services right now, it is critical to choose a scalable service up front. Instead of demanding you to pay pricey retainers that only cover a specific amount of calls or minutes before hitting you with further charges or penalties, look for plans that allow for increased usage and charge you by the volume of talk time.
Selecting the best answering service for your law firm is a major choice that you should take seriously. Consider your present and future needs, as well as the type of service that would be most beneficial to both you and your clients.
While you are doing your research, be sure to inquire if they have worked with other legal firms before and, if possible, to see testimonials. If you are undecided, always start with a free trial before diving in. This will let you see how the agency operates and confirm that it is a suitable fit.
The benefits of using an answering service for your legal practice surpass any disadvantages. Answering services make you appear professional, provide the illusion of a large organization, and instill trust in your clients when they engage with you. Every client feels valued because you return their calls, implying that no client is valued more highly than others. If you own a law practice and want to increase the number of clients that hire you or trust in your firm, collaborating with an answering service could help you reach your goals.