Inspiring Teamwork in Your Law Firm

Teamwork in your law firm

It’s no secret that current events throughout the world are causing more division than ever and you may be noticing some of that enter the workplace. Opinions differ on social and health issues, politics creep into everyday conversations, and relationships are being taxed. Not to mention that teams that are used to working closely are now being distanced and working from home. It is more important now than ever to instill an environment within your law firm that encourages teamwork and nourishes the relationships within your office.

The Key Elements to Inspire Teamwork

  1. Leadership
  2. Daily Huddle
  3. Open Dialogue
  4. Goals
  5. Benefits
  6. Team Building Exercises

Leadership

Teamwork starts at the top. Without a clear leader, there cannot be effective teamwork. Someone needs to guide the team, set expectations, and encourage the direction of the conversations into productive avenues.

When there is no leader, two things can happen. More than one person fighting for control can quickly become volatile, and on the other end of the spectrum,  nobody leading the team can cause for a lackluster collaboration with no direction. In either scenario, effective teamwork is not the end result. Avoid this by designating a leader who can help to guide collaborations in a way that stays on topic and productive.

Daily Huddle

Meeting daily as a team does a couple of things for teamwork. First, it fosters the bond necessary to trust others in a collaboration. Second, it allows for continued updates on current projects and allows additional input on the progress being made. These daily huddles should not be long, nor should they be without direction. Set the expectation on how each meeting will go and what each team member should come prepared with to ensure that they don’t become unproductive time-sucks.

At Back Office Betties, we keep our daily huddle short and sweet. Each member of the team gets 3 minutes to speak and we have a defined process we work through each day, including a time to bring up any important topics that are needing collaboration. The leader of the meeting has the power to say whether a topic is pertinent to the entire team or if it should be discussed outside of the daily huddle. This helps to keep the meeting focused on topics that are pertinent to the entire team and avoid wasting anyone’s time.

Open Dialogue

Everyone should have a voice when you’re trying to instill an environment that fosters teamwork. There should not be any fear to speak up and every member of the team should have the chance to feel heard.

This means that the leader of the team needs to be receptive to communication and help to encourage members of the team to speak up. If you’re finding that your staff consistently apologize for asking you questions or bringing things to your attention, it might be that they feel that you are not as open for communication as you hope to be.

Let your team know that you are open to talk and they can come to you any time they need, then watch as your team’s collaboration efforts expand.

Goals

Every team needs goals to work towards for efficient collaboration. This is one of the first places to start with teamwork – what goals does the team want to work towards together? Whether that be an improvement of service, creation of a new process, or a way to improve on a current process – set the goal together, and then work towards reaching it as a team.

Benefits

What’s in it for your team when they work together? You might say, “well, they’re helping the company!” But is someone who may be lower on the totem pole really affected enough by the stats in the company to care? What might cause them to want to add to their plate and throw in with the team when they could just keep to themself? How many ideas are sitting out there in an intern’s head because they don’t feel important enough to speak up?

Offering a reward or praise for a job well done goes far to support your team in ways that make them feel appreciated and encouraged to continue working together and finding solutions to problems.

At Back Office Betties, we grant wishes when a member of the team excels or goes above and beyond in their job. Each team member has a wish list of things they want, ranging from Starbucks gift cards to the hot new makeup palette. When management feels that that team member deserves a granted wish, they pick something off of the list and sends it to the team member as a way to thank them for their hard work. This instills a feeling of appreciation and encourages that extra effort when working together as a team to be innovative or solve a problem.

We also regularly shout out our team members for work well-done and push the rest of the team to show their appreciation for their coworkers. Not only are they being acknowledged and encouraged, but their teammates are encouraged to step it up too.

Team Building Exercises

Team building helps foster better communication between team members and also reveals unknown skills and talents that might not be pertinent to a person’s specific job. Building those connections helps when collaborating, as the person you might not think to ask first for help may actually have a background in exactly what you’re struggling with. Or perhaps you discover that a coworker in another department has a thinking style that compliments your own, revealing that you are perfect brainstorming partners.

Team building also helps to keep your team engaged and ready to work. When being around your coworkers is fun and engaging, the conversation flows more easily and brainstorming can happen naturally.

Even though the team at Back Office Betties works in 3 different states and we all work from home, we do annual team building events in each state. We also do monthly video meetings that help us to feel connected to the team members that we aren’t physically close to.

 

Hopefully some of these tips help you to bring your team closer together. If you’re ready to expand your law firm’s team and add a dedicated team of virtual receptionists to your firm, sign up for one week free.

Perfect Your Phone Call Process in 5 Easy Steps

Perfect your phone call process in 5 easy stepsAnswering the phone when it rings. Easy as pie, right? Not necessarily! The way that you answer your phone (and actually ensuring that someone always does) can make or break you when it comes to landing clients. When potential clients are calling a law firm, they are likely running down a list, trying to find anyone who can help them. Attorneys are not scarce and it’s important to stand out by way of communication and customer service. Once you’ve missed their call, it’s likely that you’ve missed their business altogether.

That is Why You Need to Perfect Your Phone Call Process

We harp on this all of the time because it’s that big of a deal. 80% of callers refuse to leave a message. If you only answer half of your phone calls, 40% of your total callers will have moved on and you’ll never hear from them again! Perfect your phone call process so that calls aren’t missed and callers are wowed from the moment they speak to someone representing your law firm.

Determine what times someone is available to answer the phone

When is someone staffing the phone? Do you have a dedicated receptionist? Or do phone calls fall to the attorneys? (Psst, that is a whole other problem!) Determine the hours of the day that every single call will be answered, regardless of meetings or lunch breaks or court dates. Ensure that these hours are regular so that you are not missing any opportunities and set up a proper voicemail box for those after-hours calls that may come through.

Determine what happens when someone can not answer the phone

What happens if the phone rings while your receptionist is in the restroom or out to lunch? If you answer your own phones, who answers while you’re in court? Set up a fall back so that if for some reason the dedicated phone answerer can’t get to a call, it still gets answered.

If there is too much time that the phone is not being answered, an answering service is a great backup. You can adjust your call forwarding to only apply during certain times, covering the phones when you are unable.

Craft a friendly greeting

This is vital to standing out while a potential new client is running through a list of attorneys! Do not answer your phone with “Hello?” or “Law Office”. Make yourself stand out by crafting a friendly and personalized greeting. Something simple and easy to say that states who the caller is reaching and quickly gets to the point for their call. eg. “Good morning! Thank you for calling the law office of Richie Rich. Are you calling about a new legal matter?”

WOW-ing your caller from the start is an easy way to ensure that yours is the law firm they want to hire.

Determine a process for call transfers

If someone else is answering your calls, when should a call be transferred to you versus a message taken? Draft an outline of the calls that are important to transfer and the calls that are not, then ensure that everyone who may answer the phone understands the process. This is also a great time to outline what you want to happen with solicitor calls and how you want to handle new client intakes. Should your receptionist be asking the intake questions or do you prefer to do that yourself? Do you want them to take a message for solicitors or let them know you aren’t interested off the bat? Add it to your outline!

Create a list of client intake questions to be asked every time

Consistency is really important to successful outcomes and communication with your clients. Ask every client a full list of intake questions that help you best attend to their needs, every time. The easiest way to form this list is to determine everything you need to know before you can take any action on their case. Then, use that list to create an accessible form that your receptionist can input the information as she goes. Finally, connect that form to your CRM so you have everything in one place.

Possibly even more important than actually asking the questions, ensure that every answer is clarified. Their name should be spelled correctly and all details double-checked to be sure nothing falls through the cracks.

 

Once you’ve done all of the above, your phone call process will be set up for success! Bye-bye phone stress and hello new clients.

If this sounds like too much work to you, give us a call at (800) 958-8591 and we will work to create the perfect phone call process for your law firm.

How to Automate Your Law Firm While You’re Working From Home

Automate your law firm while working from home

Now that you’re working from home for the foreseeable future, whether you are more or less busy than usual, it is the perfect time to automate your law firm. If you’re more busy than usual, this is important to help you save time and money and bill more of the hours that you are working. If you are less busy than usual, this is the perfect time to dedicate time to making your transition back to the office easier! Pro tip: You can also use this downtime to really hone in on your marketing and automate that, too!

Why You Should Automate Your Law Firm

To some, automation sounds scary and gives the impression that you are taking the personal touch out of everything in your firm. However, our favorite definition of automation is the creation of a system that takes repetitive work off of your plate and allows things to happen seamlessly without you thinking about them. This can absolutely mean that another human does the task for you! Whether you automate tasks that your assistant handles or you outsource tasks completely, you don’t have to take the personal touches out of your law firm. And frankly, you shouldn’t!

Automation provides time freedom and ensures that you don’t need to be working on things that aren’t billable. Once you set up a system, it should be able to run over and over again with only your initial hours invested. Can you imagine how much time and money this saves you?! No need, because we found the facts and figures for you:

According to the Clio Legal Trends Report, attorneys spend an average of only 2.5 hours on billable work per day and only actually collect payment for 86% of those hours. In addition, there is data to suggest that you could save up to 9 work weeks each year by automating the repetitive and non-billable tasks. Imagine the number of billable hours you could fit into 9 work weeks!

Can you picture how much simpler and enriching your workday would be if you could set up processes one time and focus solely on your billable work afterward? You signed up to be an attorney. You’re good at being an attorney. You shouldn’t be wasting time each day sending invoices or answering the phone for solicitors or sending marketing emails. Heck, you really shouldn’t even be spending time intaking new clients!

How Automation Will Help You to Work From Home

Whether you are super busy or pretty slow during this pandemic, you are likely juggling work with family. Not to mention, you’re trying to do it all in the same place with no breaks. You can’t really automate your family but you can absolutely automate your work to make the juggle a little easier.

Consider this. Your phone is ringing but you’re in the middle of typing up a client agreement and your child needs help figuring out a math problem and your spouse is asking what you’d like for dinner and your clients are blowing up your inbox with questions. Wouldn’t this scenario be so much less stressful if your phone was being answered by someone else and you know that your client agreement is already typed up and sends when triggered by the previous task and your email has messages drafted and ready to go that cover most of your client FAQs, you just have to hit send? Phew! That run-on sentence was exactly how chaotic this series of events feels when you’re not automating your firm.

Now you can focus on quality time and the client questions that are only applicable to their case. You can spend more working hours on billable work and research. You can focus on helping out with math problems and cooking dinner. Your phone isn’t ringing off the hook and your clients are taken care of in the background. What a dream!

What You Can Automate in Your Law Firm

This is not an all-inclusive list, but it is a great start! Keep in mind that you can automate just about anything you want to; automation can just be another human doing a task for you. Get creative! Is there anything you absolutely dread doing or that takes up a ton of your time? There is likely a way to automate it.

Client Management

Managing your leads and clients and all of their questions, matters, case notes, etc. can be really tough. There is so much to keep straight! When you use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, things get a whole lot easier. If there is a certain process that happens during client intake or after their first call, CRM makes it really easy to automate it. You can set up tasks that trigger based on certain criteria. Say that you have a new client call: You enter their information which triggers an automated email thanking them for their call and informing them of next steps. Then a task triggers to your assistant to reach out and ask follow up questions. Once those answers are input, another task triggers that informs you of what you need to do for their case. The limit of possibilities does not exist! Not to mention, every step is documented so you can easily see what has been done, what emails have been sent, and what still needs to be done.

Invoicing

Make payment processing easy and painless by triggering invoices to be sent after certain tasks are closed or deadlines are met. You can easily draft common and customized invoices for different items or billable hours and link them to your client management so that they send at the proper times. Some payment processing systems will even send reminders when due dates are approaching or pass by, helping to ensure you don’t miss out on getting paid for your hard work.

Scheduling

There are two great ways to automate your scheduling and client intake. We believe that it is best to implement both!

The first is to have a scheduling link on your website that allows clients to put themselves on your calendar. You can set up a thorough intake process that asks all of the pertinent questions and delivers them to your inbox without anyone having to speak to the client to get it. Ease of access is a big selling point for busy clients so the easier you make things on them, the easier things can be on you!

The second is to have someone else schedule appointments and intake new clients for you. There is nothing billable about grabbing information from a PNC and clients are not expecting to get through to the attorney the first time they call. The smart thing to do is to pay someone else to field those calls and ask all of the pertinent questions, then schedule the caller on your calendar under the appropriate appointment type. This one leads right into our next automation.

Phone Calls

Answering your own phone calls is for the birds. How many times does someone call you over and over again when you can’t (or just don’t want to) answer? What is the number of calls you miss when you’re in a meeting or having a Zoom appointment with a client? What happens when someone calls while you’re eating lunch and just took a huge bite of your sandwich? How often are your kids screaming or your dog barking in the background while you’re trying to be professional on the phone?

Even if you don’t automate anything else while working from home, this one is a must. Having someone to screen your calls and speak to your clients while relaying the important stuff to you is invaluable and saves more time than you could imagine. Whether this person is an answering service (psst, we’d love to help!) or a full-time receptionist, this automation is the number one thing you can do to make more money while also increasing your productivity. Remember – you’re not getting paid to answer the phone for a telemarketer. At the same time, not answering every time is the quickest way to lose a client.

Email

You may be wondering how you can automate your emails when your inbox is overflowing daily. The answer is easy: Set up templates that answer FAQs. You can use a template as an easy jumping off point if more information needs to be added. However, this is a speedy way to quickly answer those frequently asked questions with the click of a button.

Another option would be to hire a Virtual Assistant to monitor your inbox and reply to those FAQs or to screen your messages. This is really helpful when you get an array of emails and need help keeping them straight. We offer this to our clients who are on our Platinum plan and have heard nothing but raving reviews as to how helpful it is.

Social Media Posting

Social media can be frustrating and time-consuming. One thing that really helps to make social media less difficult is to plan ahead. Schedule your posts ahead of time for the month with different tools like Facebook’s Publishing Tools or Hootsuite. This not only saves you daily frustration, but it saves you the time of switching tasks. When you’re on the spot each day, it can take twice as long to actually make a post. Then you have to consider the time spent refocusing on your important tasks at hand.

Marketing

Automating your marketing is a huge time saver and one of the top things you need to automate first. Since marketing is what brings you clients in the first place, it just makes sense to spend the time setting it up to run automatically. Make money when you sleep, baby!

The first step is to ask yourself a few questions. What’s already working in your marketing? Do you have a fantastic lead magnet? Are there marketing emails that have gotten great response in the past? Take all of that and create systems so that everything runs seamlessly without your touch. This takes some time but it is hands down so worth it! And if you’re less busy than usual right now, what better to do than set up some money-making systems?

Set up workflows through your CRM to send email sequences to leads, target your traffic through pixels on your website, and never stop using ads that are working. You can also create a monthly campaign calendar that you recycle each year. This helps to keep your marketing fresh without spending too much time on it every month. Simply create your monthly offers and gimmicks for the year once, then reuse what works.

Relish in Your Newfound Time

We hope this helps offer some insight into how you can automate your law firm and make your day-to-day life so much easier! Use that freed up time to hang out with your family or use it to bill more hours, but whatever you do, quit doing the repetitive tasks yourself. Automation is truly the best thing you can do for your law firm in terms of growth (and keeping your sanity).

If you’d like to chat about how we can help with your phones, please give us a call at (800)958-8591.

Transitioning Your Law Firm to Work From Home

Back Office Betties Law Firms Working From HomeWorking from home sounds like a dream – and it is! But when you’re used to going to the office every day, transitioning your law firm to work from home is not as easy as just bringing home your computer. Who’s answering the phone? Will you be able to transfer calls to your colleagues? How will you communicate with the team you’re used to seeing every day? Will you be able to eliminate distractions? What part of your house will you work in? How will you keep the kids at bay?

You’ve probably already noticed the importance of these questions if you’ve recently shifted your office to working from home. In the case that you haven’t quite figured it all out yet, we’re here to help! Back Office Betties employees all work from home, and we’ve been doing so from the start – 6 years now! We’ve got the experience and the know-how and we’re going to fill you in on some of our tips and tricks on being successful while working from home.

The Basics of Working From Home

Before we get into the meat of actually transitioning your law firm to work from home, there are some basics you should know. Implementing the following will not only set you up for success, but it will also make your workdays feel a whole lot more normal during this period of everything being not normal.

  • Have a Dedicated Workspace

    Set yourself up for success by setting up an area of your home that is only for working. This helps to eliminate the distractions of the rest of your house and also helps to let you stop working when your workday is done.

  • Decorate Your Workspace

    We feel better and work better when we enjoy the space we’re in. Working on a dirty card table in the garage is going to be a whole lot less motivating than a home office with pictures on the walls. If you don’t have a home office, do your best to set up a makeshift office with a desk in another room. Add some flowers or your favorite notebooks to really make it feel like a place you want to spend your days.

  • Get Ready Every Morning

    You may be tempted to roll out of bed late and get straight to work in your pajamas. It’s very very tempting – but trust us! Your productivity and your mood will thank you for making the effort to feel good. Take a shower, make your bed, and brush your teeth. You’ll thank us later.

  • Set Boundaries With Your Family

    Make it clear that your work time is important and interruptions should be very few and far between. Some of our receptionists have makeshift signs on their home office doors that outline reasons you may interrupt and reasons you may not. This especially helps with kiddos who are seeking attention or want to tattle on their sibling and promotes resourcefulness. Obviously this doesn’t work for toddlers but is a great option for setting boundaries with older kids and spouses.

  • Schedule Breaks

    Nothing will burn you out more than staring at your screen for 10 hours. Schedule breaks for snacks and lunch. If you have kids, schedule quick playtime breaks as well. This helps you to fight the parental guilt of saying no to them and also helps you stay connected to your family throughout the day.

  • Dabble in Time Blocking

    If you haven’t tried this method already, it’s a great way to boost your productivity and keep yourself on a schedule. Time blocking is basically a way of scheduling yourself to focus on one task (batching your tasks) for a certain period of time. The thought behind this is that you waste less time by switching tasks and eliminate distractions because you are only focusing on that one thing. This productivity hack also works perfectly with scheduling small breaks as mentioned above!

  • Create a Work Playlist

    Listen to music that helps you focus on a low volume. Make this a part of your routine – sit at your workspace and turn your music on a low volume right away. This will help you get in the zone and subconsciously send triggers to your body that it is time to work.

  • Turn Your Cell Phone Upside Down

    This one may sound really silly but eliminating distractions is truly key to staying focused while working at home. Turning your phone screen face down eliminates those catchy notifications that grab your eye. Checking one message can send you down a Facebook or LinkedIn rabbit hole and nobody needs that! Turn your notification alerts off and only keep the ringer on for phone calls so that you can stay focused without being out of the loop.

Transitioning Your Law Firm to Work From Home

Now that you’ve got some of the basics down and have found some ways that help you stay on task and productive, it’s time to determine the logistics of it all! How will you actually move your law firm into your home office?

First Steps

  • Update your office phone’s main voicemail. You do not want your voicemail to say that you are closed – clients will hang up and find someone else! Instead, let people know that you and working from home and how to get ahold of you. Set each staff member’s voicemail to provide their current contact information.
  • Forward your office phone line to your cell phone. This is usually a pretty simple process and your phone provider can give you guidance on the exact steps to take.
  • Update your website to include new working hours and appointment types. Consider adding an online calendar that allows them to schedule video appointments to your website. This will save everyone time and energy!
  • Alert your clients that office appointments will take place through video conference calls. Set up an account with your favorite video conferencing site and be sure to let clients know how to access your meetings when they have scheduled appointments.
  • Get automated!! Make things easier on yourself by setting up processes that don’t need you to touch them. Automate client emails and follow-ups, automate legal agreements and payment requests… everything that you can. This will save you so much time and headaches while working from home.
  • Set up a chat platform to stay in contact with your team. Slack is perfect for this and has a reasonable price tag.
  • Set up a backdrop for your video meetings. Professionalism doesn’t have to go out the window because you are working from home! Whether it be hanging a plain sheet behind you, setting up in front of your best-decorated wall, or simply adjusting your backdrop with settings on Zoom. Whatever you do, do not take video calls with a huge mess behind you.

Get to Work

  • Create a daily and weekly to-do list. Look at your calendar each week and create a list of vital tasks to complete and/or meeting you have, then segment that list into a daily list. This helps you to stay on track with your goals and not accidentally forget vital tasks. Update and review this every morning!
  • Ensure that your computer is password protected and that you lock it every time you step away. Your client data is private and you want to be sure nobody can mess with your work.
  • Avoid writing anything down on paper. If you must take notes, do so by typing them out on a virtual sticky note or in a Word document. With kids at home, your notes can be strewn about or colored on and that is not a mistake we want to see you make. Trust us on this one ;)
  • Consider hiring an answering service, even if temporarily. If your family is home with you and you don’t feel confident in the ability to answer every phone call without interruptions, consider outsourcing your phones to an answering service. They can screen your calls and schedule your appointments so that all you have to do is show up for appointments.

We hope this article was helpful and makes the transition to working from home easier on you! If you have any questions or are interested in trying out a legal-specialized answering service while you get through this time, give us a call at (800) 958-8591. Stay home and stay healthy!

Managing Your Law Firm in a Pandemic

Managing Your Law Firm Through PandemicManaging your law firm in a pandemic is not going to be anything like managing your law firm when the world isn’t in crisis mode. You have to stand firm in some areas and be much more lenient in others. You have to keep a much closer eye on your financials and be a little more flexible with your employees. This isn’t the same rodeo that you’re used to.

But the one thing that stays true is that you cannot give up! Your clients and our economy need you. Even if courts being closed has put a damper on your incoming cases, you will be highly desired as soon as they open again. It’s important to immediately shift your firm’s management practices so that you can still be afloat when that time arises.

4 Areas Where Your Law Firm’s Management Should Shift in a Pandemic

The key to keeping your firm running through the current worldly events that have shut down so much of the country is to keep your clients, staff, and bank accounts happy.

Support Your Clients Through This Difficult Period

Your clients are your livelihood – without them you are nothing. Now is not the time to be hard on them or force contracts down their throats. Everyone is in a similar boat; we are all struggling in some way through this current period of trauma. It may not look the same for you as it does for your clients, but it is important to understand where they are coming from when they make requests or cop an attitude.

  • Consider being lenient when upholding contract terms. If continuing to pay you will be detrimental to your client, you cannot expect that their experience will be good. You cannot expect that your working relationship will continue without a hitch. It may be in your law firm’s best long-term interest to let the clients go who are pushing back on their contracts. And honestly, do you want to be partially responsible for someone going hungry because you continued to charge them after they shared their situation with you? Save your sanity and your morals, and possibly elicit some rave reviews over your customer service, by letting them go.
  • Offer payment deferments or discounts. If you need to keep cash flowing in, one of the best ways to do so is to offer discounts that keep you working and retain your clients through their financial hardships.
  • Communicate with your clients. If things are changing in your law firm because of the pandemic, let your clients know! Whether that be a change of business hours, revision of policies, change in appointment types – keep your clients in the loop.
  • Encourage your clients to communicate with you. Let them know you are here for them and that they are free to discuss any current concerns with you.

Support Your Employees – Don’t Leave Them in the Dark

If you are realizing that you need to let some or all of your employees go to financially survive the pandemic, let them know as soon as you know. Dragging your feet and waiting until the last minute is just delaying them from getting the government support they can qualify for. Communication is key and relaying the complete truth to your staff is going to earn far more respect than leading them on and providing a false sense of hope.

If you do need to make some lay-offs, provide support to your staff through information. Inform them of the programs available to them in your state and assist them in filling out the forms they need. They are likely feeling a lot of the same stress that you are, so making this transition as easy as possible is going to help tremendously and prove your worth as an employer. You will need to staff up again when this is all said and done – don’t burn your bridges with the people who already know how you like to run your law firm.

However, if you are able to keep your employees on at their typical pay rate, please do so! Set your staff members up to work from home; show them that you prioritize their safety and stability. Not only will you be helping the people that you work closely with every day, but you will also be encouraging their loyalty to you.

Get Ahold of Your Financials

Right now is the perfect time to really take a look at your firm’s banking.

  • What do you spend vs bring in?
  • Is your income being affected by the Coronavirus pandemic?
  • What services are completely unnecessary for your law firm right now?
  • What services could you hire that would actually cut other costs?
  • Do you need to apply for some loans to float you through the pandemic?

Support Your Vendors and Services

If you have planned ahead and have cash reserves, now is the time to use them to help you while also helping the vendors and services that your company uses! Many companies are offering discounts and major deals when you pay in advance for the services you’ll receive in the future. This is a win-win; not only are you getting a great deal but you are helping to support the vendors that your law firm depends on and ensuring they still stand when the current crisis is over.

As an example, Back Office Betties is currently offering our clients a huge savings if they pre-pay for future months on their current plan. This helps us to continue helping them!

If you don’t have the cash reserves, just do your best to keep on as normal. The vendors that serve you rely on their clients’ payments to keep their wheels spinning and many are hurting right now as their clients cut costs.

 

We hope this post proves useful to you and provides you with some much-needed optimism. Have questions or want to chat about how we can help? Give us a call at (800) 958-8591 or reach out on Facebook.

How to Capture More Clients With a Better Intake Process

We want to take a moment to introduce Kat, co-founder of one of our new favorite web calendars, CozyCal. Kat understands the need for efficiency and customer service for a successful business and shares some great tips in this article for boosting both in your firm. In the case of current worldly events, this is proving to be more important than ever!

We all understand that delivering great customer experience is important for businesses to attract leads and build a client base. However, based on Clio’s 2019 Legal Trends Report, even before being faced with the Coronavirus pandemic, attorneys fall short in delivering quality communications to clients. In a study done with 1,000 law firms, a majority of law firms suffer from poor email and voicemail response. Even though law firms are better at answering phone calls, they rarely return calls. And when they do get time to follow up, they don’t provide enough information over the phone.

Clio Legal Trend Report

Source: Legal Trend Report By Clio, 2019

It is alarming that in Clio’s report, among surveyed clients who have contacted a lawyer, 64% mentioned that the law firm they didn’t end up hiring failed to respond to their phone or email. Clients have low expectations for law firms in general. This finding presents a gap between clients’ expectations and what law firms think they can deliver. When firms are delivering substandard customer experience, they risk turning prospective clients away.

But the finding also presents an opportunity for you to work on making your intake process better. If you can run a streamlined client intake process that beats clients’ expectations, your chance of getting hired is much higher than competing firms. So how can you improve your client intake process? There are two solutions that you can try.

1. Hiring a virtual legal receptionist

If you are a solo-attorney or runs a small law firm, answering phone calls during work hours can interrupt your workflow. When you are unable to respond to qualified leads’ voicemails or follow up afterward, you are losing opportunities to acquire clients for your practice.

Hiring an in-house legal receptionist seems to be the most obvious solution. But the cost can be expensive. On average, a full-time legal receptionist’s annual salary is approximately $46,360 USD. When you take into account ancillary benefits such as health insurance and paid vacation, the cost can add up quickly. Moreover, there is the opportunity cost in hiring, training and managing a receptionist. The more time spent on doing these administrative tasks, the less time you have to focus on client work.

An alternative solution is to hire a virtual legal receptionist. This solution offers several key benefits that might make it a more suitable choice for you.

  • Cheaper pricing: Many legal virtual receptionist firms offer tiered pricing plans that satisfy the needs of law firms of different sizes. Back Office Betties is a boutique legal virtual receptionist firm whose plans range from Bronze ($299/month, 100 minutes) to Platinum ($1,599/month, unlimited minutes). If you go over the plan’s limit in call minutes, they simply charge by the minute for as low as $2.59 per minute. If you do the math, the cost of a virtual legal receptionist is much lower than an in-house receptionist. In addition, the monthly subscription-based payment model gives you the flexibility to change your plan easily so you are not locked in with a fixed cost.
  • More Responsive: Legal virtual receptionists provide much better flexibility in responding to calls. Even if lead calls are coming in outside of office hours, they can be taken care of by the virtual receptionists. While some virtual receptionists can take incoming calls after business hours, some can even stand by 24/7 to make sure no calls are ever missed.
  • Legal expertise: Unlike generic virtual receptionists, virtual legal receptionists are trained to understand legal terminology, process, and software. For example, Back Office Betties has their own training program “Betties Legal Academy” that equips receptionists with an essential foundation to communicate with clients professionally. Delivering quality experience to your leads is more likely to win them over for your business.Back Office Betties Pricing and PlansLegal virtual receptionists like Back Office Betties offers flexible and cost-efficient pricing plans to accommodate law firms with varied needs

2. Installing a scheduling tool on your website

Another alternative solution to improve your firm’s onboarding customer experience is installing a scheduling tool on your website. Nearly 40% of all small law firms don’t have websites. And of those firms that have websites, 70% do not have a call to action item on their homepage. As more people are finding information online, it is important for you to make it accessible and easy for leads to reach out to you.

An easy-to-use and reliable scheduling tool like CozyCal allows you to automate your firm’s intake process so you can capture quality leads anytime and anywhere. By automating scheduling, you can reduce the risk of no-shows, customize your intake process and save a great amount of time in the long run.

CozyCal Intake Form Example

By installing a scheduling tool like CozyCal, you can automate scheduling and capture leads around the clock.

  • Capture leads right on your firm’s website: You can create a customized and professional booking experience to capture potential clients. When you deliver an easy-to-use intake process that meets potential leads’ expectations, you are more likely to retain them as your clients. Qualified leads can view your pre-set availabilities with one simple click to schedule free consultation sessions right away. This eliminates the painful back-and-forth calling and email tagging while you can manage all your appointments in one place.
  • Collect information through intake forms: Based on your appointment types, you can create customized intake forms to collect key information from guests such as their full name, email, phone number and reason for consultation. The intake form information is saved automatically so you can always follow up with qualified leads later on.
  • Powerful integrations for streamlined scheduling: CozyCal provides a wide variety of integrations including Clio, Stripe, Google calendar and Microsoft 365 that connects scheduling with your existing workflows easily. If you are using Clio, the Clio integration allows you to sync with Clio’s calendar in real-time, send information collected from intake form to Clio’s calendar events, and automatically create new contacts in Clio.
  • Save cost: If your budget doesn’t allow you to hire someone else to manage appointments for you, a scheduling tool like CozyCal can save you a fair amount of money. Paying only $15 per month, you can automate your law firm’s scheduling and have it onboard new leads 24/7. You only need to convert one captured lead into a client a year to cover the cost of using CozyCal.

Whether you prefer to hire a legal virtual receptionist for the person-to-person interaction, use a scheduling tool to automate intake process on your website, or even combine both solutions, the goal is the same: to leave a good first-impression on leads and provide stellar client experience even at the early stage of the business funnel.

Uncertainty is at an all-time high right now. By adopting these solutions, you can become a more responsive firm that delivers quality communications in a timely manner and provides your clients with a clear process and the support they crave.

When you have a systematized intake process in place that goes above and beyond clients’ expectations, you will be able to capture more clients and grow your firm in the long run.

Back Office Betties’ First Review on Clutch!!

Back Office Betties Review on ClutchHere at Back Office Betties, we have passionately been providing virtual legal receptionist services since 2014. We work with law firms across North America to offer specialized call handling and customer service that cannot be rivaled. Call center services are key in the digital age and continue to expand every day – these skills are being recognized on Clutch, a leading B2B ratings and reviews platform. 

We’re proud to announce that we’ve received our very first review on Clutch!

We received five stars across the board for offering our impeccable legal call center services to this law firm. Our virtual legal receptionists expertly take messages from callers, schedule appointments, accept payments, and schedule follow-up calls when necessary. Our job is to seamlessly handle everything that you don’t have the time for!

We’ve been working with this law firm for three years and have consistently provided them with high-level service. We are so proud that our virtual receptionists have been commended for their accuracy and excellence!Back Office Betties Clutch Review

 

“Back Office Betties is the face of my company: they’re the first people that a new client talks to. People think their team is a receptionist in my office. I’ve never had an issue where someone didn’t end up hiring me because of their communication with the Back Office Betties team… Anytime they communicate with me, they send me a feedback response. They often ask where they can improve, and I can never think of anything.” — Carla McKain, Attorney at McKain Law

 

We’re very thankful to our clients and Clutch for allowing us to showcase our talents to the world.

Based in Washington DC, Clutch’s team utilizes verified client feedback to rank and evaluate companies. We are ranked as one of the best companies for legal voice services on Clutch and their sister site, The Manifest. A research hub for B2B buyers, The Manifest includes industry leaders on a multitude of shortlists and articles.

If you are looking for a legal voice services provider to fulfill all your business needs, Back Office Betties is the place to call! Feel free to call us at (800) 958-8591 or check out our plans today to determine your law firm’s unique needs and learn more about our services. We’d be happy to start transforming your law firm as soon as possible!

How to Choose the Best Virtual Receptionist for Your Law Firm

How to choose the best virtual receptionist service for law firmsSo you’re ready to hire a virtual receptionist for your law firm? Or, you’re ready to at least think about hiring a virtual receptionist. Congratulations! This is a huge step in the right direction for growth in your law firm. We’ve designated 2020 to be a year of growth here at Back Office Betties and we hope to help all of our attorney friends do the same.

There’s a lot to know before you choose the best virtual receptionist service for your law firm. There are countless services that all claim to be the best (we are shamelessly one of them!), so research is key. What are your priorities when it comes to hiring a virtual receptionist? Is it 24/7 call answering? Or can you make do with normal business hours? Do you prioritize high-quality calls or is quantity over quality your motto? Regardless, we’ve compiled all you need to know right here in this handy dandy article!

Why should law firms hire an answering service?

It’s no secret that a phone that never stops ringing is a giant pain in the rear. What is a little surprising, though, is just how much those phone calls interrupt your daily work! Did you know that attorneys spend an average of only 2.5 hours on billable work each day? That makes up only approximately 30% of a typical workday. In addition, according to the 2019 Clio Legal Trends report, only 86% of those billed hours actually get paid.

Do you want to work for free? Certainly not!

The right virtual receptionist or answering service not only frees up your time and reduces your interruptions, but they also help to follow up and collect those missing payments.

Now, you may ask, why shouldn’t I just hire an in-house receptionist to handle all of that?

One of the most obvious answers to that question is: Cost. To hire a full-time legal receptionist, you’re looking at a cost of approximately $4,123.60 per month after factoring in employer taxes and benefits. Add to that the lost income from time spent recruiting, hiring, and training someone, plus the time lost for managing 1 employee (6 hours/week, by the way).

Now spin around and look at pricing for an answering service. With services offering a range of approximately $70 per month up to $1599 per month, even the top plans are going to give you major bang for your buck! The fact that you don’t lose any time managing or recruiting staff is just a bonus. Check out the following graphic we created for more stats on this:

Cost of hiring in-house receptionist for law firms

Is your law firm ready to hire a virtual receptionist?

The first step to hiring a virtual receptionist is deciding whether or not you are ready. If you spend your days frustrated and chronically ignoring calls that come through, the answer is that you probably are! But there are some other key points to consider:

  • Are you ready to hand over the reins when it comes to being the first client contact?
  • Do you want to land more business than ever before?
  • Will you be organized enough to follow up with messages you didn’t take yourself?

If you said no to any of the above, you might not be ready yet! That’s totally okay, but keep in mind that doing the same thing gives you the same results. Bookmark this article and keep researching, but come back here when you feel like you might be ready.

What does your law firm need in an answering service?

Now that you have determined that you are in fact ready to hire, it’s time to figure out your priorities. No two answering services or virtual receptionist services are the same! Some offer extended hours, some offer higher quality calls, some are cheaper, and some are legal experts. Let’s narrow down your priorities to determine what you need to ask your prospects!

  • What are your business hours? When do people typically call you? If you get calls at all hours, you might consider a 24/7 service. If you only get the occasional after-hours call, a business hours only service will be perfectly fine!
  • Do you want help with client intake? Will you entrust your virtual receptionists to intake new clients? Or do you prefer they simply take a message so that you can do the intake at a later date?
  • What is your budget? If you are strapped for cash, you may not have much choice in the matter. You don’t want to overstretch the budget if you aren’t sure you’ll get a return. However, it’s important to keep in mind how many billable hours your answering service will free up (if they take intakes and follow-up off your plate!). Oftentimes the pricier service that offers higher quality call-handling is worth the return!
  • What is the size of your firm? Different services offer different plans and some may be more conducive to smaller or larger firms than your own. Do your research and determine how many people will be receiving messages and/or transfers, then choose your service and plan accordingly.
  • Is your client intake complicated? If you have a lengthy and complicated legal client intake, it is in your best interest to research plans specifically for lawyers. Legal-trained receptionists will help your potential and current clients to feel more comfortable through the intake process. Not to mention, they will be more efficient and understanding of your law firm’s terminology and processes.

Choose the company that best meets your needs.

After considering all variables and deciding what your firm really needs from a virtual receptionist or answering service, and the things you can live without, you can choose the best company for your needs. No single company is the right fit for every law firm, and you might even find that it takes you a few trial runs before you find the company that works best for you! However, once you find that perfect fit, you won’t be sorry. The stress-reduction of trusting someone else with the calls you can no longer handle is worth every penny!

Have any further questions? Feel free to give us a call at (800) 958-8591.

Ready to give our legal-specialized virtual receptionists a try for free? Sign up for a one-week trial here.

The Importance of Ongoing Training for a Successful Team

Betties Legal Academy Ongoing Training

Customer service and our clients’ success are two of Back Office Betties’ biggest focuses as a business. We dedicate our time to bringing you valuable information on how to best manage your law firm, we created a company culture that attracts (and retains) only the most qualified receptionists, and we answer every one of your phone calls with a smile and expertise. In order to ensure that our employees stay happy, knowledgable, and ready to serve your firm, one of the big things that we implement is ongoing employee training.

Ongoing Employee Training Benefits

As time passes, it is likely that policies, trends, and preferences change too. By continuing training throughout your employees’ time with you, they are staying current on policy changes, procedures, and technology. In addition, ongoing training ensures that tenured employees have the same information as new hires. Investing in ongoing training for your employees boosts employee happiness, confidence, and proficiency in their position. In turn, your clients are happier because they are receiving high-quality service from a knowledgable professional.

Boosting Employee Happiness with Ongoing Training

How is it that employee happiness can be so linked with ongoing training? According to CNBC, professionals who were surveyed as “heavy learners” were more likely to be happier, less stressed, more confident, and productive at work. Light learners were 48% less likely to have found a purpose in their work. They were also 47% more likely to be stressed. Stress + lack of purpose = unhappiness.

In addition, 94% of employees say they would stay with a company longer if that company encouraged and allowed them to learn. The younger generations are driving this home with a fierce desire for continued learning. Specifically, 27% of Gen Z and Millenials would leave their job because they weren’t provided enough opportunity to enhance their knowledge and grow.

Are you giving your employees a reason to leave you by skipping over this vital responsibility as an employer?

Investing in Your Employees is Investing in Your Business

Investing in your business feels like a no-brainer. But how can empowering your employees to learn more be considered an investment? Easy! The American Society for Training and Development conducted a study that showed companies who offered comprehensive training profited greatly over other companies. Those companies benefited from 218% more income per employee and had a 24% higher profit margin than those who spend less on employee training.

According to New Horizons Learning Solutions, this is due to increased efficiency and confidence of employees who undergo continuous training. Clearly, they are doing something right!

Client Happiness Soars When Employees are Well-Trained

Reduce turnover, improve consistency, and offer high-level customer service – all are keys to retaining happy clients. Educated employees are more confident and able to help solve more problems than those who are iffy on their company’s policies and procedures. Employees who go through ongoing training are more consistent and follow through on the company’s policies because they remember what they are. In addition, clients like to have stability in who they communicate within your company. Turnover reduces their feelings of trust. Working with a familiar face enhances that trust. When you take all of this into account, it amounts to high-level service that keeps the client and keeps them happy.

Have you ever had an experience with an employee at a place of business who clearly had no idea what they were doing? How did it make you feel? Did you trust them? Did you enjoy doing business with that company? Probably not. You likely wrote them off as incompetent and moved on, right? Avoid that by continuing to train your employees, even after tenure.

Implementing a Training Program

Ready to create an ongoing training program? Start by documenting every step and process in a central place that employees have access to. We love to use Trainual for our initial employee training and refresher courses. It’s user-friendly and allows you to track employee progress, as well as quiz them on the materials they learned. Trainual also alerts employees when a training has been updated! This allows for seamless ongoing training and ensures your team is always up to date on the latest policies and procedures.

When implementing training that exceeds what your company teaches as far as policy and procedure, it’s important to source courses from reputable sources in your field. Take the course yourself before offering it to your team; you don’t want them to be wasting time on a course that turns out to be invaluable or has wrong information. This is also a great way to continue your own learning! Nobody benefits from not learning. Once you have reputable courses and learnings, be sure to offer ample work time for your employees to take them. Set an expectation of how many hours should be spent learning each week so that your team feels comfortable doing so. You don’t want them to feel pressured to learn off the clock! This could lead to resentment or even just blowing it off entirely.

Another great way to ensure learning within your company is to ask for volunteers to share tips and teachings regularly. As they learn, they can share their notes with the team through email, ensuring everyone is up to speed. At Betties, we do this within our team meetings. Everyone shares something they learned that week, as it pertains to their position in the company. This also allows other team members to understand parts of the company that they may not be directly involved in.

Back Office Betties Legal Academy

As you can tell, we love to train our team to ensure the best customer service. This all starts with Back Office Betties Legal Academy! Every new receptionist goes through a two-week program where they dive into legal terminology and process training. We cover the basics of each type of law that our clients practice, as well as the case types within those practice areas. Our receptionists are guided through the training (using Trainual) and are quizzed along the way. Everyone has to pass every part of the training before becoming a true Bettie and getting on the phones with callers, even if this takes a little bit longer than we hoped.

After onboarding training, our receptionists are updated daily on notes from our clients, updates to case types that a client may handle, and feedback on the way that they’ve handled past calls. This ensures that every single receptionist is constantly improving and striving to do their best. We always keep this fun and light with jokes and memes, as well as our favorite Gifs ;) Who doesn’t want to learn when it’s fun? Our culture stays positive because everyone is striving to improve together and we have fun doing it!

In addition to general process trainings, every receptionist goes through training on the call handling process of each individual client. After our clients determine their ideal call flow with our Client Concierge, a training course is sent out to every receptionist who may serve that firm. Getting these calls right is vital so training on them is very important!

Encourage Personal Development Outside of the Company

Of course, part of ongoing training goes outside of the lines of process training. To give our team real motivation to continue bettering themselves, we encourage one hour of paid personal development each week. This can be through taking a webinar, reading a book, or taking a course. We also offer an annual budget for each team member that goes towards any course or seminar they wish to take!

Your team is a family and it’s important for them to be their best selves. They’re not robots and should be allowed the time to develop in any area they feel necessary. As team members learn more, they share more, and the entire team becomes more knowledgable and proficient. Encourage your employees to learn outside of their direct role and they only become more valuable to the team as a whole.

What are your thoughts on ongoing training? Does your company practice this kind of development? Let us know in the comments or take the conversation over to Facebook.

Why Your Company Culture Matters

Why Company Culture MattersYour company culture is a big deal – it’s the actual backbone of your company. A bad one and your business will be in pain, struggling to keep itself ahead. A good one and you’ll be running metaphorical marathons, way ahead of the competition. Why? Because good company culture makes for happier employees and happy employees do better work.

What exactly is company culture?

Company culture can be defined as a set of shared values, goals, attitudes and practices that characterize an organization.

However, it goes so much deeper than this general definition. Anyone you ask will have their own definition of company culture. The measure of company culture varies widely from place to place. But in the end, your employees are the ones who will give you the most insight into what your culture actually is.

We like to think that company culture is a representation of how you nourish your employees. Everything you do for your employees directly relates to their retention, respect for the company, willingness to be flexible, and the impression they leave on your clients. That leaves the question: What do your employees value and what shows them that they’re important to you? Do you offer special benefits, aside from health insurance and PTO? Are you open to criticism? Can employees come to you with new ideas or is everything your way or the highway? It must be clear to your employees that they are valued and important to your business’ success through how you speak to them, how they are managed, and the workload itself. Otherwise, what is the point of the work they do?

Why is all of this important?

If you find yourself constantly struggling to hire and retain employees, your company culture may be to blame. According to FastCompany, more than two-thirds of applicants want to know what the company’s culture is like over anything else when making a career change. That is pretty significant! But when you really think about it, it’s understandable. Who wants to stick around somewhere where they feel undervalued?

In addition, employees who feel there is a lack of respect among colleagues are 26% more likely to quit their job. Cultivating an environment where employees admire and respect each other is one key to good culture. This applies to the entire team, from CEO down. Employees who don’t like their boss are 4 times more likely to find a new job. On the other hand, 60% of employees would rather work with a boss they love for a 50% pay cut than work for a boss they hate at a higher salary.

Not only is turnover expensive, but it also negatively affects your level of customer service. The head of customer and employee success over at JustWorks states that “the best way to support customer happiness is actually to ensure employee happiness first.” He goes on to talk about the correlation of happy employees and higher Net Promoter Scores – the score that gauges how likely someone is to recommend a product or service. To have happy customers, you need happy employees.

Take a look at Google

Google is widely known as an amazing company to work for, as shown here by their ratings on Glassdoor. The reason behind their being such a great company to work for comes down to the culture they promote within. Flexibility, fun, trust, and collaboration are all keys to their company culture and allow employees to feel heard, respected, and valued. The CEO eats lunch in the same room as the rest of the employees. They also offer fun perks like nap pods and free snacks and employees are encouraged to work when and how they want. Employees want to be there and they want to contribute. Ideas flow and work gets done because every member of the Google staff is treated as an equal and important part of their business.

You don’t need to believe us, though. A research team from the University of Warwick explained that “Companies like Google have invested more in employee support and employee satisfaction has risen as a result. For Google, it rose by 37%; they know what they are talking about. Under scientifically controlled conditions, making workers happier really pays off.”

An example of poor company culture

On the other hand, you may have heard about the recent issues with poor company culture at luxury luggage brand, Away. A controlling CEO, lack of independence & privacy, and reduction of benefits all led to extremely low morale and eventually, the CEO stepping down due to backlash from employee unhappiness. Employees were required to make all communications public to the entire team, time off was taken away under the guise of motivation, and the CEO was known to use harsh language to berate staff in front of everyone else. Fear of making a mistake or saying the wrong thing was at the forefront of the staff’s minds. Constant fear of criticism leads to decreased productivity. Decreased productivity leads to reprimanding employees. The cycle is vicious and employees simply do not last at Away. If the business hopes to retain its employees and ultimately succeed, there is work to be done on their culture.

 

Core ccomapny values as related to company culture

Back Office Betties company culture

Emily (CEO & Founder), being the customer service and culture queen that she is, puts both of these aspects of business above all else. In fact, she views both as symbiotic. You can’t have one without the other! Some of the most important aspects towards achieving the great company culture at Back Office Betties are:

  • The use of Culture Index in hiring to ensure that the position someone is hired for is the right fit for their personality type
  • Availability and accessibility of management for discussion of concerns, ideas, and day-to-day chit chat
  • Thoughtful compensation plans and benefit packages, including generous PTO
  • Twice yearly wellness days where we give each employee an extra day off and the gift of pampering
  • Granting “Wishes” for birthdays and going above and beyond or meeting a goal
  • Anonymous OfficeVibe surveys every week to determine receptionist happiness and areas of opportunity
  • Remote work – Every staff member of Back Office Betties works from the comfort of their own home!
  • Team chat that provides means of easy communication and community between team members
  • Team get-togethers in all three of the states our employees live

As you can see, we take our employee happiness extremely seriously. This is not necessarily a complete list but you get the picture. It’s no secret that we love customer service and we’ve learned that a smiling staff is key to delivering! Our receptionist happiness goal is to always be above 9/10 and we hit it nearly every time.

How can you improve your company culture?

If you’ve noticed that your employees could be happier or aren’t performing to the degree you know they’re capable of, consider making some changes. Improving the company culture of your law firm doesn’t require extreme measures. No need to add the expenses of an in-house kitchen like Google right off the bat! Start small.

  • Establish your core values and implement policies that positively enforce them. Involve the whole team in this for best results.
  • Set the example for your company’s core values
  • Smile more in passing
  • Open your office to allow dialogue
  • Create a space that your staff is happy to walk into each morning. If you can’t do that, consider offering remote work opportunities to your highest performers
  • Offer small snacks in the break room
  • Send an anonymous survey to your staff regarding what may help them to feel more valued
  • Give praise when you recognize great work
  • Take some work off of their plate. Allowing burnout is like taking a hammer to your company culture.
  • Be human! Apologize when you are wrong, say thank you when appropriate, and relate to your staff on a personal level

Implementing some of the above is a great first step to getting your team back on track. Once you are able, add in some perks or update your benefits package. Create a reward system for positive reinforcement. You will see increased productivity and a fantastic general shift in work environment!

Have comments to add? What do you do to enforce a good company culture? Let us know!