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 reach out in the comments or over on Facebook!

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!

What We Learned From a Bomb Threat

What we learned from a bomb threat

Bomb threat. Such a scary phrase, but also one that doesn’t feel quite real. You hear about bomb threats, sure, but it’s not often you are in the middle of one.

A few days ago, one of our receptionists answered a call for a client with multiple locations within the U.S. The caller told our receptionist that he had a bomb set to go off at our client’s location. We take threats extremely seriously at Back Office Betties due to Emily’s experience with violence in an attorney’s office and the increased risk of violence towards attorneys, so our receptionist was quick to take action.

Real-Life Experience with Violence Towards Lawyers

Emily, our Founder and CEO, was made aware of the bomb threat situation and immediately flashed back to her experience in 2005. Around lunchtime on that January 24th, Emily became witness to a murder-suicide in the law firm she worked at. As she heated up her lunch in the second-floor break room, Emily was blissfully unaware of the way her life was about to change. The receptionist came flying up the stairs, the words “Get out!” jumping off her lips. She frantically ushered people towards the exit at the back of the building. They’d had fire drills before, so Emily stood by and waited for her lunch to finish before she would leave. The words “gunman… in the building” interrupted her thoughts. With no frame of reference for this type of situation, time stood still. It felt as if it took several minutes for these words to sink in. Once they did, Emily passed her cubicle, grabbed her purse, and joined her coworkers down the back stairwell.

The group watched as police surrounded the building, attempting to trap a gunman. A gunman who had just walked right in and shot one of their beloved attorneys. As they stood by, the armed man realized he would never make it out and turned his gun upon himself. The attorney who was slain had a child on the way and they later learned that the person who killed him was his own father in law. In one day, a young mother lost her husband and her father, by the same hand.

After this experience, the importance of policies and procedures for this kind of thing became apparent to Emily. Blissful ignorance of the ugliness of the world had been lost forever. It’s best to be prepared, regardless of the likelihood of a threat and there is no time to waste in trying to determine the validity.

Reacting Swiftly to Threats of Violence

When the receptionist realized she was handling a threat this week, she immediately alerted her manager. This manager listened in on the call while attempting to reach our client, urging them to call 911. It was near impossible to know who to call due to this client having locations all over the United States – the exact location being threatened was unknown. However, once it was clear that we were unable to make contact with the client, our manager contacted her local 911 and they directed us to the FBI.

Eventually, the caller made his location known and the FBI was able to contact the proper local authorities and deescalate the threat. Whew! What a whirlwind.

Though our team handled it well, this event revealed that our process to handle threats wasn’t quite perfect. The employees at Back Office Betties had not dealt with a true threat of this nature before. We’ve since done a little more research and now have trainings in place for every member of our team.

Regardless of incomplete training, our manager and receptionist perfectly exhibited one of our Bettieisms: Resourcefulness. They acted professionally, kept the caller on the line, and went through all of the proper channels in the background.Bomb threat towards lawyer risk evaluation

What We Learned From The Bomb Threat

  1. We have an amazing team that knows how to think on their feet.
  2. It’s important to have policies and procedures in place for any kind of potential threat.
  3. Our clients need to have their own safety policies and procedures in place.
  4. There are different levels of bomb threats, from low risk to high risk.
  5. Every threat towards an attorney should be taken seriously until proved otherwise.
  6. Calling 911 only works locally – it’s important to call the nonemergency line local to our client and let them patch us over.
  7. Threats of violence are scary, even if they turn out to be a false alarm.

Resources to Keep on Hand in Case of Bomb Threats

In the event your firm ever has to experience a threat of this nature, we’ve compiled some helpful resources. You can never be too prepared!

Page 2 of this USDA procedure sheet offers a checklist for bomb threats by phone.

This Department of Homeland Security brochure covers proper procedures and a threat assessment.

This article goes over some steps to identify potential issue clients and offers ways to protect yourself.

 

Do you have anything to add on this topic? Leave us a comment or send us a message on Facebook.

Making Customer Service a Priority Only Boosts Your Law Firm’s Success

Customer Service Should Be Your Top Priority

There’s no dancing around it – with the internet at our fingertips, we can easily find multiple sources to provide any given service for us anytime we need. This can make it difficult to stand out among your competitors. But all of the marketing campaigns and advertising dollars spent mean absolutely nothing if you can’t deliver an experience unlike the rest! In an age of quick service and automation, people are feeling an increased need to be heard. They are missing that personalized service that goes above and beyond – so let’s do what we can to bring it back! You’ll be the most popular attorney in town after implementing these tips.

Focusing on top-notch customer service is the key to landing and retaining clients for your law firm.

Let’s face it. There are only so many practice areas for attorneys. Once each of those is filled in a geographic region, there needs to be a reason for a potential client to choose one estate planning (or criminal law or family law… you get the point) attorney over the other. This is where top-notch service comes in! Your clients will almost always gravitate towards the person who makes them feel the most comfortable with their case, keeps them informed, and speaks to them at a human to human level.

How can I improve the customer service my law firm provides?

We’ve talked before about the number one bar complaint being a failure to communicate. The first place to start when upping your customer service ante is by making sure that you are keeping your client in the loop with every step! Received their inquiry on your service? Automate an email to let them know what to expect from your firm. Completed their client intake? Send them an email with a recap and timeline of the next events. Working on their documents? Have your assistant reach out to let them know about their progress and when they will hear from you next. Communicate every detail so that your clients understand the (sometimes) scary legal processes. Not only does this make them more comfortable with you, but this will also save you time and headache later when they aren’t blowing up your phones for answers!

Take your communication one step further.

A large part of customer service is proving that your clients can trust you. To do this, you need to go over the top with communication, organization, and professionalism. Do you answer the phone with “Hello?” or is it more like “Thank you for calling XX Law Office, how can I assist you?” Answer this: Which one would you be more likely to trust?

Set a process in place that everyone who answers the phone must follow. We call this a Call Flow Blueprint and create one for every law firm we work with. Start by asking yourself the following questions, then put them all down to paper.

  • What types of calls would you like immediately transferred to your office?
  • How soon will you handle client messages?
  • Can your receptionist relay quick details on their case to provide the client with some instant gratification?
  • What about a timeline process that you follow so that your clients can know exactly what stage they are in and what to expect going forward?
  • Is your payment schedule easy to understand?
  • How do you handle scheduling for potential new clients? What about follow up appointments for existing clients?

It’s a lot of work to keep your organization in check and instill trust through your communication. But your clients will thank you for it, and to be honest, so will your bank account!

Okay, so now you’re being sure to communicate. What can you do past that?

A law firm isn’t a fruity place where you can offer cucumber mint water in the waiting room. Or is it? Nobody wants to need your service. If anything, they hope to avoid needing to speak to a lawyer forever! Sorry to say it but you are right there with the dreaded auto mechanic – people don’t want to have to need you. Since they do need your service and are probably unhappy about it, the least you can do is make it a more enjoyable place to spend an afternoon. Pull out the cucumber mint water, set a cookie tray on the coffee table, keep the magazine stack updated, and have some enjoyable music playing in the waiting room. Do what you can to make your clients feel better about needing you before they even step into your office.

The most important step to stellar customer service in your law firm.

Alright, so now you’re communicating and you’ve freshened up the waiting room to your office. What’s left to create a stellar experience for your clients and potential clients?

Relentless Friendliness

If there is one thing that stands out more than anything in customer service, it is being friendly and polite. Someone can be quick to forget that you made a mistake or didn’t follow up with them but they will never forget that you were rude or short – on the phone, in person, or especially in a curt email. We all know the world isn’t always kind. Negativity spreads like wildfire through social media and it is the fastest way to get bad press for your firm.

Stand out instead by:

  • owning up to your mistakes
  • asking for documents or needed information nicely
  • apologizing when you are wrong
  • smiling when you speak
  • checking to be sure that your wording is coming across as friendly as possible

You want to be professional but you also want your clients to view you as someone on their side. Being friendly, compassionate, and understanding is the first step to doing so!

 

Feeling inspired by this post? Make one little change to your law firm today that pushes your customer service over the edge!

If you’re ready to truly wow your customers with impeccable customer service at the hands of relentlessly friendly virtual receptionists, sign up for a one-week free trial. Your clients will definitely notice the difference!

How to Have a Stress-Free Holiday Season Without Losing Business

Stress Free Holiday Season

The holidays are a joyous time to spend with your family. Whether that means intimate time with only your immediate family or an elaborate gathering of the entire extended crew, you want to be present and enjoy yourself, right? As an in-demand attorney with cases that don’t wait and callers who don’t quit, it may be hard to get that time away that you (and your family) crave. So what do you do?

Automate Everything in Your Law Firm That You Can

The key to being able to step away from your firm when you need a well-deserved break is automation! When I say automate your law firm, I don’t mean that you need to have a robot set up to push buttons and auto-reply emails. Automation is simply having a system in place that allows you to not have to continuously do the work. This can mean robots, or it can also be a system that triggers humans to act on a task.

What Can I Automate in My Firm During the Holidays?

The answer to this one is easy! Any and everything. Whether it’s having your emails answered, your phones picked up, appointments scheduled, forms filled out, the office cleaned, payments processed…set it and forget it. At least, until the holidays are over and your family is ready to send you back to the office!

Automation doesn’t have to stop with the holidays, however. So many tools are meant for long term use and can help you to save time and make more money all year round. If your family wants to see more of you all year, make it possible by investing in systems that allow you to focus on the work that only you can do. Support work doesn’t have to be your job, too.

Our Favorite Tools to Automate Your Law Firm


The following list is not a complete list of what’s available to you when looking to automate your law firm, but it is definitely a great start. We chose some of our favorite ways to help you relax a little more and get some quality time in with the family. So long to being glued to your desk during the holidays – unless that’s where you prefer to be!

Robot at computer

Client Facing Tools

Clio Grow – Your very first step to automation is going to be investing in a software that handles your clients and their information. Starting out with a CRM like Clio Grow will set you up on a path to success (and a whole lot less paper shuffling). CRMs such as this one manage your clients from intake to court. This allows for a one-time setup of tasks and required paperwork, then every new piece of information will trigger the next step. The steps can function on their own with templates or you can assign certain parts to different members of your team, such as the initial phone conversation.

The biggest benefit to an automated system such as Clio Grow is that you can automate all of your client forms. Need them to fill out an intake form? Clio Grow will send them their customized form at the click of the button, then trigger the next actions after they return it. Fee agreements? Clio Grow starts with a template and inputs all of the required information based on case type and client intake forms, then will send it out on your behalf. Once signed, the client can send it back and trigger the next step in your process.

Zendesk or Freshdesk- Communication is an important part of your clients’ experience. You want them to know you understand their problem and you are working to fix it. Clearly going dark over the holidays isn’t going to work – your clients may riot. Instead, manage all communications in a platform such as Zendesk or Freshdesk that allows all emails, social media, and chat to be located in the same place. You can set up templates that reply to specific questions and automatically assign specific inquiries and communications to other team members.

Scheduling Tools

Acuity – Scheduling can be a nightmare with lots of back and forth emails trying to match up your availability to your clients’. Remove all of that with Acuity and in turn, gain some freedom. You can adjust your availability 24/7 and only show your clients the calendars you want them to see. Acuity also helps with client intake as you can set specific questions they must answer at booking – no follow-up call needed. Acuity will also automatically add your scheduled client’s appointment to all of your calendars and will allow them to pay any fees right then and there.

Social Media Tools

Facebook Publishing Tools – If you regularly post on social media to keep client traffic up, schedule all of your posts! This is an amazing way to free up time ALL of the time, not just over the holidays. When you sit down and create a calendar of content to post (which you should be doing for ultimate productivity), add on half an hour or delegate an assistant to schedule them. Yet another set it and forget it – and an easy one at that!

Postfity – Along the same lines as Facebook scheduling, Postfity is a tool that allows you to schedule LinkedIn posts. It’s free and easy to use – link your account and schedule out your next few weeks’ worth of content. While Postfity does not work to post articles, you can write and draft all of your upcoming articles in LinkedIn, then hit publish when you’re ready. LinkedIn is a hot marketing tool for professionals so if you’re not using it yet, be sure to start!

Do It All Tools (Plus Easy Setup)

Back Office Betties – You already know we have to toot our own horn here – we are the ultimate vacation tool. There are no contracts so you are free to utilize us as you please, even if that means just for the holidays. Our Client Concierge walks you through a seamless process that keeps you free to enjoy your yams and pecan pie. We’re known for answering the phones, sure, but did you know that we also offer Virtual Assistant services and scheduling? Think of the Betties as your team that can be there, even when your firm is closed. Every message will be waiting for you, appointments scheduled, and intakes done. We can even accept payments and make case update calls to your clients. Step in and out of your firm like you own the place. Hint: you do ;)!

Unsure if Back Office Betties can really take that much off your plate? Give us a try for 7 days – FREE. No gimmick, no credit cards. Just allow us the pleasure of helping you help your clients, even if it’s while you sit on your couch.

 

How to Start Your Law Blog

Law Blog

Blogging has been around for quite a while but it feels like it’s starting to gain more traction all over again. If you haven’t jumped on the blogging train yet, you’ve probably at least read your fair share of blogs. I mean, you are reading this one right now, right?

Blogs can be many things, from a recipe source to a guide on the latest fashions. When done properly, they are a hot resource for quick and digestible information.

So why should you consider starting one as a lawyer?

Blogs make you visible.

By starting a law blog, not only are you getting yourself out there to provide value to your potential clients, you’re boosting your website’s presence on Google – the king of search engines.

But why should I provide value to my potential clients for free?

By giving value to your potential clients for free, you’re allowing them to get to know, like, and trust you. They can then implement a tip you’ve given and say, “Oh hey, that attorney’s advice worked for me!” which will keep them coming back for more.

How does blogging help me get visible on Google?

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) boosts your website by pulling keywords from your website’s text and listing your site pages under relevant keyword searches. If you blog about fighting speeding tickets in Minneapolis, your post will appear in searches that people make about how to fight a speeding ticket in Minneapolis.

How to start your law blog:

  1. Start with your website. Which platform do you use? With WordPress, it is insanely easy to start your blog because it is likely already built into your theme. You’ll simply create “Posts” when you’re ready to make a new blog entry. If you notice that your posts don’t look nicely formatted, you may want to speak with your developer to set that up. If you used a ready-made theme to set up your website, this should not be a problem as blog post formats are built into most themes. Also, be sure that your website’s menu shows your blog page so people can find it easily when they visit your site. Don’t have a website yet? You need to create one! This is your best tool for finding clients and a necessity for your law blog.
  2. Get to writing! You have all kinds of knowledge and experience. Share it! Writing blog posts doesn’t have to be excruciating. Make a list of topics you want to cover, pick one, and start vomiting every thought you have about it onto your keyboard. Editing can happen later – just get your thoughts onto the screen!
  3. Look at your formatting. Do you have photos in your post? What about headers and other formatted text to break things up? You do not want your posts to look intimidating to read – people will skip right over them. Bold your keywords, add relevant photos (be sure to add a Featured Photo, too!), and break your lines up so that the content is skimmable.
  4. Check on your SEO. Your blog is most useful in attracting potential clients when it can be easily found, right? Make sure to use relevant keywords throughout your post, add inbound/outbound links, and keep your text easy to follow. For added help, you can download the Yoast plugin to your WordPress site and it will guide you in best practices that will help boost you in search results on Google.
  5. Launch your blog! Now that you’ve written, formatted, and SEO-ified your first post, it’s time to launch! You don’t need a lot of content on your blog before going public with it. Get eyes on your content right away and if they like what you’ve written, it will keep them coming back for more. To do so, announce your blog on your firm’s social platforms, LinkedIn, and even your personal platforms. Encourage your followers to like and share.
  6. Keep it up. Don’t write one post and bail on your blog. Your website loves the boost of content & the added keyword searches you’ll show up in, plus your potential clients are hungry for your knowledge. Stick to a schedule and continue pumping out the value that people are searching for.

Now go for it!

Hopefully this information has given you the gusto to actually start your law blog and give your potential clients some insight into what you’re knowledgable on. So now that you’ve read what you need to do, it’s time to actually do it! Sit down at your computer and let the (word) vomit fly.

Do you currently have a law blog? What are your favorite topics to cover in it? Let us know.