Call control is one of those things that can make or break your law firm’s operations.
It can mean the difference between chaos and tranquility in your office, and landing a client or losing one.
Unfortunately, it’s not easy to stay in control of calls. And law firms face unique challenges that can even render traditional advice unhelpful.
Maybe you know the struggle of trying to keep a handle on calls well, or maybe you don’t even realize that you’re losing time and money unnecessarily.
In this post:
- The achievable benefits of expertly handled calls
- How uncontrolled calls are costing you money
- An expert’s advice on call control with Back Office Betties’ Operations Manager, Katelyn Koplan
- How to gain control of your calls to get ahead of the competition and reclaim your time
The Achievable Benefits of Expertly Handled Calls
- Give your callers a professional experience
- Turn more leads into clients
- Make more money
- Get better reviews and more referrals
- Keep clients happy and feeling taken care of
- Maintain a stellar reputation
- Outshine the competition
- Complete intakes seamlessly
- Reduce your time on the phone
- Free up your staff’s time
- Save your clients’ time
There’s a lot to be gained from taking control of your phone calls. And there’s a lot of money to be lost by staying out of control.
How Uncontrolled Calls Are Costing You Money
Time is money and your uncontrolled calls are adding up.
When You’re Answering Phones Yourself
If you’re in a position where you’re the one taking calls for your firm, there is definitely no time to waste.
It’s likely that your firm is still small, if not solo. Presumably, you’re handling a lot of other administrative work as well.
The longer you spend on phone calls, the less time you have for billable work! You don’t have time to chitchat. Keeping calls short, sweet, and to the point should be your top priority.
You don’t have time to chitchat – keep calls short and sweet so you can get back to work.
When Your Office Staff Is Answering Phones
Having your office staff taking calls for you is a step up from handling them yourself…
But legal staff are expensive. You can’t afford to have them on phones all day. The more effectively your team can control your phone calls, the more time they’ll have for important administrative work.
You’re ready to stop losing money – but how can you take control of your phone calls?
An Expert’s Powerful Techniques and Advice to Control Your Phone Calls
Katelyn Koplan, Back Office Betties’ Operations Manager, is indisputably a call handling expert. It was her own natural ability and skilled work that lead her to where she is today: Not just managing and training the Back Office Betties team, but operations as a whole.
Attorneys are pretty busy. What’s your advice for staying in control of calls to avoid wasting time?
Katelyn Koplan: If I am running into someone who is very emotional or stuck in the right side of their brain, I will do a simple method of asking three very factual back-to-back questions that usually just require a confirmation or a yes or no. Doing this takes them into the left side of their brain and gets us back on track to facts and logic.
Also, being “nicely aggressive”. You are in control of the call. When we let others take control of the call through filling silences or storytelling, we are no longer in control.
If the call is a planned meeting, set an agenda and adhere to that agenda! Include timed sections for each discussion and a solid end time. It’s nice to be able to give a reason like, “to stay on agenda and respect everyone’s time”.
Is it really possible to collect all the information needed while keeping calls short and sweet?
Katelyn: Yes of course! The left vs. right side of the brain strategy works best. I also like to ask my questions back to back to back. Then at the end of the call, confirm that I got everything correct.
If you allow room for silence in between, people will fill that void with stories or more unneeded information because silence makes people uncomfortable.
What is a Chatty Cathy and how can you avoid being trapped by callers?
Katelyn: Chatty Cathys are callers who go on and on. You might feel like you’re struggling to get through the call. The details that Chatty Cathys have are usually just extra information that would be best as part of the conversation during their consultation.
A Chatty Cathy can also be someone who is very emotional and needs reassurance or guidance. Find out what they want from the outcome of the call and provide that if you can.
Do you have any advice for screening out solicitors?
Katelyn: These are my favorite! I know of only two solicitors that ever got through my screening process.
I never ask a solicitor if they are a solicitor. They will always tell you no. The best phrase to use is “Are you calling to introduce yourself or your services?” even for the most advanced solicitor, that question is hard to get around honestly. If they say they are, of course, we send them on their way.
If they are calling from places like Avvo, LexisNexis, Yelp, etc.. in some cases your staff might not be familiar with which accounts you do and don’t have. Asking, “Do we have a current paid account with you?” works best. They might be calling to offer marketing or to win back your services.
After our statements, we will wish them a great day, ask them to add our number to their do not call list, and disconnect.
Being a solicitor is difficult work. We still want to remain kind and respectful. I find it best to just end the call because often they will go into “Can I get your email? Can I talk to someone else? Is there a better time to call back?”
Betties’ Receptionists are experts on call handling. What do you think sets them apart?
Katelyn: Our team is trained on legal lingo and personally trained on all new client accounts. They’re not going from answering calls for a doctor’s office, to a CPA’s office, to a restaurant, to a law office… We are 100% focused on small law firms.
Our team is also taught to place quality and customer service first. We will only hire those who capture their warmth and kindness over the phone.
Our receptionists are your office’s first impression and your MVP. When a possible new client is calling a list of attorneys, they are going to remember that friendly, empathetic, and kind receptionist that they spoke with at your office!
. . .
How to Stand Out From the Competition by Taking Control of Your Phone Calls
While your callers call firm after firm, you’ll be sure to stand out.
Develop a Script
Those numbers are staggering. Ensuring contact information is collected is the most basic procedure, yet isn’t happening. But admittedly, it’s hard not to miss something when you’re busy and pulled away from your work.
Developing a script can help.
Of course, you’ll want to include generic questions like name, phone number, and email.
But to really get a leg up on the competition, build an intake script that you can complete on the first call to turn potential clients into clients.
Law firms fail to collect emails 86% of the time and phone numbers 45% of the time on the first call.
Clients that complete an intake on the first phone call are invested in your relationship and much more likely to choose you over a firm that didn’t even ask for their email.
Some more benefits of using a script:
- The same information will be collected for every call
- Your firm can maintain a consistent professional reputation
- You can save time by eliminating the need to call back for more information
- Streamlines transferring information to your CRM
- Acts as a template for taking charge and controlling your phone calls
Take (and stay in) Control of Your Phone Calls
What does it mean to take charge of a phone call or to be the one in control?
Being in control of a phone call means you are the authority that’s choosing the direction of the call: Where it’s going and where it’s been.
- Ask questions back to back
- Don’t leave empty silence
- Know what the caller wants and guide the conversation to that outcome yourself
An authoritative call means a better experience for the client or PNC. Because you appear professional and on top of it, not like you are in the middle of something else or their call is a burden on you.
Asking precise and quick questions without leaving time between will lower the stress of the caller by increasing their confidence in your ability to handle their case.
Keep Calls Short and Sweet
What makes phone calls long in the first place? For law firms, it’s usually the client to blame.
Potential clients call in ready to tell you every detail of their case and the full timeline of events – when all you really need is a quick synopsis.
Keeping calls short and sweet:
- Benefits you and your staff by wasting less time and allowing you to get back to work
- Benefits your client by giving them a quicker stress-free call making them feel in good hands
If a potential client feels the need to share a detailed chronicle of their story, they’re feeling stressed. They think you need all of that information.
So give them a break! Let them know there’s no need to stress further, all you need is a quick summary and you can take care of it from there until the consultation.
Your time is valuable. Don’t let anyone hold you hostage on the phone.
Screen Out Solicitors
It’s typical for law firms to receive solicitation calls. If they’re not dealt with quickly, you’ll find that you’ve wasted time and interrupted your work for nothing.
Have a plan.
- Know your verbiage.
- Make sure your staff is aware of your policy.
- Don’t be afraid to be firm but polite with a caller.
- Question the caller right away. (You should be able to determine a suspected solicitor within the first few seconds of a call.)
- Keep your staff cognizant of the accounts you have open.
Make sure your staff isn’t afraid to be firm but polite with solicitors.
Don’t ask a suspected solicitor if they are a solicitor. Not only are they likely to lie (there are plenty of other titles that solicitors will give themselves), but this is where a lot of people become hesitant fearing being impolite or making the caller upset.
There are more effective and polite questions that even the most nervous of your staff members will feel comfortable asking:
“Are you calling to introduce yourself or your services?”
“Are you calling to introduce your business?”
“What company are you calling on behalf of?”
“Do we currently have a paid account with you?”
Okay, but maybe you are interested in hearing about solicitations.
Make sure whoever is answering your phones takes a short message – and doesn’t transfer the call to you. If you’re answering your calls personally, it’s a bit trickier, but don’t be discouraged.
It’s a solicitor’s job to sell you on their product or service. They want to pitch to you today, and they will still want to pitch to you tomorrow, next week, next month… you get it.
Solicitations are never an urgent matter and should never be interrupting your work.
Consider a Virtual Receptionist
Did you see that coming?
A legal specialized virtual receptionist can control your phone calls eliminating the stress on your firm.
Back Office Betties’ Receptionists… for example… are expert call handlers.
- Relentlessly friendly and professional
- Comfortably screen out solicitors
- Skillfully collect the information needed from callers in short, friendly calls
- Always stay in authority during calls
- Ready and in the zone for every call
- Make callers feel cared for and important
Outsourcing your call handling will:
- Free up your staff so they can get their work done
- Ensure every call gets answered
- Give you peace of mind knowing your calls are being taken by the experts themselves
- Give you back your time (Why not do some work you can get paid for? Maybe go home before dark this Friday?)
Sound like something that could benefit your firm? Request a call with our Growth Solutions Strategist to learn more about how our receptionists can customize your call handling and control your phone calls.