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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.

When Should You be Outsourcing?

When should you be outsourcing?

A small business owner cannot do it all. Whether you have employees on staff or not, outsourcing is an eventual must. But how do you know when it’s time, or even what you should be outsourcing?

If you are feeling that you are not able to focus on daily tasks within the scope of your profession – it’s time. If there are certain tasks you absolutely dread or that interrupt your day many times – it’s time. If your staff is spending too much time doing busy work or answering phones – it’s time.

What should I be outsourcing?

Anything that can be done on a computer or phone can be outsourced. The real question is: What is your current biggest time-suck? Look at where most of your time is going – do you have to be the one doing that? Is it worth paying an employee to do it? Or would you prefer to outsource at a lower cost?

Outsourcing incoming calls has increased in popularity for small business owners. The key for growth is cutting costs in some areas, to redistribute them to other extents. Thus, causing more revenue to your business.  According to The Staffing Stream, successful small business owners that outsource discovered that they can save 50% on their budget overall.  They also found that they did not lose any quality on the work. Which brings up a good question, am I actually posting this right now? Or did I just outsource my social media presence?

Benefits of outsourcing

One benefit to outsourcing is having fewer employees to manage yourself. You do not have to deal with finding coverage for sick days and planned time off. Having an outsourcing partner ensures you will always have a team of ready and capable workers.

Outsourcing also increases productivity, going hand in hand with more work being done for a lesser cost.

Do some introspecting

Are you getting caught up in taking calls, checking messages, and scheduling? These are all distractions that prevent you from performing your job efficiently. Challenge yourself and take the time this week to evaluate your daily phone operations. Add up the minutes and enlighten yourself about how much time you could be saving throughout the week and further investing in your business.

If you realize you need help in this department, let us know! We will give you a free 7 day trial so you can feel the benefits before committing.

How to get Law Firm Answering Services for (Nearly) FREE

Your phone has been ringing off the hook all day long as you repeatedly hit *ignore* so you can focus on the research you’re doing for an existing client’s case. Maybe 20% of those calls leave a voicemail – 80% of callers don’t think anyone will even listen to their message. Once you have time to call those few people back who bothered to leave you a message, they let you know that they’ve already found representation.

Sound familiar?

When your phone isn’t answered, you’re losing out on clients and money. BT Business estimated in 2014 that one missed phone call averaged out to a loss of about $1575 USD. Obviously this will vary from business to business but it is an alarming amount to lose from one missed call. Don’t let this happen to you!

You don’t need to exhaust yourself and interrupt your important work to answer phone calls, though. You also don’t need to hire a full time receptionist. A legal specialized answering service may be just the thing for your firm!

How to get law firm answering services (nearly) free

When you take into account the loss that is attributed to missing a call, compared to how many calls you let go unanswered, it’s likely that just having those calls answered by Back Office Betties will actually save your firm money and will definitely save you face. At the rate noted above, you only need about 3 new clients to pay for our services for the entire year! Factor in that you won’t have unhappy customers running around declaring that you never answer the phone (Americans tell an average of 15 people about a negative experience) and you can imagine the client growth you’ll fall into.

If you’re interested in giving this option a try, our 7 day free trial is your best option to make sure it’s a fit. Simply enter in some information about your firm so that we know how to answer the phone, who to transfer certain calls to, and what format you prefer for messages. We will then contact you to set up your service and your phone calls will no longer go unanswered!

If for any reason you decide that this service isn’t for you, feel free to cancel right then and there. Once you see the benefits and start hearing the feedback on how professional your firm sounds now, though, we will be here to continue answering your calls and create relationships with your new clients.

Our services are offered through a few different plans, and we never round up, so you aren’t paying us for more time than you actually need.

How many of your calls go unanswered each day?

Find us on social media and let us know!

The Definitive Guide to Hiring an Answering Service

What even is an answering service? Why would a business hire one? Wouldn’t my clients be able to tell they didn’t actually reach my office?

Answering services aren’t a new concept but they are still mysterious. If you’ve ever wondered if you should hire an answering service or virtual receptionist, read on! Back Office Betties is taking this opportunity to answer all of your burning questions, and more.

What is an answering service?

An answering service is a company that answers any incoming calls for your business. They can answer FAQs, schedule appointments, and transfer important calls to you when necessary.

Why should I hire an answering service?

Businesses hire answering services for all different reasons, but the common denominator is that it will save you time. By having someone else answer your phones, you are no longer a slave to your phone and can focus on your actual work.

Answering Service vs Receptionist

If you haven’t hired a receptionist yet, you probably have avoided it due to the cost, right? Receptionists need office space, computer equipment, salary, paid time off, etc.

If you have a business that has constant traffic through your doors, a receptionist may be the right option for you because you need someone greeting people anyway. But for small businesses that don’t have that traffic, an answering service may be the route to go.

An answering service can do everything that a receptionist does (except sit at a desk in your office, of course) for a much lower cost. There is no overhead, no paid time off, and no supplying of equipment.

Answering services offer different services depending on which company you choose to work with, but some of the most popular services offered are:

  • Call Screening (buh-bye solicitors!)
  • Client Intake
  • Appointment Scheduling
  • Calendar Management
  • Answering of FAQs
  • Transfer of Urgent Calls
  • Message Forwarding

Can my clients tell you’re not in my office?

Ah, onto the real burning question! This one depends. If you choose an answering service that bounces back and forth between different types of businesses, maybe. If you choose one that operates like a call center, probably. Choose a niched answering service that specializes in your type of small business and it’s highly unlikely.

Back Office Betties specializes in small law firms and, unless your client is standing in your office when they call, they will not even know the difference!

What should I look for in an answering service?

When looking into hiring someone to answer your phones and assist your business, you want to be sure that the company you are contemplating will offer everything you need.

Can they set appointments? Can they fill out a client intake form? Are they able to send your phone messages to you immediately? What about email management? Do they integrate with your current processes? Can they set up new, more effective processes?

The best way to make sure that these things can all be taken care of is to ensure that you are actually hiring a company that offers virtual receptionist services. Virtual receptionist services are elevated answering services, and can really let you get back to the work that only YOU can do.

Before hiring, check out their reviews

Now that you know to look for a niched virtual receptionist, head to some review sites and see what other businesses in your field have to say. Google reviews are always reliable, but there are also many niched review websites, such as Lawyerist, that can give you a firm grasp on what your colleagues think of any specific company.

Take advantage of a free trial!

Once you’ve narrowed it down to c0uple of companies you would like to potentially work with, sign up for the free trial. A great virtual receptionist service will offer one long enough to actually see the benefits of their service. Back Office Betties offers a 7-Day Free Trial to give you a really firm grasp on what we can do to help you save time and money, while upping your productivity.

 

Good luck on your journey to hiring an answering service!