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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.

5 Ways to Shave Off One Working Hour Each Day

What could you do with an extra hour in your work day? Would you cut your day short to spend more time with your family? Would you be able to take on extra cases? How about start working on that new venture you’ve been thinking about? We’ve compiled a list of 5 simple ways to shave off one working hour each day.

Save Time in Your Day

  1. Batch your tasks.

    The first tip on the list is one of our favorites. If you are not familiar with batching your tasks, this means to sit down and block out certain chunks of times for similar tasks. Say you need to return client messages: Block out 2 hours to do so and get them all out of the way for the week so that you can move on and cross this off your to-do list. When we switch between tasks repeatedly, our productivity levels go down and we waste time on getting refocused. Batching tasks is a fabulous solution!

  2. Eliminate distractions.

    If you are ready to sit down and batch your tasks, it is important to use your time wisely without getting distracted. Turn your phone over so your notifications don’t grab your attention, lock your office door so nobody interrupts you, and stay off of social media. This goes back to bouncing between tasks; stay focused to save time!

  3. Plan your day in advance.

    You may never be able to predict an urgency that pops up, but you can do your best to plan your day in advance. Sit down and block out time slots for certain tasks, take account of important appointments, and have a strong overview of the day ahead. Try not to stray, as this really affects your productivity and can quickly add time to your work day.

  4. Hire an answering service.

    Phone calls are a total time-suck. If you try and do other things while on the call, your client will notice they do not have your full attention. If you try to take every single call, your day can float right on by you and you find yourself still at the office at 9 pm because your work isn’t finished. Hiring an answering service gets your calls answered and important messages delivered to you, without the need for you to talk to every single caller. Hello, time freedom!

  5. Schedule some R&R.

    This may seem counterintuitive, but a brain that is always go go go will never be as productive as the brain that has space to decompress. Be sure to schedule some time to do something you enjoy in order to have yourself in your best state of mind. Rest and relaxation will keep you functioning at your highest levels and save you time in your overall productivity.

Implement These Time-Saving Tips

Which of these tips will you take on first? Start with at least one today and see just how much time you can save!

If you’d like to gain some insight on the time freedom that comes with delegating your phone calls to an outside party, sign up for a free 7 day trial with Back Office Betties today.

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!

 

Betties Book Brief

Want a massive social following in your business?  Who wouldn’t!

Back Office Betties had the great pleasure of reading One Million Followers by Brendan Kane and we just had to share it with all of you!  Kane gives great insight on how to take advantage of many different social media platforms.  His growth hacks for your business and your brand make this book a must read.

Betties Take-a-Ways

This book has a wealth of knowledge!  Here are our top 5 take-a-ways pertaining to Facebook:

  • Facebook is used to share more content than email or any other online social platform. No matter how many followers you have, Facebook only shows content to 2-5% of your audience.  What’s the determining factor?  How engaging and relevant your content is.  Your content must resonate with your audience.
  • Create ads specifically to get more likes/followers on your page. Be careful not to limit your demographics when testing ads.  A great example was given about Chatbooks in the book.  They wanted to target mom’s 45 years or older who liked scrap-booking, photography, and motherhood in a Mother’s Day ad.  Instead of age targeting, they used a broad range on age and found that younger people were sharing the ads with their moms to start a conversation.  This in turn created an organic reach to the intended demographic.
  • Have a great headline with a great hook point. Ask yourself, if your potential customer is walking down the street and passes a newsstand with 100 articles, what headline would they stop to read?  It should be relevant, interesting, and meet the needs of your audience.
  • If you do ads on Facebook, do not raise the spend limit if the ad is doing well.  Facebook will reset the cost in auction and your costs will increase.  Instead, duplicate the ad and create a new one.  It’s recommended to have a budget of $11 to $25 daily on ads.  For the most part, your page ads should not cost more than $0.10 per ‘like’.
  • Use the 80/20 rule when posting.  Make sure 80% of the time your content is share worthy and 20% of the time your asking for a sale or promoting your business.

Believe us when we say this is just the tip of the iceberg on all the information given.  It also features in-depth interviews from marketing experts, celebrities, and influencers.  This book could be helpful taking your firm to the next level you’ve been wanting!

Back Office Betties

Social Media: Content is King!

 

Mastering the art of social media can be tricky, especially when you’re not sure what to be posting. What should we be sharing? How do we keep our customers engaged? These are the questions that can keep a person up at night!

Well…. maybe not that extreme, but it can be stressful trying to run successful business and your social media accounts.

5 Things You Should Do When Posting

Check out these quick tips for posting good social media content:

  • Post information that you think is valuable to your customers. In order to do that you must know and understand your customers. Who are they? What are their demographics? Why are they following you? Don’t be afraid to ask them directly what kind of content they want to see more of!
  • Share posts with a variety of information. Share articles you were featured in, press releases, or links to your blog posts. Also post articles you find interesting, videos, photos, or stories. Stay engaged and be willing to branch out on your topics.
  • Try not to over post or under post. This is a fine line to walk, and it’s all about balance.
  • Prepare a social media content calendar. Planning will prevent the day to day stress of trying to figure out something to post so you can focus more time on the quality of your content.
  • Begin or end your posts with questions. This will get your followers engaged and potentially generate comments. Which will further help you learn more about your customers/ followers.

Social media doesn’t have to be scary or intimidating. It’s just another tool at our disposal to network and market. Offer content that you yourself would want to read.

Most importantly, have fun with it and keep it interesting!

Back Office Betties

Your Social Media Accounts

Personal vs. professional social media accounts… how do we navigate managing all of our profiles!? The answer… very carefully. On our professional accounts we carefully choose the pictures we post, we write and rewrite captions, and we make sure what we share aligns with our company morals and values. If you think your personal profiles should be treated any differently, you’re wrong.

Even though your personal social media account may serve a different purpose – staying in touch with family, friends, etc.; it is still a reflection of you and your business.  People want to connect to others and create value in their relationships, this includes business as well.  Trust value is a big component of consumers.  According to Edelman Trust Barometer, 63% of people agree with this statement: “A good reputation may get me to try a product—but unless I come to trust the company behind the product I will soon stop buying it, regardless of its reputation.”   And it doesn’t just stop at the company level.  Consumers are more likely to do their research on people within companies due to the unlimited access of information they have at their fingertips.

Social Media Tips

The following are a few tips for how you can avoid damaging your image via social media:

  • When it comes to supporting causes, the more controversial it is, the more conflict-ridden it will be. We’re not saying to never support a controversial cause, but beware that it may impact business, even if it is only on personal social media accounts.
  • Avoid sharing any snaps that are inappropriate and may involve alcohol, nudity, or profanity. It tends to not land well with customers.
  • Try not to post too much. Posting several times a day is annoying and comes off like you have nothing else going on. This goes for your personal AND professional accounts.

As your business thrives, there will be an eye on you within your social media platforms.  It’s important to keep your content light, fun, but still professional and appropriate.

Back Office Betties

Building Your Audience Through Social Media

Learning how to grow your social media presence can be kind of a mystery, especially when running your business social media isn’t your main job… running your business is! Regardless of how intimidating it may appear, it’s important to be working towards continually building your social media audiences. Should it be your main goal in life? Of course not. But it can be a huge factor in growing your business, and it’s free to use it! So why not utilize it?

Quick Tips for Building an Audience

The following are a few sweet and simple ways you can expand your social media presence and start growing your followers:

  • Use hashtags. This is especially helpful for Instagram! And not just two or three, go for at minimum 10, and put them in the comments to make them less obnoxious to your followers.
  • Add links to your profiles. This could be links to anything- your website, a cause you are supporting, an article your brand was featured in, etc. Any link that shares a little more about your brand and your values is what you want to be sharing.
  • Have consistent visual branding. What’s your brand aesthetic? What vibe are you trying to send? Be consistent so your audience understands what you are all about. Plus, consistent visual branding is just attractive to the eye. You audience will also remember you.
  • Run a giveaway! This is a great way to spread the word about your brand. Something as simple as “To enter this giveaway follow us and tag two friends in the comments” is going to get people excited about you and really expand your audience.
  • Reply to comments on your pictures and messages. Get to know your followers, don’t be afraid or hesitant to engage with them! This also sends the message to your followers that you care about them and that you are listening.

Start with Basics

Obviously, there are a ton of ways you can analyze your social media accounts by reviewing data, apps, and analytics to understand what you can be doing better.  But when you are a small business owner, just start with the basics! It doesn’t always have to be a science, sometimes it just involves putting in a bit more effort and engaging your audience a little more.

Don’t be afraid of social media, it is nothing more than another tool to grow your brand and interact with others.

Know Your Position When Playing the Game

It is human nature to always be searching for something better, the proverbial ‘grass is always greener on the other side’. We might have fooled ourselves into believing that a constant search for success is what will eventually get us there, but this mindset is what is limiting us in our businesses.

Basketball pro Bill Walton believed hyper focusing on your weaknesses does nothing but chew up time that could be spent sharpening your strengths. The truth is, there are just some things we aren’t good at, and we never will be. But there is a silver lining; there are things we are great at that other people aren’t. And it is these things we should be focusing on.

Stick with What You Know

So how do we do this? It is as simple as sticking with what you know, and really pushing yourself towards improvement in those areas. This was a lesson I learned the long and hard way, but when I finally realized I don’t have to be good at everything, I was really liberated. You have employees and coworkers for a reason! Each person has a set of unique skills and abilities, and like a puzzle, they can fill the gaps you can’t.

In the game of basketball, one person isn’t responsible for every position on the court. If so, there would be no game, it would be constant failure, especially when competing with teams who operate like a well-oiled machine. So, it’s silly to think different rules apply when it comes to our businesses.

Push yourself outside your comfort zone with your strengths. Be more than just “good” at your strengths… be great!  If you’re point guard, then be the best point guard you can be, and stop trying to master the role of playing the forward. You have what it takes to be successful, so start applying those skills!

Back Office Betties

Pruning Your Business

When you’ve invested so much time and energy into your business, it’s like having a garden full of rose bushes.  For your roses to flourish, you must give them the love and attention they need so they can grow and bloom.  Your business is like pruning a garden…. sometimes you need to prune the dead weight in your business.

Pruning for Success

If you are hesitant about pruning your business, or scared to step on a few toes, remember these things:

  • Pruning will make your business healthier. When a plant has overgrown and has unhealthy branches, it will become stressed. The plant then invests in precious resources to revive these dying branches. This pursuit can end up depriving the healthy limbs from getting the nutrients they need.  Consider not investing in resources to something that’s dying in your business!  Eliminate what isn’t useful before you end up compromising healthy functions within your business.
  • Pruning will make your business more appealing and organized. Nothing is more discouraging to potential consumers than a disorganized and chaotic business. Evaluate things like software that needs to be updated or replaced; or vendors that aren’t serving your business needs.
  • Pruning allows you to modify and shape your vision. Prune back so you can explore new territory, meet new demands, and reach new consumer markets – all aligning with your vision.
  • Prune so you have less of a mess to clean up later. The less time you spend cleaning up messes, the less you will have to manage, which means more time for you to focus on the direction of your business.

It’s never easy having to make the decision to do some pruning, but once you move forward with it, you will be so grateful you did.