Whether you’re paying a service, a virtual assistant, or an in-house assistant to answer your phones you’ve got to have them well trained on how to properly do so. If you don’t, you’re letting prospects slip through the cracks and leaving tons of money on the table.
In this article I’ll be going over the four best ways to answer your calls for scheduling appointments:
- 1st Best: Your phones are live answered by someone with a smile and a script who can handle easy questions and schedule in-person appointments with you.
- 2nd Best: If that’s not possible, you’ll want whoever is answering your phones to transfer the call to the person who will be helping your clients or making the appointment with you (you, another attorney at your firm, or an offsite virtual intake specialist or client services director, etc.).
- 3rd Best: If you have a pure receptionist who just answers the phone and isn’t available to answer questions or schedule appointments, make sure the person answering your phone can schedule a call back from the right person. No one likes to play phone tag, avoid it at all costs.
- 4th Best: And as a last option, if nothing else is possible, you’ll want the call to be forwarded directly to your voicemail.
Notice, none of these options involves you answering your phone, ever. You are far too busy (or you should be focusing on getting that busy) to answer your phone. And, think about it – does a client really want to hire the lawyer who is so not busy that he or she can answer every call that comes in? No. People like to hire busy people, so act busy.
Ideally, you’d want the person answering your calls to be handling client questions and booking appointments right then and there. To do this, they need to be trained to properly handle existing clients and pre-screen prospects to ensure you’re only meeting with people who are ready and able to work with you, and if so, prepare the prospect for your meeting.
In some cases – for instance, using a live answering service – you may not be able to train the reps who answer the phone on your behalf. In that case, you’ll want the person answering the call to be able to transfer the call directly to the person who will be handling clients and making appointments – either you, your client services director or your client intake specialist.
If you’re unable to get the person who can schedule the meeting on the phone, you’ll need to schedule a time for a call back. It’s easy to lose good prospects in the phone tag game. Once they get off the phone, it’s hard to get them back on. This isn’t the best option, but by setting aside an exact time for the call to be returned you make it a bit easier to get back in touch with your clients/prospects.
And if all else fails…
If you are unable to train someone, unable to get the person on the phone who can make the meeting, and unable to schedule a call back time, you’ll need to have the call transferred to your voicemail.
Use this only as a last resort.
If you’re going to use this option, you’ll need to be 100% clear in your voicemail message about who will be making the call back (you or your client intake specialist) and when they can expect the call to be returned (within 24 hrs, by noon the next day, etc.).
Having a strong, working system in place for managing calls and scheduling appointments is an absolute, must-have process for every successful law firm.
Want to learn more about how to engage clients you love? Start here: