The Lost Art of Client Service—Answering the Phone
With so many different ways to attract potential clients — websites, billboards, TV ads, face-to-face networking — it's easy to lose sight of old-fashioned client service. Yet the human touch remains critical when it comes to converting potential clients into actual clients.
While many would-be clients may prefer to make their first point of contact through email, most people want to talk to a person. And when they do, you want that first experience to be professional, pleasant and as comfortable as possible.
The receptionist often makes the first impression of your firm and may be a big factor in determining whether you obtain a new client. Your receptionist will need to answer calls from vendors or telemarketers as well as clients. It's better to let in a few unwanted calls than inadvertently annoy potential clients by screening out their calls or answering them rudely or brusquely. Every call must be taken seriously.
A way to do that includes training the receptionist to follow a basic protocol:
- Always answer the phone with an appropriate greeting and be sure to ask, "How may I help you?"
- Answer the phone as quickly as possible. The longer the phone rings, the more impatient the caller will become. For clients and potential clients, their matter is important to them. You want them to know it's important to your firm, too.
- Phone calls should never be rushed, and callers should never feel that they are a burden to the person answering the phone. (This includes anyone who needs to step in to answer calls while the receptionist is on break. If you need to pay a little more for an answering service, the cost is well worth it.)
- Be sure to carefully pronounce the caller's name, both to the caller and to the person receiving the call.
- Ask what each call is regarding, but do not ask for more information than necessary to properly route the call.
- When it is absolutely necessary to put a caller on hold, always ask "May I put you on hold for a moment?" When picking the line back up, be sure to say, "Thank you for holding. How may I help you?" or "I'm sorry to keep you holding. How may I help you?"
- "Uh-huh" is never an appropriate response to any question. "You're welcome," "Have a nice day" or other response should be cheerfully articulated.
- Learn how to juggle multiple lines and keep track of callers. This may be as simple as keeping a message pad on the desk to jot down names, details and which line each person is on.
- Deliver messages to attorneys in their preferred manner, whether it's voicemail or a written message.
Also consider the physical location of the person answering the phone. Having the receptionist screen calls in the lobby isn't always optimal. Clients waiting to meet someone may hear every call the firm receives, even ones that should be private or where clients are unhappy.
To learn more about how to improve customer service at your firm, click to contact a LexisNexis Law Firm Marketing Specialist or call 866-799-3717.
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