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Many solo and small law firms view virtual receptionist services as administrative tools to help their attorneys and staff be more productive (and billable) by not having to answer their phones each time they ring.
But virtual receptionists can be much more than just outsourced phone answerers. They can also be a law firm’s valuable secret weapon for providing exceptional client service.
Whenever a caller—who could very well be a prospective or current client—dials the main phone number of a law firm working with a virtual receptionist service, that phone call is automatically routed to an off-site receptionist who answers the call with a greeting that is personalized for that law firm. And that’s when the magic begins. Based on the call-handling instructions provided by the law firm, the service’s receptionists will direct calls accordingly.
For example, if an attorney only takes calls during the business day from judges, opposing counsel or referring attorneys, the receptionist can call the attorney when one of these people is on the line. However, if the call is from a prospective or current client, the receptionist will handle those calls accordingly based on the firm’s call-handling instructions. That could mean that those calls are routed to a paralegal or another attorney or handled directly by the virtual receptionist.
The beauty of many virtual receptionist services is that they can do more than just answer incoming phone calls.
Many law firms use their virtual receptionists to handle intake for prospective clients. The receptionists can perform a limited, basic intake where they obtain key information like names, preliminary information about their cases, how the prospective clients found the firm, contact information and the like. Once this information is collected, the attorney or staff member who later contacts the prospective client has all the information necessary to make that follow-up call productive and to close the deal.
Other law firms have their virtual receptionists make outbound calls to prospective and current clients. For example, receptionists can follow up with prospective clients who began but did not finish filling out a “Contact Us” web form. Or the receptionists can remind clients of upcoming meetings with attorneys or law firm staff. They can even provide periodic updates to clients regarding the status of their cases.
There are so many ways a virtual receptionist service can “wow” a law firm’s prospective and current clients that they practically leap off the page.
Take prospective clients, for example: 85 percent of potential customers don’t call back after placing an unanswered call. With virtual receptionists, prospective clients will always get a live voice on the other end of the phone eager to help them. And if a law firm has its virtual receptionist handle basic intake, imagine the impression made on a prospective client when an attorney or staff member from that firm calls that prospective client back armed with the information he or she provided during that intake. From the very start, prospective clients are going to feel like they are getting great client service fromthat law firm.
When a prospective client becomes an actual client of a law firm, that firm’s virtual receptionist service will always be there to provide a live voice and to relay questions to the firm’s attorneys or staff members. On its own, that responsiveness will separate a law firm from most of its peers when it comes to providing client service. But the proactive outbound calls that virtual receptionists can make regarding reminders and status updates is a service so rarely provided to clients—but one surely to be viewed by them as an example of great client service—that it is likely to be what clients talk about when referringothers to an attorney.
By putting a modern twist on call forwarding, virtual receptionists enable solo and small law firms to deliver a level of client service that is unrivaled even by law firms that are exponentially larger in size.
This enhanced client service also bolsters a law firm’s marketing efforts.
When prospective clients feel like they are getting great client service, they typically become clients.
When clients feel like they are getting great client service, they typically become happy clients.
Happy clients tend to refer their friends and families to their attorneys, leave positive reviews and are willing to give favorable testimonials.
And, of course, referrals, positive reviews and testimonials are essential marketing tools for law firms.
So, while a virtual receptionist service can be a secret client service weapon for solo and small law firms, the funny thing is that if a law firm uses a virtual receptionist service to its fullest potential, the service can be an equally powerful marketing weapon for that firm too.