How To Choose The Best Answering Service for Lawyers
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There is no denying that most of the lawyers lead a very hectic professional life. Between mediation, litigation, advising various clients, conducting cases and research, negotiating agreements, staying updated with new regulatory changes and laws and writing briefs, any given working day for a lawyer I equivalent to at least a full week’s worth of work for a professional in any other line of work.
This is precisely why if you are a lawyer and need to maximize the value of your time, it serves your best interests to make use of answering service for lawyers.
At this point, you might be wondering- what is an answering service?
Answering Service for Lawyers
An answering service enables a lawyer to outsource the often distracting and time-consuming work of screening phone calls, answering queries, conducting client intake and engaging in continuing correspondence with the various stakeholders/parties that are involved in a legal issue.
A common and popular example of an answering service for lawyers is virtual receptionists. This particular service makes use of on-demand representatives who can respond to prospects and clients through phone and online chat (more on this later). Apart from virtual receptionists, other fashionable answering services for lawyers include automated messaging systems and live chatbots.
Before we talk in detail about the best answering services for lawyers, it is important to know if you are a lawyer, what signs indicate that you require an answering service.
Do You Require an Answering Service?
Undoubtedly, it is a pivotal decision for lawyers to outsource their customer service. If you are a lawyer, you need to ask yourself the following questions to determine whether you require the support of an answering service for lawyers. Next, compare the expenses of hiring a full-time receptionist with the cost of an answering service for lawyers. You need assistance in answering the phones, but which option do you think would be the more cost-effective one?
Am I missing important phone calls?
An obvious reason to forward your phone lines to an answering service for lawyers is if you are missing important calls. If you are occupied with other tasks and not able to reach the phone, a live inbound/outbound receptionist can ensure that your callers are properly managed, and all the messages are passed on to you accurately and quickly.
Do I receive may calls after work hours?
Most lawyers and law practices do not conduct their business round the clock. However, clients may still want to reach out and call in to set an appointment or ask queries after you close down for the day. Answering services for lawyers can effectively handle after-hours phone calls and boost your practice’s customer/client engagement.
Are my clients not showing up to appointments or canceling?
Law practices must often cope with clients, not showing up, and appointment cancellations. Law practice management software usually comprises features of appointment reminders, but answering services for lawyers provide another great way to encourage your clients/customers to show up when their appointment is due. Many answering services can even seamlessly integrate with your law practice management software and operate within the platform directly.
Do I need to enhance client outreach?
Some answering services for lawyers provide outbound calling as well apart from inbound, following up on current leads’ lists and, in some instances, finding new clients by conducting cold calling. Outbound call support through an answering service for lawyers can help tremendously if your law practice is struggling when it comes to client outreach and identifying new business.
Does my call volume shoot up unexpectedly?
Some of your business clients may be facing difficulty connecting to your front office if you ever experience unanticipated spikes in your call volume. By engaging an answering service for lawyers to manage overflow calls, you can ensure that all your callers are duly answered, even at the busiest of times.
Read on to learn about some of the best answering services for lawyers.
Automated Messaging System
An Automated Messaging System is basically a system that automatically delivers a text message or sometimes a recorded voice message to several phones.
This particular type of messaging system removes the need to squander any time, manually texting or calling several multiple phone numbers one at a time.
By using a text and voice broadcasting service, you can easily accomplish this without having to add any extra phone lines or buy any equipment.
Prime benefit of Automated Messaging System: Client Retention and Text Messaging
For a lawyer, acquiring a new client is far costlier than retaining a current one. Owing to this, client retention is imperative to boost your profit margins and cut down your costs. In this regard, automated messaging systems, which are both convenient and professional answering services, can be of a lot of help.
Courtesy to such automated messaging systems, you can easily send mass SMS updates and branded text such as email newsletter information regarding your law practice, without any worry. Texts help you go around redundant email addresses and reach out to more of your core client base that has shown interest in getting messages from you on their smartphones.
Automated messaging systems also make it possible to send particular text messages to individual clients, such as appointment reminders. By providing regular reminders, you can always keep the clients in the loop.
Furthermore, automated messaging systems are more accurate and faster answering service compared to phone calls. Hence, with messaging, you can quickly enhance the interactions with your clients and deliver an overall better experience for them.
These are some of the standout features of automated messaging.
Scheduled Text Messages
Automated messaging allows you to schedule your messages ahead of time. You can do this to send sales to follow-ups, appointment reminders, and ratings or review requests. Moreover, you can schedule individual messages to send to one particular recipient through your inbox.
This feature allows you to get back to your clients with lightning-quick speed. Triggers enable you to respond automatically to:
- Common client queries
- Service requests (such as consultation for legal information or to prepare documents such as court forms)
How triggers work is that when certain keywords are texted in, an automated response (pre-set) is generated. For instance, you may set a “contact” trigger that will reply automatically with your law practice’s contact details.
Other features of automated messaging for lawyers include:
- Sending appointment reminders and confirmations
- Sending payment reminders
- Scheduling seasonal service calls
- Soliciting client feedback
- Informing clients of any service changes
- Welcoming new clients with personalized messages
- Building brand awareness of law practice
Any thriving lawyer is well aware of the fact that proper communication is one of the primary ingredients of client contentment. Clients want to know that they can reach out to you at your workplace at any time. Even if you usually return voicemail messages punctually, your clients will begin to wonder about your commitment to them if they keep on reaching your voicemail frequently.
However, the time that you spend answering phones keeps you (and any other staff members that you have) from other pressing tasks that you cannot delay. By using a virtual receptionist as an answering service, you can stay connected with all your clients without the need to compromise on your services’ quality.
Before we proceed any further, it is important to know what a virtual receptionist (inbound/outbound) is. To put it simply, virtual receptionists are customer service experts. If you are a lawyer, a virtual receptionist is an ideal solution for you if you want someone to manage your phone calls and other tasks. Some of these tasks include
Collecting and Processing Payments for Consultations
You charge a fee when a new client calls in and reserves a consultation with you. The virtual receptionist can answer the phone, book the client’s appointment with you, gather the new client’s credit card detail, and finally process the payment right then and there. Just imagine how convenient that is for you!
Scheduling Appointments, Consultations, and Call-backs
Whether it is a phone consultation, an in-person meeting, or a call-back to a client, virtual receptionists can efficiently schedule the appointments directly on your work calendar. Hence, there are not many follow-up tasks for you as the receptionists handle all the calls on your behalf.
You can also ask your virtual receptionist to make outbound calls to clients with upcoming appointments 1-2 days in advance. This also serves as a good opportunity to inform your existing and potential clients of any kind of preparation needed for them before your meeting or call.
Benefits of Virtual Receptionist as an Answering Service for Lawyers
The following are some of the advantages of using virtual receptionists as an answering service for lawyers.
Enhanced Client Satisfaction
Try to envisage this scenario: You are a lawyer, and a client calls your law firm hoping to converse with you. However, you are in court or busy with another client, and the client who was calling you reaches your voicemail.
When you engage the services of a virtual receptionist as an answering service, the receptionist makes sure that the client converses with a live, real person when his/her call is answered. He/she will feel more content, knowing that the receptionist is handling their request. An effective virtual receptionist can relay messages and forward calls to the right individual, which enhances client satisfaction.
Moreover, most of the individuals will not call your law firm back if no one answers their call the first time around. This translates into missed opportunities in terms of new business and clients for you (the lawyer) and your law firm.
Boost in Efficiency
Apart from handling your phone calls, a virtual receptionist can also efficiently perform other tasks such as sending emails on your behalf and managing your court calendar. This gives you more time to focus on important tasks and interact with your clients without hiring a full-time worker in your office.
Furthermore, a virtual receptionist can also ensure that the right calls get forwarded to the correct individuals. This is particularly helpful if your law firm has several practicing lawyers.
Creates a Favorable First Impression
Every competent lawyer knows that first impressions matter a lot when dealing with new people. A new client can be anyone calling your law firm for very the first time for legal help with real estate purchases, family disputes, taxes, or whatever area of the law that you specialize in. A virtual receptionist answering your phone on your behalf makes your law firm sound organized and professional. It gives existing and potential clients a favorable impression of your law firm’s daily operations.
Virtual Assistants Keep Your Client Calm
Several incoming callers tend to become frustrated if a live person does not answer their call, if the call does not reach the right individual or if the call goes straight to voicemail instead. Transferring the callers between various lawyers in the law firm squanders invaluable resources and time and makes the client feel increasingly stressed out. Virtual receptionists make sure that all calls from the clients are correctly routed to the relevant individual the first time.
Chatbots for Attorneys
A chatbot is another great answering service that lawyers can make use of to facilitate themselves and streamline their work. To put it in layman terms, a lawyer chatbot is a software application that performs automated tasks that lawyers usually carry out.
Lawyers can use these chatbots to speed up their work and provide a more enhanced experience to the clients by enabling them to serve themselves online.
The major features of chatbots for layers include (but are not limited to):
Intake of Clients
This is a very popular feature in chatbots. They can offer a lot of assistance to the whole process of client intake. Chatbots can swiftly elicit essential information via “discussion trees,” which utilize a multiple-choice format. That information can help in the identification of the correct lawyer within the law firm to handle the client’s particular case. All of the data and the information collected via the chatbot can then be passed on to the appropriate lawyer prior to the preliminary consultation.
Scheduling of Appointments
The chatbot can efficiently schedule the initial consultations (those mentioned above). In this way, you can save yourself from such menial tasks, and the involvement of a receptionist is eliminated as well. This is undoubtedly a fantastic use of chatbots.
How Do Chatbots make a Lawyer’s Life Easier?
Employing the use of a chatbot as an answering service has benefits galore for a lawyer. Some of these benefits include:
Chatbots are 24/7 Assistants
Unlike the human workforce in your law firm, your chatbot does not require a vacation or a break. The chatbot can easily pick up the slack when you are swamped down with cases or involved somewhere else. This piece of software works round the clock to provide all customers with legal assistance whenever they require it (Talk of convenience!).
You can train a chatbot like you would instruct someone who is going to manage the live chats.
- Your chatbot is capable of recommending the right for the case
- You can provide scripted responses to a broad range of queries
- Answers to queries pertaining to particular law practice areas
With the passage of time, you can learn from the answers that your clients provide when using the chatbot. Chatbots also learn through machine learning algorithms and Artificial Intelligence and can add new queries your clients might have or are frequently asking.
Better Data Collection
Chatbots that lawyers can use as an answering service come equipped with various tools that can capture data, provide important insights, and fine-tune its overall performance based on the final results you achieve. After running your personalized chatbot every week, you or your law firm can go through the record of the conversation to trace and assess the clients’ engagement process.
This helps the lawyer to identify chatbot users’ behavior and common issues the clients are having or asking about particular services. If you are a lawyer, all this valuable information can prove to be immensely important to you and offer you and your law firm a new perspective about your business and your clients. In this manner, you can improve your commercial practice.
Chatbots are also capable of collecting a client’s phone number and email address and other valuable data you might need to process a certain query once it lands your hands. Moreover, chatbots can also screen all the leads efficiently before their passing their details over to you.
Improvement in Lead Generation
If calibrated properly, a chatbot can drive leads for lawyers. Some individuals may not want to go through the rigmarole of filling out the details in a contact form or calling a law firm and prefer to adopt a conversational approach through texting.
Bearing that in mind, if the chatbot pops up, these people may very well begin typing a query they have and then end up providing their contact information, along with describing the legal issue they are facing.
If your chatbot is not able to answer the query (owing to the question’s complexity) or the client asks to reach out to the lawyer directly, the chatbot can immediately redirect the person/client to the correct lawyer.
Chatbots are Swift to Respond
Lawyer Chatbots can comprehend natural language queries and are swift to respond with supportive and serviceable legal information in simple and easy to understand English keeping technical jargon to a bare minimum. An individual can converse with the chatbot to acquire whatever information she or he requires. Furthermore, chatbots can also act in the capacity of a legal consultant and provide guidelines, recommendations, and broad-ranging counsel.
This software application is also extremely advantageous for potential clients who are conducting preliminary research. A chatbot’s primary advantages are accessibility and easiness and what this means is that anyone can find the relevant legal information that they seek.
Core Features in All Answering Services for Lawyers
Most Answering services for lawyers vary in what they provide. However, many of these comprise the following prime features:
- Message taking: This answering service feature comprises the collection of information requested by the law firm. The receptionist will then pass on the messages to the relevant departments at the law firm.
- Live Answering: Typically available round the clock; a live inbound receptionist will dutifully answer incoming calls and help callers with common questions and issues if you provide a comprehensive list of all the answers.
- Overflow call answering: If your law practice expects a call volume spike, you can place a live receptionist on overflow, which gives the callers somewhere to reach out to even during the instances when the main phone lines are not free.
- Answering after-hours: When your law firm is closed down for the day, an answering service for lawyers can offer a live receptionist so that the incoming callers are still able to reach out to a representative and give their message.
- Call recording: Answering services for lawyers can record calls and document them for later review.
- Setting Appointments: The receptionists for your answering service can make use of your law practice’s calendar for appointment setting for the callers. Most of these receptionists also provide reminders for the appointments. This service can significantly slash down the rate of client cancellations.
When you or your law firm starts to use answering services, it saves you from the hassle of managing repetitive everyday tasks that consume a lot of time. This, in turn, allows you to focus and concentrate more on important tasks that have greater value for your law firm.
Finally, utilizing the aforementioned answering services (automated messaging system, virtual receptionist, and chatbots) gives lawyers tremendous advantage over their competition (who are also working in the legal industry). It assists them in bringing in new cases and new clients