Mistakes made by your intake team can be damaging. Systemic issues that exist within an intake department can not only result in missed opportunities to sign clients, but they can also, if not addressed, negatively affect your firm’s reputation. The goal of plaintiff law firms is to turn every client and potential client into a raving fan of your firm, regardless of the outcome of the claim. How do you do that? You create a client experience that serves to make people feel heard, informed, and important. This is accomplished by mitigating the common team mistakes through training and ongoing education and by ingraining your firm’s mission, vision, and values into your team.
Over the past decade, Vista has had the honor of getting to work with many amazing law firms. This wide lens perspective has allowed us to identify and counter mistakes firms (both big and small) make in their intake department. Here are the top five worst mistakes we see intake departments make and how you can avoid them:
#1. They Don’t Treat Every New Call/Lead with the Utmost Urgency.
The importance of this cannot be overstated. Potential clients are often juggling multiple concerns, seeking the quickest and most reassuring legal support. If your firm doesn’t respond promptly, they may easily turn to your competitors.
The team should not only respond rapidly but also exude warmth and professionalism in every interaction. When every call or inquiry is treated with a sense of urgency, it communicates respect for the caller’s situation, time, and needs. It assures them that they are valued and that their case is a priority. Every call should be treated as if it’s the most important task of the day because, to the person on the other end of the line, it truly is.
#2. They Don’t Make Every Effort to Sign the Potential Client Up on the First Call.
This might be the first time the potential client has been injured and needs representation. They may be afraid of hiring an attorney right away. If it’s a case you want, but they need more time to think about it, let them speak with another team member.
Answer their questions, ensure they feel heard, and explain the process so that it feels less daunting and unfamiliar. It could simply be that they need to hear another voice reassuring them that they are taking the right next step. And it doesn’t have to be an attorney. Consider escalating the call to a peer or Intake Manager. Too, train your team to have rebuttals at the ready for common objections. Sometimes being armed with the right words is all it takes for your team, and the potential client, to feel confident.
#3. They Miss Out on Using Quality Control as a Coaching/Training Tool.
A great way to continue to grow and develop your team is by listening to call recordings and providing feedback. Sometimes, team members don’t know what they don’t know. They may not even realize there’s a better way to handle a common situation or question.
Listening to call recordings together as a team can help identify strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for improvement. Use these sessions to provide feedback and training on tone, language, and the overall client experience. Allowing your intake team members to listen to their own calls with a discerning eye can be incredibly impactful. Even long-tenured team members can begin to sound mechanical over time. This is a great way to get ahead of that and have confidence that your firm is changing the way people see lawyers one call at a time.
Quality control isn’t just about identifying mistakes or shortcomings; it’s also a space to acknowledge and celebrate success. When your intake team members execute a call flawlessly, use that call recording in your training sessions to exemplify best practices. This not only boosts their morale but also sets a clear benchmark for others to strive towards.
These feedback sessions should be a safe, non-judgmental space where team members feel comfortable discussing their challenges and seeking advice. It’s important to foster an environment of continuous learning, where every interaction is seen as an opportunity to improve and refine skills. Regular quality control checks and feedback sessions ensure that your firm’s mission, vision, and values are consistently reflected in every interaction your intake team has with potential clients. This consistency in client interaction helps to build trust and credibility, which are crucial in turning potential clients into lifelong advocates of your firm.
#4. They Fail to Brand-Build on Every Call.
Professionalism and kindness should be the consistent tone throughout every call, regardless of the outcome. You may not be able to help every new caller, but every caller should feel heard and supported.
The team should always communicate your firm’s brand values and mission during every interaction, even if you are unable to assist with their specific concern. Provide information about the areas of law your firm specializes in, and offer advice or referrals to other resources if appropriate. In some cases, callers may not have a case that fits your firm’s expertise, but they could in the future, or they may know someone who does. By presenting your firm as a helpful and knowledgeable resource, you can leave a lasting positive impression.
Every phone call is an opportunity for branding, even if it doesn’t result in immediate business. Include them in marketing efforts like newsletters and birthday greetings. They’ll remember your name, and, if the need ever arises, you’ll be the first firm they reach out to.
#5. They Don’t Know Their Numbers!
What is your conversion rate? Wanted rate? Attrition rate? The best firms measure and analyze their numbers…then improve upon their personal best. Law firms produce huge amounts of data on a daily basis.
It’s essential to track and analyze this data to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your intake process. By knowing your numbers, you can identify areas for improvement, measure success, and make data-driven decisions.
Tracking your conversion rate (the percentage of leads that turn into clients) is crucial in understanding the effectiveness of your intake process. A low conversion rate may indicate issues with your team’s response time, communication skills, or follow-up procedures. It can also signal that there are gaps in the services you offer or in the way you market your firm to potential clients.
Similarly, tracking the wanted rate (the percentage of cases that meet your desired criteria) and attrition rate (the percentage of potential clients who do not sign up with your firm) can provide valuable insights into the quality of your leads and the effectiveness of your intake process. By monitoring these numbers, you can make strategic changes to improve your firm’s overall success.
The best, most successful firms are using that data to drive business decisions, develop and hone standard operating procedures, and motivate team members to raise the bar. Your intake team should be aware of their key performance indicators (KPIs), and they should aim to meet their goals every month.
The good news?
Fixing these huge mistakes and improving your processes doesn’t have to be something earth-shattering. A small tweak can turn a stumbling block into a stepping stone. Take the time to work with your team to ensure they have the tools, training, and expectations to deliver top-quality client service day in and day out.
Your intake team can help your firm build on its stellar reputation. They should truly see themselves as brand ambassadors who are on the front lines. If they embrace this role, your firm will land the leads they want and surpass once-distant milestones.
Your intake team is the first point of contact that potential clients have with your firm and first impressions matter. An efficient, professional, and empathetic intake team can differentiate your firm from the competition, enhancing your reputation and improving client satisfaction. So, invest time in training your team, listen to their concerns, and help them understand their role in creating a positive client experience. Your effort will not only drive the success of your intake process but also contribute significantly to the overall growth of your firm.