Intake is the #1 most important aspect of building a successful practice. Why?
By building a successful intake practice, you are perfecting your brand and increasing your business! This is your opportunity to ask yourself:
- Who are we as a law firm?
- Are we representing ourselves accordingly when potential clients reach out to us?
- Do our intake specialists’ behavior, tone and customer service skills represent our brand?
- From an objective perspective, is our intake staff as compassionate/professional/well-informed as we need them to be?
- Do our intake specialists have what they need to be successful?
- Are we providing them with the right kind of support and training?
- Are we respectful of their expertise and adapting our intake approach accordingly when appropriate?
- Are our intake practices demonstrating excellent conversion?
Running a successful law firm requires that you spend time focusing on every facet of your practice. But you can’t win cases you don’t get. By performing secret shopping, you have a unique opportunity to examine and perfect your firm’s customer service experience.
How can you effectively secret shop your firm? Here are some tips that may come in handy once you have made the decision to move forward:
- Selecting a secret shopper”: Make sure to choose someone your team won’t know. You can either hire professional secret shoppers, or go with someone you know, as long as they can be objective. There are even professional services out there that specialize in “shopping” the legal field.
- Know your objectives: Make a list of what you want to learn through this process, and make sure the secret shopper knows what questions to ask.
- If possible, have multiple shoppers call. One bad call doesn’t mean your process isn’t working.
- Call at various times of the day: This allows you to gauge consistency, track weak performance windows and truly understand how your intake is performing.
- When you have to say no: Along with having one caller ask about a case you KNOW your firm would take, see what happens when a shopper calls with a case you can’t help them with.
- Compare: Consider having your secret shopper call competitors’ law firms as well. You know your potential clients are “shopping around.” Why shouldn’t you?
- Review the results with your team: Share the shopper’s feedback so they can learn what worked and what needs to improve.
You may not always like what you hear from the shoppers, but constructive feedback allows room for growth, both for your intake team and your firm!
So, what do you do with the results? Hopefully, you went into the secret shopper exercise with clear goals. Now’s your chance to leverage your investment!
Once you’ve received feedback (or even better… heard the calls) thoughtfully review what happened. Here are some things you may want to highlight for improvement:
- Evaluate hold times. Was your shopper forced to wait on the line for too long? Do you have exceptionally busy times of the day? Is your phone system up to the task? Do you need additional staff or a more streamlined intake process?
- Make intake easy. Did the caller have to answer too many questions before being offered an appointment? If your intake process is too cumbersome, callers may lose interest in proceeding after the first few minutes. They want to be heard and know if you can help them as quickly as possible. If you can’t help them, they want to find someone who can.
- Improve staff’s ability to provide answers or resources: The reason for this is twofold. Your intake team cannot answer legal questions, but are they provided with pre-approved options and answers? Are they trained to go beyond “no, we can’t help you?” Remember, even if you cannot take the case, you are still building a relationship. Now you have (1) a legitimate reason to capture contact information and (2) an opportunity to build credibility for your brand.
- Refine training: Remember, this secret shopping process is about growth, both for your firm and your intake specialists. Be thoughtful in how you address any shortfalls. Your foundational goal throughout this process is to inspire and improve.
Now you have some real things to work on together. And you don’t have to take on all the work yourself. Bring in other members of your team to help create solutions.
At this point you have heard the calls and processed the feedback. Now what?
- Refer to your original goals: Not only will you see where you stand, but you may see some missed opportunities and room for creative problem solving.
- Give Feedback: Be prepared with constructive feedback for your intake team.
- Think creatively on how to leverage what you’ve learned: Don’t just think about the calls that resulted in cases. Look at the calls that weren’t a good fit. Sure, it may take a little more time in the intake turn-around rate, but you are still winning hearts and minds. In a 40+% referral world, you are building capital with every call. What does your firm’s network look like? Are there other firms or resources that may help the people that you can’t help, and do you know who they are? Are you able to capture an email address to send resources? As you know… contact info is priceless to your practice.
- Addressing issues: Is your priority simply to “catch” the underperformers, or are you also looking for the successful performers and sharing their techniques? Secret shopping your firm is about growth… not guilt! Positions on an intake team aren’t for everyone, but with a little support and extra confidence, turn-over is less likely… saving you money in searching for staff and training costs.
Remember, consumers are more likely to leave a bad review after having a negative experience. The last thing you want is to have callers who are frightened, confused or frustrated diminishing your brand online. A review such as, “they couldn’t take my case, but they pointed me in the right direction” can be worth as much as any “win” in the long run. Network Affiliates. Our Network. Your Move.