Most law firms lose good leads because of untrained staff, lackadaisical phone protocol and an inability to consistently qualify callers over the phone.
Your staff needs to be able to properly qualify leads and engage with callers in a meaningful way. They need to learn to control the direction of inquiry calls and they need skills to make sure they get the complete story before jumping to a conclusion about the quality of a lead.
After several months of taking intake phone calls, your staff can, understandably, become jaded and even insensitive to callers. This is a common and natural– but it can cost you tens of thousands of dollars in unrealized revenue!
When you and your intake team (receptionists, intake specialists, call center) are on the phone all day long taking call after call discussing plight, strife and suffering – over a long period of time you can develop a form of “vicarious traumatization”(VT). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vicarious_traumatization VT is the negative feelings a trauma worker or helper experiences that result from empathic engagement with traumatized clients and their reports of traumatic experiences. Essentially, VT is what causes you to become jaded. And, whether you realize it or not, it will affect your ability to engage consistently with prospects.
Here are just some of the feelings you or your team may have about prospects, which cause friction and can stonewall your client engagement.
- they’re not deserving
- they’re lying, faking
- they’re pitiful
- they’re crazy
- they’re drunk
- they’re “mental cases”
These are harsh words, but we hear this in our private coaching sessions.
It is your job as the business owner to support your staff and to acknowledge these feelings and the potential problems they cause.
Change Your Mindset to Avoid Becoming Jaded
One of the most effective ways to avoid becoming jaded — and help those who experience VT get back on track — is to change your mindset and “reframe” the role of attorneys and intake specialists. When speaking with prospects, you’re not in the legal business you’re really in the relationship and healing business. Here are a few tips for doing so:
- Provide scripts and a linked sequential process for your intake team to follow while they’re on the phone. Think of it like a map – guiding you down the path. Imagine driving down a road you’ve never been on without a map, your confidence level is low, you’re distracted and anxiety goes up. With a map your confidence level goes up. Your mind is free to stay focused on the prospect. Mind you, the script and process needs to be client-centric and your team has to have an understanding of the principles/ the “why to” behind what they’re saying. A script and process alone will not make you empathetic, but it will reduce fatigue, increase consistency and increase your ability to focus on needs and wants.
- Share the success stories of your ideal clients with your intake team. Use internal “third party” testimonial to re-invigorate and validate the work that’s being done on the front line. Find as many tangible results, outcomes and success stories to “market internally”. Everyone needs to be reminded how much of a hero your firm can be to someone, their business and their family and the significant impact a case may have. You have an obligation to give every one of your prospects the opportunity to experience the same kind of results.
- Inspect what you expect. Consistently monitor phone calls and provide feedback to your team about how phone calls are being handled. If you commit to doing this at least once a month for six months it will become a habit and it will demonstrate that accountability is a part of how you operate. This isn’t a punitive initiative. Instead it is a self-evaluation process that shows your team you’re committed to excellence on the phone and will keep everyone “on their toes.”
Embrace this mindset and make it part of your culture, it will differentiate what you do from ALL of the other law firms in your niche.
Support your team, be of service to your team, just as you would with a client and give them all the coaching you possibly can so that they can do the same for your prospects and clients one relationship, one phone call at a time.