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Poor call handling costing law firms a “huge amount” of business

11 November 2013

Poor handling of phone enquiries is costing legal firms a “huge amount of business”, according to a consultant who carried out an extensive test exercise.

London-based Ian Cooper made 254 “mystery calls” to firms nationwide, and discussed enquiry handling strategy with partners and senior management in 92 firms. Despite the competitive pressures in the current economic climate, he believes many firms simply fail to recognise the importance of call handling and how much new business can result from doing it properly.

Among his findings, Mr Cooper reports that:

  • in 39% of calls, there was nobody immediately available to take the call;
  • in over a third, the call handler neither introduced themselves nor took the caller’s name;
  • in 97%, the call handler failed to ask if the caller wanted to go ahead or make an appointment;
  • when firms promised to send something out, 38% failed to do so, and of those who did, in 56% of cases it was of poor marketing quality or “littered with errors”;
  • 70% of firms make no attempt to formally track and monitor incoming new enquiry calls and conversion rates.

Further, over 90% of people handling potential client calls, admit to either not being very good at it or to not liking the task.

Partners and senior fee earners, however, often believe that call handling is a low level activity that is beneath them; or alternatively that despite poor results, they are great at dealing with potential new clients.

Criticising the lack of empathy and attempts to build rapport with callers (little more than 10% passed on these aspects), Mr Cooper comments that there is a false perception that if a caller asks the price, that is the only thing they are interested in. For the majority of callers this is not the case, he says, adding however: “Where only the price is discussed, callers have nothing else to base their decision on!”

Mr Cooper claims that 90% of firms who give staff proper techniques training and ensure it is put into practice, benefit from at least a 10% increase in conversion rates in the first month after the training, and over a three to six month period it is not unusual to see conversion rates double.

"What is the point of spending your limited marketing and business development resources to generate new leads and enquiries if the firm consistently fails to deal effectively with them, fails to convert them and loses potential new clients to competitors?" he asked. Firms simply fail to recognise “how much extra business can be won quickly and easily at limited cost”.

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