I heard a presentation by a marketing expert who was focusing on the business opportunities companies may be losing without even being aware of it. She compared the majority of businesses to a leaky bucket which are unwittingly losing potential new clients on a daily basis. One of the most common ‘leaks’ we see at Moneypenny is the way in which new enquiries are handled. It might sound simple, but there is a great deal of skill and knowledge that goes into managing calls and converting an enquiry over the phone.
In any role it pays to have the very best staff representing your firm, and this is no different when it comes to the people answering your incoming calls too. Think of the phone as an extension of your front desk and reception area where you strive to make them feel welcome, valued and provide an amazing experience. The same ethos needs to apply to telephone enquiries. The first point of contact a prospective client will have with your firm, the impression you create is vital. This can influence their decision in choosing whether or not to do business with you. Invest in brilliant, customer-focussed people who excel at this.
It's human nature to want to be treated as an individual, to feel heard and feel like we matter. For businesses like law firms, where callers are getting in touch during a sensitive time, this is even more important. On the phone, this means treating each caller as a person. Handle each client or prospective client with care and take time to listen, really listen, to what they are saying. It's amazing how far lending an understanding ear goes and how showing genuine concern can help persuade them that you are the right firm for them. The same applies to how you collect the relevant details you may need. Be it basic information or conversely a significant amount of facts, the caller shouldn't ever feel like they are rushed or that you're simply filling out a form. Make them feel like you can help and you provide a solution for them.
The words we say, and how we say them, can be hugely powerful. This is worth considering when thinking about how you want your team to talk to clients on the phone. In Professor Ian Cooper's report: Legal firms: Converting telephone enquiries into business, for example, he talks about the large number of firms 'iffing' business away by using language such as 'we will if we work with you', rather than 'we will when we work with you'. By choosing the latter, he suggests that law firms can instil a confidence into their caller and help convince them that they should choose to do business with you.
Cast your mind back to the last time you were ‘wowed’ by a company on the phone. I’ll be willing to bet it was because they exceeded your expectations in some way. Perhaps it was their friendly attitude? Their attention to detail? Or their desire to help? These are just some of the things that are so often missing. Marketing and customer service expert, Geoff Ramm, summed this up perfectly when he visited our office to talk to us about ‘celebrity service’. An expert in wowing customers, Geoff asked us to consider what we would do, what we would say and how we would react if an A-list celebrity called us in comparison to a typical client. This, he says, is the gap in your service that you didn’t know existed; and more so, if you can fill this gap, you'll be head and shoulders above your competitors.
One of the most effective, and simplest ways, to gauge how your calls are being handled is to put yourself in the position of the caller. Try calling your office at different times of the day - especially at peak periods like lunchtime as well as out of hours. Take note of how you are dealt and how you felt throughout the conversation. Consider aspects like how long it took for your call to be answered, how friendly and professional the greeting was, how efficient the person handling the call was, whether you felt assured that they were listening to you and if, when you hung up, you felt confident that the firm was one which you would choose to become a client of. Be clear on why you as a firm are different and what makes you stand out.
Photo: A few of the Moneypenny team. © Moneypenny