The benefits of using a virtual receptionist for legal firms large and small should not be underestimated. With overflow call handling you can be sure to never miss a call again
Whata��s the cost of a missed call to your business? A recent survey carried out by BT Business showed that the average lost revenue from an unanswered telephone call to a small enterprise (defined as having between 1 and 49 employees) was A?1,200. When it comes to small to medium-sized UK law firms, that cost may well be even higher, bearing in mind the amount of money involved in a typical transaction.
In general, small to medium-sized enterprises in the UK are losing some A?90million every year through missed calls. A missed call equals a missed opportunity, and the majority of callers who get no reply on their first attempt will not bother to try again. Instead they will take their business to a rival firm, whose receptionist was able to pick up the phone.
Virtual reception services are growing rapidly in popularity in the UK, as business owners seek out cost-effective solutions to call handling. In a legal environment such services could be immensely beneficial, ensuring that no call goes unanswered, thus no opportunity is missed, ever again.
Read on to discover the benefits a virtual receptionist can bring to your practice a�� both large and small.
A virtual receptionist will work around your schedule
One thing you are guaranteed of as a lawyer is that you will never get bored and bogged down in routine. Whatever your field of expertise, as a lawyer no two days, let alone weeks, will ever be the same.
In a typical weekly schedule, you may be in the office handling paperwork for part of the week, spend some of it in court, and the rest of the time meeting clients a�� either in the office or visiting them at their location. Then therea��s travel time a�� whether driving or taking the train, there will be many occasions when answering your telephone will be impossible.
Even if a potential client does leave a voicemail, by the time you are able to get back to them (for example, after a long day in court) they may have taken their business elsewhere.
One solution, of course, is to hire a receptionist, but in terms of sole traders and businesses with only a handful of employees, the costs in terms of recruitment, salary, pension contributions, training, supervision, sickness cover and physical desk space, may seem to outweigh the benefits.
Even if you did hire a receptionist, he or she is only one person and can only physically answer one telephone call at a time. Like everyone, they also need their lunch breaks and holidays; an unhappy employee who feels they cana��t take the breaks they are legally entitled to will struggle to provide the best service and would soon end up understandably stressed.
Thata��s where a virtual reception service comes into play. By using a reputable, UK-based virtual receptionist service such as Answer UK, you can eliminate set-up costs and the ongoing expense of having a full- or part-time employee entirely, whilst knowing that every call will be answered, politely and professionally, every time.
Answer UKa��s virtual receptionist service is proud of its clear pricing structure a�� you will be charged by the volume of calls received, with a current special offer (correct as of June 2016) of 89p per message. For that price, you will receive the services of a dedicated account manager and a professional team of virtual receptionists who will answer every call exactly as directed.
Among the services a virtual receptionist can provide are:
- Information on business opening hours
- Location information prior to clients visiting the business a�� car parking facilities, public transport links, access for visitors who use wheelchairs or have restricted mobility
- Further information about services provided, particularly if cost is a factor
- Provide, confirm, or expand upon information about the business as part of the potential clienta��s decision-making process
In 2016, do people still call businesses as a primary mode of contact?
It can be easy to think, in 2016, that telephone calls could soon become a thing of the past, and that clients are more likely to visit a website to garner any information they may need before making a decision about a business.
However, a recent study conducted by Google found that the telephone call is still a hugely important factor for the majority of people when choosing a business or service across all sectors a�� from restaurants to dentists, entertainers to lawyers. There are a number of reasons for this, including:
1) To get a fast, accurate answer and/or easily accomplish a goal (59%)
Many potential clients will not have the time to read about the full range of services your practice provides in great detail in order to furnish themselves with the information they need to make a decision. Often, it is easier to get all the information required during a five-minute phone call, rather than spending half an hour searching through multiple pages of a website to gather everything they need to know themselves.
2) To speak to a real person (57%)
Automated messages are the bane of many peoplea��s lives. Most of us will have tried to contact, for example, our energy supplier, only to have become frustrated at getting lost in an automated answering system. Multiple menu options can be confusing and it is often necessary to call more than once to get answers to more than one question.
Nobody likes speaking to a robot, and this is where virtual reception services can really help. All calls received by the team at Answer UK will be answered immediately, by a real person who has access to commonly-requested information, as well as the ability to forward calls or messages as necessary, either as an SMS or an email, depending on client preference.
When their call is answered promptly and professionally by someone who is ready to help, an instant positive impression of your practice will be built in their mind.
3) To answer questions that arena��t covered by the website (54%)/To achieve something that cannot be done on the website (44%)
A lot of essential information, for example about fees for legal services, are not readily available on websites, and many people distrust sites where such information is published, because fees will vary on a case to case basis for a number of reasons. Whether you want your virtual receptionist to provide fee information or need them to take full details so that you can provide a quote, with Answer UK how this type of call is handled will be tailored to suit your individual needs.
Having to rearrange an appointment at short notice is also much easier on the telephone, because it is always best to have an instant answer. In this and many other scenarios, making a phone call is simply more convenient.
Why do people call businesses?
The Google report looked at why potential clients called a business directly from a search. Not surprisingly, most of this was to glean information that was either not available on the business website, or needed to be checked for accuracy.
The principal reason for telephoning a business was to check opening hours. If clients are travelling a considerable distance to visit your legal practice, or for example, if you specialise in family law and appointments need to fit around childrena��s schedules and/or the availability of childcare, they will want to know that the information they have about opening hours is accurate.
In terms of businessesa�� own websites and web directories such as Yelp, it is not uncommon for opening hours to quickly become out of date. A virtual reception service will check that they have the latest information about opening hours, as well as about availability of staff members.
When calls are made
The research phase of the client decision-making process is when a lot of calls are made. For example, a client searching for a music lawyer may ring around several entertainment law firms to gather information prior to making a decision about which firm to sign their new management contacts with.
In terms of clients contacting local businesses, for example, trying to find a solicitor to draft a will, 76% of the survey respondentsa�� reasons for making that telephone call was to schedule an appointment.
Answer UKa��s virtual reception services team can either take and pass on messages regarding appointment scheduling, or can offer diary management services so that clients can book their appointments straight away a�� the choice is yours, and will be discussed in detail by your dedicated account manager.
Advantages of virtual reception services for sole trader
Many UK lawyers consider setting up their own practices, often opting to become sole traders. The LexisNexis Business of Law blog provides some useful information for those who are thinking of setting up on their own, including ensuring you are properly equipped to manage your paperwork, and to speak to a qualified accountant about whether it would be best for you to set up as a sole trader, LLP, or company.
We would like to add the importance of making sure your admin work is properly taken care of. Whilst everyone has no-doubt seen the movie lawyer in a constant state of disarray, who never-the-less manages to come good in the end, few actually want to be him.
Virtual reception services are an excellent choice for sole traders in the legal field. Whether you work from a home office or rent office space, you wona��t have to worry about finding the desk space for anybody else. You will also be able to focus, for example, on keeping your paperwork up-to-date without being distracted by the phone ringing.
Remember, with Answer UKa��s virtual reception services you pay based on the volume of calls answered, so you can help to keep control of your overheads and can even pass these savings on to your clients.
Advantages of a virtual receptionist in larger firms
Larger law firms can also benefit from the services of a virtual receptionist. With Answer UK you can set up an overflow call handling service, which means that calls will still be answered quickly, professionally, and in a friendly manner when your own receptionists are busy, off sick, or away from their desk.
Our virtual reception services are offered on monthly rolling contracts (after an initial seven-day free trial) and you are able to change your pricing plan and call answering options at any time a�� so, for example, if your trusted reception manager is signed off sick for a month, your virtual receptionist team can answer all of your calls for the duration of their sick leave, returning to regular overflow call handling once your own receptionist is well enough to return to work.
This is a much more affordable and reliable alternative to using a temp agency; a temp drafted in to cover sick leave may struggle to pick up all the nuances of the business quickly enough, and you may lack the time to train them. If you have already been using our overflow call handling services then your personal account manager will check in with you to make sure that any necessary additional information is passed on to your call handling team. This also means that your own receptionist wona��t have to worry about mistakes being made while they are away, and can concentrate on getting better.
If you are new to our services, your Answer UK account manager will talk through all the information you want your virtual receptionist to handle when they set up your account.
Book your seven-day free trial
At Answer UK we offer a seven-day free trial a�� you dona��t even have to give us any payment details. After this seven-day period, we will provide your virtual reception services on a rolling monthly contract, with no hidden costs and the ability to make changes at any time.
To book your seven-day free trial, contact us today on: 0330 700 1222.
LexisNexis Business of Law Blog (Top 10 tips for going solo): http://businessoflaw.lexisnexis.co.uk/ten-tips-for-lawyers-going-solo/