When it comes to managing a firm’s marketing and “sales” efforts, many only focus on getting the prospective client to the door (most likely a virtual door). But to convert a potential client to an actual client requires just as much effort, efficiency, and effectiveness as any other part of the client growth process. So, spending time and effort analyzing and improving the intake process is vital to expanding a firm’s clients.
Law firms have always revered the receptionist desk. Interior designs of firms, old and new, recognize that it is a focus of those walking into offices. Many, recognizing the importance not only of the desk but the person sitting behind it, have appreciated that the receptionist was the Director of First Impressions. Today, our first impressions are made in many different locales.
Our websites make most first impressions. While a snapshot of facts, photos, and features is important, the opportunity to make a first impression (or blow it) actually lasts longer than most imagine. Just like a beautiful reception area and desk can be effectively neutered by an unprofessional receptionist, a beautiful website is worthless if the means of contacting and engaging with someone at the firm is cumbersome or difficult.
Every avenue for communication should be available, clear, quick, and meaningfully responsive. These avenues include chat boxes, email contact forms, text messaging, and of course, telephone calls. These avenues should be available on social media platforms too. The person who receives that initial outreach should be thought of as a salesperson, where interpersonal skills are more important than technical knowledge or experience.i They should be able to promptly connect a licensed lawyer with the potential client when necessary. That means the lawyers need to be trained on the process too.
Once a potential client is identified (one who passes a screening and conflict checks process), the conversion of the potential client to an actual client (the “signing” or onboarding) should follow a prescribed procedure that is also prompt, efficient, easy, and professional. Technology should make this process a snap. Determine how best to communicate with this potential client by asking them. Text, email, internet portal? Make sure the platform is easy to use. Sending them the paperwork to get them on board is not enough. They must sign it. Follow up with them. Be with them – on the phone, online, in person – when they sign. Again, this requires some terrific interpersonal skills.