How can law firms convert more telephone enquiries into clients?

December 09, 2019

Published last year, Professor Ian Cooper’s report – Converting Telephone Enquiries: Residential Conveyancing – was a damning indictment of UK law firms.

They were reported to be missing out on millions of pounds of business by responding poorly to everyday telephone requests for residential conveyancing quotes. Research calls had been made to almost 400 law firms and 85 per cent of them treated such enquiries as a “low level admin task”, with 91 per cent failing to differentiate themselves from competitors either during the call or in follow-up emails.

Quotes conversion failure

And callers were not asked for their name in more than a third of calls, with handlers failing to ask if the caller wanted to “go ahead” after receiving quotes in 97 per cent of cases. According to Professor Cooper, most law firms were “condemning themselves to the inevitability of quotes conversion failure”.

If UK law firms are so bad at responding to telephone requests for quotes for residential conveyancing (let alone converting them into fee-paying clients), it’s fair to assume their response also falls short when it comes to other enquiries or ones that come from other channels.

Research reported by The Law Society Gazette in May suggests that more than a third of UK law firms fail to convert any new business enquiries (or do not measure how many enquiries are converted each month) from their digital marketing efforts, which is the “highest rate of non-conversion in the professional services industry”.

How to get it right

Whether it’s a telephone call, online form or email, the enquirer’s initial experience of your law firm should be a good one. That means answering their call quickly (within three rings is advised) in a friendly, enthusiastic and professional manner (or sending them an email quickly). First impressions count. If an enquirer has a bad experience, they’re more likely to go elsewhere, of course.

All representatives of your firm should realise the importance of enquiries – converting them should be a key objective. Staff answering phone enquiries should have the necessary personal qualities and knowledge. They must quickly find out what the enquirer needs, taking notes if necessary – not forgetting the caller’s name and contact details. Details should be read back to the caller to ensure accuracy and they should be asked how they want to be contacted. Empathy and reassurance are essential when dealing with some enquiries/enquirers.

As we have already learned, the opportunity to differentiate your law firm should be taken. Let them know why they have come to the right people (but with subtlety). The language used is also crucial. Professor Cooper recommends using “proactive language” (eg “when we represent you” rather than “if we were to represent you”), so a caller feels reassured that you can help them and you want them to become your client.

One key question

All questions relating to the enquiry should be answered where possible. If more time is needed to find out information, the caller should be told when they will receive a reply (this promise should be kept, of course). Once you have responded, a quick follow-up call (not too soon or too late) can help to convert a lead into a fee-paying client.

And if you’re in any doubt about how well your law firm is dealing with telephone enquiries and doing it yourself isn’t an option, get someone else to act as a “mystery shopper”, Professor Cooper advises. Get them to contact your firm with a made-up enquiry, to test the response. When considering how well your law firm responds to telephone enquiries, Professor Cooper recommends you ask yourself one key question: “Would I choose me?”

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