Call Handling in Intake

4 minutes

The majority of every hour your team spends as part of the intake staff should be on the phone. Mastering call handling will make your team far more effective – and efficient. Every call should follow a clear path from intro to retainer.
The Phone Success Doctor, Chris Mullins, uses a simple call structure that is easy to remember and effective. Problem. Agitate. Solution (P.A.S.). As Chris explains, “State the problem and secure the prospect’s agreement that the problem exists.”

I frame this playfully when training for intake by reminding the team that they need “to give a few FUX.” Yep…. FUX – Frequently Used eXpressions that help convert your caller.

Frequently Used Expressions are the phrases your team should have at the tip of their tongue to convey authority, empathy and, yes, even problem-stating. Here are a few:

  • “Wow, you really need some support from a skilled attorney.”
  • “Gosh, the insurance company is really giving you the runaround.”
  • “You shouldn’t have to fight this battle alone.”

Imagine these phrases dotting the office walls where your team works. Feel free to ask them how many FUX they gave today. A little humor in the workplace goes a long way. Happy employees are better able to serve clients and happy clients don’t call and berate your team.

In the above example, can you identify the problem? Your caller is attempting to fight an insurance company without the expertise or backing of a lawyer. Agitate this problem by expressing empathy. Empathetic FUX should be echoing off your walls!

  • “I am so sorry to hear you are going through this, John.”
  • “I can’t imagine fighting this alone, Byron.”
  • “What a terrible experience you’ve been through, Liz.”

Once you have done this, it’s time to present the solution. As you can imagine there are quite a few FUX to give there too, and these are hugely important FUX! This is where your team must instill the caller with confidence based on your firm’s expertise.

  • “Oh, John, this is exactly the sort of work we do all the time.”
  • “Byron, you need the expertise a lawyer will provide you. Let’s get you booked in right away.”
  • “Here’s what we’ll do, Liz. Attorney Smith is recognized for his work in this exact sort of litigation.”

Your intake team NEEDS concrete details to share with potential clients to routinely work into their calls. Arm them with a fact sheet they can easily reference. Your caller wants a reason to hire you and your team should give it to them!

They should be able to state previous successes, client testimonials, your online ratings, awards, accolades, etc. While it’s their job to consistently work this information into calls effortlessly, not only must you provide your team with accurate information updated frequently, but you must hold them accountable for using it! If you aren’t screening calls for this purpose you can bet these are not being sufficiently used to compel callers to action.

Lacking confidence isn’t the only reason callers don’t take action. Decision fatigue is another. We are all bombarded with choices constantly. These range from the size, strength, and flavor of your coffee to complex decisions like insurance. Make it easy for your caller by making decisions for them. The human brain is hardwired to do what it’s told – so TELL your callers what to do!

  • “John – you need to schedule your first call with Mr. Smith immediately. How’s tomorrow at 3 pm?”
  • “You need ongoing treatment, Byron. Allow me to make a referral to one of our trusted providers.”
  • “Liz, you need experienced counsel for this sort of claim. I’ll book a consultation with Mr. Jones.”

Throughout these exchanges, your team should be soliciting “micro-yesses.” Micro-yesses are buy-ins to steps toward the ultimate solution of retaining your firm. Another way to think about it is that you should always be trying to get ‘yes momentum’ in your calls.

One of the best outcomes to providing your caller with a solution is what I call the “moment of burden-transfer.” If your team has effectively identified the problem/solution and compelled the caller to take action by instilling confidence in your team, he or she will feel infinitely better than when the call began. The burden the new client carried has been transferred to the MOB (Moment Of Burden-transfer) Boss.

Two great things come out of identifying Mob Bosses on your intake team. First, you present an excellent opportunity to capture a positive review before anything can become more stressful
during the claims process. And secondly, you’ve found another way to recognize great call handling on your team.

Keep a 1950’s-era fedora and a box of cheap cigars at the ready so that you can have a wall of Mob Boss photos to showcase in an employee-only zone. These good-natured “mug shots” will highlight the individuals who are doing the good work of supporting clients and providing them with a solution to their problem.

You’ll note that I haven’t referenced an intake script. That’s intentional. I’m not a fan of scripts – and neither are most call handlers. A script can often feel awkward, and if you are hiring for intake, you really shouldn’t need it. What you do need, however, is a call path. This is the course every call should take regardless of who is handling it.

Again, this path should be boldly presented on the walls of your intake department or pinned to the inside of your cubes. Make it easy for your team to access the information they need from the friendly FUX to the confidence-building cheat sheet of testimonials, accolades, and achievements.

Stay tuned for another blog post in which we’ll discuss the call path.

Kerri is a proud member of TLP and has been serving the legal industry in marketing, intake and business development for over a decade. As CEO of KerriJames, she is relentless in her pursuit of improving intake so law firms can retain more cases without buying more leads. If your firm shares her hunger for growth, reach out and speak with Kerri.

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