I recently shared Intake Expert Chris Mullin’s formula for increasing phone conversions. P.A.S. – Problem, Agitate, Solution. This simple formula is an excellent, memorable and effective tool to help your team retain more clients. But, it is just one component of what Chris agrees is the overall call path your intake team should follow.
Note that I didn’t use the word Script.
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.
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 “Frequently Used eXpressions” to the confidence-building cheat sheet of testimonials, accolades, and achievements.
The call path should be provided to your team in a laminated card to reference constantly.
Simple enough, right? You would think! And yet call a business and note how many fail to greet their caller with a welcome, an introduction, and an offer to help! My recommended greeting:
“Thank you for calling Smith & Jones. This is NAME. How can I help you today?”
Callers will typically “launch” at that point (which is again why calls should go directly to intake whenever possible). If you have a receptionist taking calls, you may want to include an initial qualifying question to filter leads quickly.
“Thank you for calling Smith & Jones. This is NAME. Are you calling about a new legal matter?”
Your initial exchange must also including asking the caller for his or her name. It is shocking how few people do this! The sound of one’s name is shown to activate pleasure centers in the brain. Therefore, your intake team should use that person’s name throughout the call as a means to build rapport and trust.
“My gosh, we have a lot to cover! But, before we go any further, again, I’m Kerri. And your name?”
Any time you solicit information from the caller, thank them. Similarly, any time you are going to take action such as a hold, a transfer, data gathering, ask for permission. This are all building blocks to trust.
“John, I’d like to take a minute to consult with my colleague on your situation. Would you mind if I put you on a brief hold?”
No one is calling a lawyer’s office because they are having a great day. Your team’s default MUST be empathy. Express empathy and let the caller know they are in good hands.
- “Oh, gosh. I’m so sorry to hear that, John. I can definitely help.”
- “I am so sorry you are dealing with that, Byron, but you’ve called the right place.”
- “What an ordeal! Let’s get you the help you need, Liz!”
Problem, Agitate, Solution was covered in a recent blog post you’ll want to revisit. Most callers want to tell their story and I suggest you let them. While an intake call resulting in a retainer shouldn’t exceed 45 minutes, it does indeed take about that long to greet, build rapport, identify, agitate and solve the problem, collect pertinent details, and close. Your caller needs to be heard. Launching directly into Q&A will make him or her feel like just another caller and it could ultimately hurt your chances of signing the client.
Use the story-telling phase to build rapport by connecting with your caller (and giving a few more Frequently Used eXpressions):
- “I know the intersection well.”
- “I was just there!”
- “I’ve often done the same thing!”
These little connection points show you are listening to your caller (which helps keep your team engaged) and you are connecting with them. This rapport-building creates a shared experience that will help your team close.
The Solution component of PAS may very well be submitting to an official intake. Ask permission to do that before moving into a Q&A portion of the call.
“John, I want to collect all the details that will enable Mr. Smith to review you case. May I ask you a few questions?”
“Here’s what we’ll do Byron. I’ll collect some important information for Mr. Smith. Is that alright?”
Before we go any further, Liz, I want to ensure I have all the necessary details. May I collect some additional information for my file?”
Close The Call
A good closing is a recipe for a good review, so you’ll want it done well. First, your call handler should restate their name. Remember, your caller is not likely to be in a good emotional place when they make this call. Retaining information could be a challenge.
“John, again, I’m Sam and I’m glad we were able to help you today. Are you feeling better?”
“I’m glad you called today, Byron. If you need anything, again, my name is Sam and I’m here to help.”
“Liz, thank you for trusting me with all these details. If you need anything, again, my name is Sam and I am happy to help.”
The closing is also a fantastic time to instill confidence in your caller using the firm-specific FUX that builds authority. Let the caller know they’ve done the right thing by calling you today. Ensure them that your team will be able to help and that they do not have to go through this alone.
Next, let your caller know what to expect. The vast majority of callers have never before contacted a law firm, it is the role of your intake specialist to be their guide.
- “I’ll follow up this call with an email outlining your next steps.”
- “Mr. Smith will be ready for you on Tuesday at 3 pm.”
- “Liz, I’m going to send you a link to provide some feedback on this call today.”
Finally, end with what Chris Mullins refers to as a WOW closing:
- “Did I answer all your questions?”
- “Is there anything else I can help you with?”
- “Well, Liz, let me be the first to welcome you to the firm.”
Imagine now that your team is well-trained and set up for success. They have cheat sheets to highlight your expertise. They have a path to follow, laminated or posted boldly. They know the frequently used expressions that will achieve the firm’s intake goals! You’re done!
Training is never done! Let’s say that again for the folks in the back.
Training. Is. Never. Done.
No two calls will ever be the same and so every single call presents a unique challenge to your team. Only by setting standards and holding your team accountable can you ensure that every potential client is signed.
These tactics and strategies are not a one-time thing. To master them your team must commit to getting better every day. That means it is the perfect time to start talking about ongoing training and keeping them accountable.