By michelle_pgs | January 24, 2022

We’d had a lovely day tasting English sparkling wine in the beautiful Kent countryside, where the whole experience was delightful.

We were now looking forward to dinner at a nearby pub owned by the winery, where the website looked impressive and the booking process (via email) had been really friendly and helpful.

Upon arrival, we were warmly greeted at the welcome desk by the waitress.

So far, so good.

The waitress said she couldn’t find our booking. I realized this was probably because I’d requested a table in my married name but sent the email from my maiden name, which had confused things. So I provided both names and asked the waitress to check both.

I’ll need to discuss with my manager where to seat you,” she said.

Ok, fair enough.

She disappeared and came back with the manager.

Without any welcome or greeting, he just said “Can I help you?” (with a tone of voice you’d use when someone has wandered onto your property and shouldn’t be there…).

Either he hadn’t been briefed by the waitress and didn’t know what the issue was, or he had decided not to listen to what she had said.

Either way, we had to start again by explaining we had a booking but that it might be in one of two names.

This might seem like a small thing.

But it set the wrong tone for the start of our experience at this pub and ‘undid’ the good first impression we’d had from the initial greeting by the waitress and the email booking department.

We all know that every business needs to make a good first impression on new clients.

But it’s also essential that the second (and every subsequent) person who deals with that client maintains that good impression. This is why handover between staff members is so important.

In law firms, the first impression is often made by the person who answers the phone.

If the client explains their situation to that person and is then put through to someone else (for example a receptionist putting someone through to a fee-earner), then of course the first person must make a good impression. But what happens when the second person takes the call is just as important.

If the client has already explained the situation to the receptionist and then the fee-earner takes the call and just says “How can I help?“, how does that make the client feel?

They probably feel like the receptionist didn’t listen.

Or that the fee-earner didn’t care enough to ask the receptionist for the information.

No matter how good your website looks, or how well your receptionist answers the phone if the handover isn’t done well the good first impression is quickly lost.

And for law firm inquiries that could easily mean the prospective client not converting into a paying client and going to a competitor instead.

Take action

Start with a quick review of your existing handover procedure between your staff members:

  • Does your receptionist brief the fee-earner or just put the call through?
  • Are your fee-earners trained in how to take the initial call in a way that creates a good first impression?
  • And how does the whole process work if the initial inquiry is via email rather than phone (because first and second impressions still count here as well)?

Some small changes could make a big difference to the second impression your prospective clients get, and significantly improve both the number of new clients you get and the likelihood they will tell others about the great service they received.

Improving how inquiries are handled in your law practice is just one way to convert more clients.

If you’d like more in-depth help from me including training on how to ask prospective clients the ‘magic questions’ that will show them the value of your services so they say “yes” to higher fees, then come to my one-day online workshop  ‘Profitable Practice Growth Secrets for Small Law Firms’.

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And if you’d like something you can access immediately, my free online training session The 5 Step Consultation System For Converting More Enquiries Into High-Paying Clients will show you the 3 Biggest Reasons why your initial consultations or phone calls aren’t bringing you as many new clients as you want. I will also show you my complete 5 Step Consultation System for getting more of your ideal clients to say ‘yes’ to working with you. You can access the training for free HERE.

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