Recently I was on this customer journey. Firstly, I scoured the web for ‘Lawyers in Bournemouth’ and then I telephoned the top five different practices.
Here is what happened…
First, the positives
- Each and every receptionist I spoke with was courteous, polite, friendly and wanting to be helpful
- Each of the five took my name and telephone number
Seemingly a great start – but here’s the bad news. In my view, not one made me feel like they wanted me to become a client. Each of them tried to pass me on to ‘someone else’ in the firm as quickly as possible – I assume a lawyer? Only one of them managed to connect me to another human, who did not seem to be a lawyer (I cannot be sure, because she made no introduction, except her name). Unfortunately, all she asked for was, again, my name and telephone number, details I had already given the receptionist. None of them took my email address.
By the end of that day, I had had five call backs, but not a single voicemail message.
As I mentioned at the beginning; the people who call your practice have made the effort to seek you out, something about your marketing messages has struck a chord with them. This means that they are ‘warm’, valuable prospects. So why are so many businesses letting us down when we’ve actually chosen to take that next step and reach out to the team? Why should that first ‘in-person’ experience be any less important than the previous steps? A truly well-trained receptionist is worth their weight in gold! They are your ‘Director of first impressions’.
In my ‘role’ as a prospective client for these exploratory calls, I explained that I needed a lawyer to help me with probate for my mother’s estate. When asked, ‘How can we help you?’, my opening statement was this:
“I need help with probate for my mother’s estate. I am the executor. Please can you tell me how much this may cost and approximately how long it would take?”
What could have been
Here’s how the receptionists could have developed the conversation to make me feel genuinely wanted as a client.
Oh, I am sorry to hear of your loss.
Thank you for taking the time to call us today and I am certain one of my colleagues will be able to help you.
My name is Jennifer, and if I may, I’d just like to ask you a few questions so that I can ensure we help you as quickly as possible, would that be OK?
Yes, of course, ask away.
Thanks. May I firstly take you name and telephone number?
Yes, of course. My name is Simon Tucker and the best number to reach me on is: 07790 484477
Thank you Mr Tucker and may I also take an email address?
Certainly – It’s firstname.lastname@example.org
You mentioned that you require probate for your mother’s estate and that you are the executor, may I please take your mother’s name and address?
Yes, of course. Her name was Gillian Tucker and her address is: 5, Evening Drive, Worcester, WR5 9AW
Thank you. I am guessing you live somewhere in the Bournemouth area, as you are seeking a local law firm, is that correct?
Yes, exactly. I live in Meyrick Park and would like to be able to deal with the whole thing locally, if possible?
Yes, that makes perfect sense and I am sure we can help you.
Now, if I may, I would like to put you on hold for a minute to see if I can connect you straight away with one of my colleagues who can answer your questions about cost and time.
Would that be OK, or would you prefer me to get someone to call you back at a convenient time to you?
I am happy to be put through now, if possible, thanks.
Thank you. I’ll put you on hold now and you’ll hear some music. I’ll be back with you as quickly as possible.
Hello Mr Tucker, it’s Jennifer again. I’m afraid all my colleagues in the probate department are currently busy.
If it’s OK with you, can you let me know what the best time would be for me to get one of them to call you back…?
Nobody minds when a call is professionally handled such as I have scripted above. As long as, of course, the call-back happens as promised!
Jennifer has taken enough detail to pass to her colleague. When that colleague calls me back, they can summarise what they know about me and what I want. That shows me that my details have been handed over in a very professional manner and I also don’t have to repeat it all over again. Now all that’s needed is to provide me with the answers to my questions and offer to either arrange a further discussion to get more detail form me or offer to do it there and then.
Handled in that way, I am much more likely to decide that I want to proceed with them.
It’s just a conversation
If you employ a receptionist, they are THE most important person in your business. All of your enquiries probably go through them first. If your customer-facing team are going to be able to deliver an exceptional first impression, they need to be able to focus 100% on the incoming caller. They need to learn and develop the skills of great conversation to make every potential caller feel welcome and wanted. (Note of caution: Do not try and have your staff use scripts! Conversations need to be natural). They don’t need to be lawyers, just great conversationalists.
Indeed, whatever your business – Accountant, Architect, Quantity Surveyor or Builder – if you have a receptionist, please invest time and money in training them. It will pay back 10 times over in increased customers and loyalty. The conversation needs to be all about the customer.
If you spend time in conversation to ask the right questions, LISTEN to their answers and develop a true understanding of what your potential customer wants, then all you have to do is select the right product or services that are actually going to make a real difference to their lives.