Legal technology has opened doors for law firms to exponentially expand the base of potential clients they can reach and service. With just a quick search on Google, prospective clients have the accessibility to find legal services at their fingertips — it’s almost as easy as ordering takeout.
There’s no doubt that the efficiency and on-demand nature of digital processes have opened new growth opportunities for law firms. However, it also poses new challenges in regards to how law firms market themselves, retain and attract new business, and service clients.
Why start with client intake? We’ve found that many law firms rely on their accolades to drive business. While this may initially attract certain clients, there is a distinct difference between “deciding to contact the firm” and “deciding to hire an attorney.”
Defining a streamlined client intake process
Before your firm can reap the benefits of a streamlined client intake process, you need to analyze your current process and define parameters. We recommend starting by documenting your firm’s current intake process.
This includes every detail from how information is captured, where it’s stored, how it’s used, and who is responsible for managing this process. Creating a visual of your intake will help identify areas of improvement and start the conversation towards improving your intake for an optimized experience for clients.
It’s important to note that client intake is not a one-person job. It should be a team effort with strategic touchpoints that keep the client engaged. For intake to be successful, you should get input from your staff on how they envision the process. Making intake a collective effort across staff will create accountability and increase motivation to implement a smooth client experience.
Once you have your current intake process documented and feedback from staff, here are a few items to consider to reframe your intake process:
Initial contact: On average, your law firm has less than 30 seconds to provide a stellar first impression on a prospective client. This makes the initial touchpoint vital to how you secure new business and set the tone for the attorney-client relationship.
Intake questions: What information is vital to move forward? This could include preferred contact method, case details, potential risks that would disqualify the lead as a client, and how they found your firm. Your intake questions should be concise, and not take too much of the client’s time.
Follow-up: This is typically where law firms lose the opportunity to close on a prospective client. Lawyers are busy, with limited time and it can be easy for tasks to fall through the cracks. To keep lawyers and staff accountable for prospective clients in the funnel, you can use resources that trigger certain tasks or reminders to specific team members. Simply incorporating automated workflows into your intake process can save up to 60% of your staff’s time while keeping leads warm.
Outsource aspects of your firm’s client intake process
The ABA reported that 42% of law firms take more than 3 days to return a call. In this timeframe, a prospective client has likely moved on in their search for counsel. In fact, about 85% of new clients won’t bother calling back.
As we touched on before, intake is not a one-person job. Even managing just a few prospective clients can quickly get overwhelming and open the opportunity for neglecting key touchpoints. You should have dedicated staff who only focus on the client’s journey during intake.
If you’re currently working with little staff bandwidth, it may be time to consider hiring someone. Luckily, outsourcing a virtual paralegal or assistant is fairly simple with the right resources, planning, and clear expectations.
Whether your firm has internal staff or you opt for hiring a virtual assistant, using law practice management software will keep your staff accountable and information accessible from anywhere.
Add some flair to your firm’s client intake
First impressions begin long before you get a client on a consultation call. The internet is the consumer’s best friend and law firms would be remiss if they didn’t assume clients were researching them on Google. With just a basic search of “law firms near me,” prospective clients have hundreds, if not thousands of law firms in their view. Of course, they’re only looking at the first page.
This is why it’s essential to consider a client’s online behaviors in your legal marketing strategy. A strong, optimized website will reveal how your firm conducts business. When it comes to intake, including custom forms on your website is a quick way to 1) effectively capture leads and 2) showcase your firm’s use of modern processes that enhance the client’s experience.
Why more firms are choosing an automated client intake process
Over half of consumers consider themselves more digital than ever before. They also expect digital options when interacting with companies. This goes for all products and services, especially how they retain legal counsel.
If it wasn’t apparent before, incorporating the digital process is more than a nice to have. It’s essential to the profitability of your law firm. In addition to an automated intake process, features like online payments and eSignature are two easy ways to win new business.
Implement a custom client intake at your firm
With the right resources, your law firm can create an efficient intake process that saves you time and does the heavy lifting.