Monthly Archives: September 2015

30% of new business opportunities lost even before the (telephone) conversation begins

Here we highlight the implications – particularly for Conveyancers – of some revealing and enlightening results from recent independent research conducted (not by us) on behalf of Cloud telephony providers, Concert Networks; a telephony company with a significant presence in the legal sector.

The research involved c. 140 “mystery shopping” telephone calls to a selection of 11 law firms at various times of day, reporting on how they responded.  You will find a link to an infographic summarising the overall results and some benchmarks on the Concert Networks website.

The findings and our evaluation below demonstrate that there is a lot of potential to adapt internal operations to make much better use of the telephone to:

  1. Convert more business, as sales opportunities are being wasted
  2. Give clients and prospects a better experience to help them value legal services more; and,
  3. Improve on client service.

The Lost Opportunities 

Let’s focus on conveyancing enquiries for starters.  In responding to the 50 calls that were made to enquire about conveyancing services of firms:

28% of callers (14) never managed to make contact with the law firm at all, instead being kept away by answerphones (mostly, but not all before 9 am), some being told to call back after 9am and engaged tones during office hours. The engaged tones suggest a serious problem with either staffing levels or availability of telephone lines and internal processes to handle the volume.  Whatever the reasons, these firms will be routinely losing substantial new business opportunities.

On a further 2 occasions, any caller would just have given up as they were kept on hold for so long.  We would expect them to hang up … and then call someone else; so again, the opportunity would be lost.

So that adds up to 30% of all these enquiries being lost even before the conversation can begin.  That leaves a big hole in returns on any marketing budget, which is substantially intended to prompt calls like these.

16% of people (8) who did answer calls did not deal with the enquiry at the time, but agreed to “come back later” on the telephone – during which time, we would expect any caller to call another solicitor as soon as they put the phone down – so more marketing budget wasted!

[Note:  A key point in selling conveyancing services is to recognise that consumers really only know two questions to ask, although they may be concerned about much more that you can help them with:  a) How much will  it cost?  and b) How long will it take?

While they have one of these burning questions in their mind – with “how much will it cost” the most obvious to ask (and easiest for conveyancers to answer), they will call someone else if they fail at their first attempt.  If your people did the right job in choosing to answer the “how long” question effectively, the enquirer probably wouldn’t make that other call to another conveyancer.]

Does it matter that lawyers don’t answer the phone before 9am?

I don’t believe all law firms need to be open to the public from 8am or stay open until early evening.  Some should.  However, mobile and online communications can open up more flexible access to lawyers too.  Just like doctors – people increasingly expect to be able to contact a lawyer in a meaningful way outside their own working time; so more consideration should be given to how best to satisfy the changing needs of clients outside standard 9 to 5 office hours.

Looking at the results of this research, the chances of getting a meaningful response before 9:00 am are currently very slim.  Of the 22 calls made before 9am:

  • Only 3 dealt with the enquiry there and then.  Not only did these conveyancers seize the opportunity to convert these enquiries into business; they are also likely to be the ones that pick up the business from callers that had no joy speaking to other firms.  Maybe yours?
  • 8 received an ansaphone message, so callers didn’t get any response – with 5 of these calls made after 8:45am.
  • 7 agreed that they or someone else would call back later – too late we say, as discussed above.
  • 2 were told to call back after 9am when the office opened.
  • 2 agreed to send “quotes” by email.  I’m afraid these are lost opportunities too.  Although the conveyancers may have responded eventually, they lost the chance to let the caller experience what it feels like to be a valued client during that call.  Critical we say to selling conveyancing services on “value”, not just “price.”

Maybe these statistics are a bonus for the firms that see an opportunity they can tap into; to attract more business and provide more of what (some) clients want by extending their opening hours.  Maybe they can do that by providing employees with more flexible working hours that might work better for some of them too.

Bear in mind too though that telephony is developing too to give more options.  For example, more innovative use of telephony systems might enable calls to be handled more flexibly, without the need for a physical presence behind the front desk.  Could that work for you?

We can help you review and develop your telephony operations – not just the systems you buy, but how they are implemented, aiming to give your business maximum competitive advantage.   Redesigning how teams operate, developing opportunities to improve how people work through integration with other applications and improvement of communications with clients are all probably part of the initiatives that flow from there.

Thankyou to Concert Networks for sharing these research findings with us.  The infographic summarising other aspects of their findings can be found here.

For more information, contact Allan Carton or Frank Manning on 0161 929 8355.

Is there a place for more e-learning as part of a “blended” approach to training and development – engaging more people?

Blended LearningThinking about how law firms can introduce more effective and comprehensive training, not just for lawyers, but for management and support staff too; we have been tracking options to use a blend of traditional face-to-face training supported by more affordable and manageable e-learning.  

If we can find effective ways to develop more skills in law firms and increase the uptake, we should be making it happen now as there is still a significant gap that needs to be filled. Particularly for support staff; but also to develop and embed more personal skills at all levels.

How is e-learning developing? 

There are reservations in the legal sector about the effectiveness of e-learning to be weighed up against the benefits;  more affordable, more accessible anytime, anywhere, with manageable options to plan and track progress.

I don’t envisage e-learning being the only solution for any practice, but there are many benefits in an e-platform (Learning Management System) to plan and track learning in all it’s guises – and there is potential to be more innovative and make more use of what are now more effective and engaging e-learning options too.

The experience that can now be delivered through e-learning, which can include challenging simulations, is moving fast, with improvements in relevant technologies.  The success of Lynda.com discussed below is just one significant indicator.  It is therefore well worth exploring some of the new developments in e-learning that might make it more attractive and effective for you in more situations as part of the blend of training available to your people.

Learning Technology’s Summer Forum – Top 3

Ask any three people at June’s Learning Technologies Summer Forum what the hottest topics in eLearning were and you would probably get three different answers.  Yet there are some definite ‘buzzwords’ that get repeated out there as the ‘must haves’.

The ‘Top 3’ things people were talking about there:

Gamification

The use of ‘game thinking’ and ‘game mechanics’ in e-learning and simulations was unquestionably one of the hottest topics. Whether it’s a game used in an assessment at the end of some e-learning, a mini-game through the e-learning, or a standalone game, 40% of the top 1,000 firms now claim to use games for staff learning. Reflecting this, e-learning providers have seen a 35% increase in requests for ‘gamification’ in the past year.

The beauty of gamification is that learners can learn while having fun, learn from getting it wrong, see how they compare to others, check progress and improve.

The trick is simply to get the user immersed in the game (or simulation) from the start. But beware, there are tricks to getting it right with gamification. If you don’t, you may leave the learner wishing they just had the information on an A5 sheet!  It works best when combining skills in designing fun games with experience in learning design.  As a taster, you can discover some of the principles behind learning games from Dan Mascall here.

Video Learning

If gamification is high on the priorities for some commercial business, others cite one of the hottest trends in this areas as the end of dull and daunting ‘point and click e-learning’.  In tthe past, this has often taken months for the various teams to get together, with panels of people ‘sucking the life out the content’ before it’s published. Instead, people now realise they could quickly and cheaply listen to experts by pulling bite-size videos together, creating discussion boards and sharing links.

It takes only a few hours for an expert to publish a video on a subject. Once published and readily available, it has a higher chance of staff listening to it – possibly even in their own time, on their own mobile.

Learning & Development could find themselves with a growing role in collating videos and other packages for their Learning Management System (LMS).  It’s interesting that Lynda.com – often quoted as the market leader for producing bite-size, expert videos – was bought  up recently by LinkedIn for a staggering $1.6bn; perhaps the most dramatic sign of the times. This trend has important implications for Learning Management Systems too.

Integration of published videos as trackable SCORM objects in any LMS is increasingly a key differentiator between learning providers now.

Adaptive Learning

The training industry and the learning platforms available are behind other sectors in terms of customising and personalising user experience, where things are beginning to move faster.

Take Amazon – they predict what you might like based on what they know about you. Training can operate in this way too. You could tailor training to what the user needs to know depending on their job role, competency and development needs.

You would now want your LMS to include diagnostic assessment and performance support tools, that can create personal learning paths.  That should be on their development roadmap if they don’t already deliver it today.  If not, you would probably want to start looking around at alternatives.

Imagine a process that leads staff to study the gaps in their learning most relevant to their current role and future prospects; and equally importantly, relieves them from having to sit through irrelevant learning on areas they already know and understand well?

I am interested in your thoughts on training and the role that e-learning and simulations can play in law firms going forwards.  Would you want to try these options further for your practice in the future as part of a blended mix of training options?

Monitoring Internal Threats

The potential for employees to steal data, breach confidentiality and security policies or corrupt your internal systems is increasing and it’s clear from the increasingly stringent demands of clients that this is an increasing concern for them.

Compliance to ISO 270001 is heading up the agenda for commercially focused legal practices as management of these risks becomes a higher priority for clients; much in the same way as “effective” Disaster recovery and business Continuity have become essential rather than just a “good to have”.  Maybe – for a period of time – ISO 270001 could be a meaningful differentiator before it becomes a standard requirement?  It is not easy to implement, but it does instill good practice that should really be developed anyway.

Anyway – Is the type of solution outlined in this video of interest to law firms now?  Is there a gap to be filled and do you think this would contribute effectively to managing internal security in your practice?