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.