In September, everyone’s thoughts inevitably touch on 9/11. During my last trip to New York City I went on a boat tour of the Hudson.
One of the areas they pointed out was a site next to the river that had been an old wharf. It was an enormous area of concrete larger than a football field. In the hours after 9/11 it turned out to be the perfect site to set up an emergency medical evacuation center.
In response to an appeal from the Mayor, boat owners came from far and wide to transport the wounded across the river to this site. Many lives were saved as a result and the event turned into the single largest evacuation by boat in history. As well as the wounded, a total of 500,000 stranded people were rescued from Manhattan Island in only nine hours! It was an absolutely incredible display of responsiveness.
Even in our business lives, a lot can hang in the balance based upon how well you have orchestrated your lead response time. Depending on the industry you are in, the stakes can include tens of thousands of dollars, your relationship with a key customer or even a serious injury or loss of life.
I recently spoke with one of my clients, Len Fodera with Fodera, Long and Lalli, about the issue of responsiveness. Len’s firm is one of the most prominent legal practices in Eastern Pennsylvania specializing in helping accident victims. He often has to work with prospects that are having the single worst day of their lives. I asked him how he has leveraged using an outside call center to deal with the enormous challenges that this presents.
Your leads have a very short shelf life. A prospect can potentially be worth a million dollars for the next hour and then worth absolutely nothing if you don’t have a better lead response time than your competition. How do you handle that reality?
First, we utilize a call center like SUITE 1000 because they are experienced in handling legal intakes and they have the ability to “connect” with callers in a fast and efficient manner. That means answering calls quickly, asking important qualifying questions, tracking the source of leads and then delivering information in a timely fashion.
During business hours, all messages are sent to my office via e-mail as soon as they are received and, depending on certain criteria, particularly urgent situations are delivered by phone as well. That process allows us to call each prospect back within minutes. Our staff is trained to treat each potential client in a caring and compassionate way. We have found that even if a prospect does not become a client, sending a follow-up letter and adding them to our e-mail list pays dividends because you never know when a friend or family member will have an accident.
Callers want to be able to reach your firm 24×7. How have you been able to meet this expectation in an affordable way?
Using a 24/7 service of the caliber of SUITE 1000 is invaluable for nights and weekends. They capture and screen every call. If a caller meets our criteria for immediate action, they contact our on-call staff member. We return these calls and actually send an investigator to meet the prospect. All leads are also delivered via e-mail, as they are received, so they can be reviewed.
You have a limited supply of time. How do you filter leads so you have the ability to give everyone the help that they need when they need it?
One of our criteria for filtering is urgency. If someone has just been involved in a serious accident and is calling from an emergency room, it is obviously a situation that requires an immediate call back. Even inquiries that don’t have that level of urgency are still important. At Fodera Long & Lalli we realize that anyone who has been injured has experienced a traumatic and personal violation. That is why every caller gets a “live” answer 24-hours a day and we follow-up and actually talk with all of them. Everyone deserves compassion and care. We can often direct an accident victim to helpful resources even if they don’t become a client.
A big piece of your business comes from referrals. How do you provide the kind of customer service that makes people want to send their family and friends to you?
We receive two types of referrals. Referrals from Attorneys who recognize that we are experienced Trial Lawyers who do not shy away from a good fight, and referrals from ordinary people who may or may not have been prior clients. Our first responsibility is to treat everyone with compassion and respect. A second, and often overlooked responsibility, is to communicate with our clients on a regular basis. We are proactive about making sure our clients stay updated on their case and know what to expect at each step along the way.
Len’s firm has put systems in place to ensure that he can provide great lead response times 24-hours a day, 365 days a year. What do you need to do to ensure you never lose a lead?
This blog was written by Laurie Leonard, the President of SUITE 1000, a U.S. based national telephone answering service, inbound call center and outsourced call center service. Her company has specialized in handling legal intake, sales leads, email lead response, appointment scheduling, customer service and help desk calls for over 20 years.