In our office, we do intake and phone training every month. In intake meetings, which are generally led by our marketing director, the team listens to and dissects calls – both the good and the bad. Sometimes we have transcripts prepared of the calls, too.
Recently we had a spate of calls where we felt our team had “lost control” of the caller. The marketing director brought these calls to my attention (meaning: “this is serious”), and I listened to the recordings and had transcripts made of a few of them.
Losing control of a call can happen when the caller is upset about something: not getting a timely call back; a miscommunication about what will happen next in the process; a rejection of their case. The intake team member gets flustered and starts to respond to the caller’s anxiety, which seldom ends well.
To make matters worse, the intake person usually has had nothing to do with why the person on the other end of the call is calling. They are “stuck in the middle.”
Too many of these calls were not leaving the caller in a good place. In some cases, our staff didn’t know how to respond and didn’t know what to do. They were not only “stuck in the middle” but were “standing there naked” with nothing helpful to say.
Here is how I coached the intake team on how to handle these calls:
- Own the call and take responsibility. It wasn’t you who caused the issue, but now the bullets are flying, and we can’t do anything about the fact that it should never have happened.
- Tell the caller that, one way or another, YOU are taking responsibility for resolving the issue.
- Make sure you understand exactly what they are upset about.
- Tell the caller, “I am sorry you experienced that. This is not how it’s supposed to happen at BenGlassLaw, and I am going to fix it and let our quality assurance team know that you had this issue.”
- The goal is to get the caller off the phone knowing that YOU are now personally responsible for making sure the CALLER gets the right response to his issue, and it’s going to happen within the next 30 business hours.
- Find out from the caller the best way for you, or someone else in the office, to communicate with the caller by the time you have promised (email, call, text)
- Once the caller is off the phone, do not let the issue go unresolved. Keep moving up the food chain until you find the answer. It may be that one of our attorneys has been busy and hasn’t had time to call back. Resolving the issue may be setting a specific phone appointment even if the appointment isn’t going to occur for a week or so.
- Words we never want to hear from our team:
- “I’ll let you leave a voicemail with NAME” – people HATE leaving voice mails, and it’s probably the reason why they are calling now
- “It’s not my department.” Whoever answers the phone represents our law firm. Whatever must be solved, our team will take full ownership of the call and the issue
- “Call back later.” No caller will end a call with our firm without a scheduled appointment if one is warranted.
If you are running a small law firm, the money used to generate calls comes out of your profit. Don’t let it run right out the bottom of the bucket.