Here's a bit more of what Chris and Ben talked about:
The key to battling this is to realize that the phone is not simply a communication tool but a marketing tool, if not the most important marketing tool. The receptionist is probably the one answering the call and is probably the person who they see when they first come in. It is a critical position and it is critical that the person you have in it recognizes their importance. The receptionist is the first salesperson. In fact, they shouldn’t even be called a “receptionist,” they should be called something creative that reflects their actual role. Regardless of what they’re called, they need to be taught the importance of marketing and their position in the sales scheme. Most believe their job is to be courteous and polite; it is not. Their job is to sell.
In most firms the receptionist will not just be tasked with answering phones and greeting people but also with administrative duties which can take away from their ability to serve the customer on the phone. Either they are distracted or unprepared to take a call. The person answering the phone should always assume the person calling is a new client looking to retain services. And they should never ask if the caller wants to set up an appointment, just have them offer a time in a consultative, assumptive appointment close (i.e. “I’ve got an opening for you to come in and meet with Mr. Smith tomorrow at 2:00).
The best way to fix all of this and get it into practice is to begin recording intake calls. Making recordings will allow the intake staff member to hear exactly what it sounds like to speak to them on the phone and will be able to improve their service with guidance from you. And the thing is that a lot of places employ more than one person in such a role, or they bring in new people or have temps so a great thing is to standardize all telephone interaction with scripts. Scripts for FAQs, scripts for common case types, there should be a script for every common phone situation so that your staff knows exactly how they should handle each situation.
Some staff might be averse to having their performance on the phone recorded and analyzed. This makes it very important to build a relationship with them in regards to this program. They may feel like they have done something wrong or that they have been underperforming. Make sure the staff knows that it is not anything they have done wrong but that it is a new approach. In fact, it may be best to delegate some of the responsibilities of the “receptionist” to others so that they have more time and attention directed toward their important role as first contact for a potential client. This will ease the psychological aspect of transition as they will welcome less to do so long as they utilize the new telephone practices.
If you are interested in a complete phone system specifically designed for law firms, Great Legal Marketing offers the Phone Success System. This offer is for everyone, but Great Legal Marketing members recieve pricing discounts for all our marketing packages and products.