3 Keys to Successful Intakes, Part 1: Before the Call
As the old saying goes, ”prepare to succeed or you’re preparing to fail.” This applies to managing your intakes, regardless of your firm’s size or practice area. If you’re hoping that whoever picks up the phone knows what to do, they don’t, and you’ve equipped them to fail.
Getting your intake department ducks in a row is not terribly difficult, but it does require work. Further, the needs of small firms versus larger ones can be very different. Essentially, firms that do not use an intake department prepare differently than those that do, though they are naturally related.
Below, you’ll find things you can do to prepare your intake team, department, person, or yourself for success when the phone rings.
ICYMI: In Case You Missed It
This is the third in our series of blogs that cover intake case management for law firms. Here are links to the series:
- Preamble: The Marketing and Intake Cycle
- How to Create an Intake Department for a Personal Injury Firm (or Any Firm)
- 3 Keys to Successful Intakes Part 1: Before the Call
- 3 Keys to Successful Intakes Part 2: On the Call
- 3 Keys to Successful Intakes Part 3: After the Call
- How to Determine the Best Intake Tools for Law Firms of Any Size
TIP: What cases do you want? Have you identified those characteristics? Can your intake personnel identify those cases quickly on the call? How? The right tools can help massively, but knowing these criteria ahead of time can make a world of difference to intake success.
Small Firm Call Preparation: Establish Standards, Train, Be Ready to Share
Before receiving a phone call, you need to begin with the end in mind. And no, that end is not “sign this case.” What if it’s a case you don’t want? That leads to the question of what cases you want and how to ascertain that on a call.
We discussed a list in our “How to Create an Intake Department” article, and you should have one that is bespoke to your firm and its goals. Do not be afraid to make changes to your intake form or guide, but understand that changes have consequences as far as time invested.
Establish Standards for the Cases You Want
As crazy as it sounds, your firm probably does not want every case that calls. What does your firm want from a case? Do you want specific types of injuries – motorcycle, for example? It is a fundamental question, and you should tailor your marketing with it in mind. Look at your checklist or script and ask yourself, how will you know what case to take?
Train Anyone Who May Take an Intake Call
Yes, anyone. The alternative is to assign one person to answer intake calls. That, of course, requires you to be able to route calls properly and so on. Training is essential to ensure you get the information you need and establish proper form.
Remember: You don’t practice until you get it right. You practice until you can’t get it wrong. The more your staff train, the more effectively they will convert intake calls.
Be Ready to Share Data From the Call
How is the data from an intake call recorded? How will it be shared? That’s something you should think about before a call ever comes. We’ve seen smaller firms use anything from bleeding-edge intake software to Post-It™ notes. The system you have in place before the call largely determines your success afterward. Get organized. Use the best tools you can get your hands on, including case management software solutions.
Large Firm Call Preparation: Integrate, Use Intelligent Tools, and Get Your Money’s Worth
Firms of sufficient size generally aren’t relying on receptionists to take intake calls. They either have their own intake department or contracted that task out. In either case, there are a few more moving parts and opportunities to make the experience better for potential clients. More importantly, the tools you use can make an enormous impact at this scale.
Integration Saves Time (and Money) and Improves the Client Experience
Integration, in this case, means seamlessly merging the data that comes from intakes into the case files you’ll use moving forward. You’re not using Word documents or sticky notes at this level. You likely already have a software-based solution – or several. Ideally, you have a cloud-based solution for security and the utility of having a single file source for all case management tasks.
When you’re a law firm operating at scale, this integration can mean the difference between hours of extra work and headaches or a genuinely smooth experience for your staff and your clients. Do a cost-benefit analysis if you’re spending hours porting data between platforms or reinventing the wheel. You may find a more capable system that can save you hundreds of hours a year – hours you could be spending on more cases.
Put Intelligent Tools in the Hands of Your Intake Staff
This is really simple. You would not plow a field with a hammer. You’d use a tractor and a plow. And when a better tractor and plow came along that made plowing much easier, you’d consider the benefits of upgrading. Don’t arm your intake staff with old tools (or wrong tools in the worst cases).
Staff should be training on the tools. Seems obvious, but sometimes it’s not. Part of preparation is the ability to employ the tools you have to their best effect.
Take Advantage of Every Feature Available
You’re already using software solutions of some kind. You’re training on it. Are you using their full capabilities? More importantly, do they offer capabilities that enable you to do the job of intakes faster and more accurately? Do they help you pursue the cases you want without wasting time with clients you cannot help?
Many firms have case management tools and software that they simply are not taking advantage of. You’re paying for all of it, so use all of it. And if it’s still not working for you, well, call us.
You’re Ready for the Call, But What Do You Do When the Potential Client Is on the Line?
You’re prepared to succeed, so the rest is easy right? Not necessarily. Preparation is important, but you have to perform when the lights come up. We’re with you.
Our next piece will cover things you can and should be doing when you’ve got a potential client on the line. Is it rocket science? No. But there is some science involved. You’ll see!
Want to learn more about GrowPath and how its patented tools can help you manage your firm? Schedule a demo today.