Friday, August 9, 2013
If you’ve called an airline or your phone carrier recently, you’ve likely encountered an automated greeting explaining that you may be able to receive faster assistance and answers to your most common questions by visiting them on the web. In the world of law, things work a bit differently. Your clients can’t buy tickets online or report an outage in the area, and for most attorneys, the end goal is to get clients off of your website and calling your office, not the other way around. But what happens in the hours when you, or your well-trained receptionist, aren’t able to field the calls?
Sure, you can send your callers to voicemail but some may want preliminary information before leaving their contact information; in these instances your site may serve as a resource, saving you time by answering prospective clients’ questions while weeding out many matters which you are not willing, or can’t, handle.
To create a site which assists prospective clients, consider the following:
What kinds of cases will you (and won’t you) take on? Most firms recognize the need to include a list of practice areas that they work in, encouraging site visitors to contact them for these types of cases. Equally important is creating a site which serves to filter out clients by explicitly stating certain types of cases you don’t want. For instance, not all elder law attorneys assist clients with veterans benefits but it’s easy to see how the layperson may not recognize the distinction between the field of elder law and veterans benefits. In this case, a quick note might state that your firm does not handle matters of this nature (and perhaps provide contact details of an attorney who does work in the area that you feel comfortable referring to site visitors).
Do you offer free consultations? If you’re like most attorneys, you hear this question almost daily. To save your firm time, consider including a note about this on the site.
What are your fees? Prospects want to know how much you charge. While you may not feel comfortable including dollar amounts on your site, you may consider adding a page which explains whether you charge on a flat-fee or hourly basis, and how estimates are provided before you begin work on a matter. This gives clients peace of mind knowing that they won’t be blindsided by a huge bill at the conclusion of their legal matter. You may also consider mentioning whether you accept credit cards, serve members of a legal insurance group or provide payment plans to clients.
What are your hours? If a client tries to call your office during non-business hours, it’s quite possible that he or she isn’t available to speak during the course of the work day. If you do offer evening or weekend appointments, it’s a great idea to highlight this information, showcasing that you are flexible and can meet the visitor’s needs. Along those same lines, it’s helpful to have an online appointment request for individuals who can’t call to schedule one during the business day.
What questions are you asked most often from prospective clients? Sit down with your office staff and ask them to list the questions that they’re asked most often by prospective clients. You’ll likely hear the following: “What happens during the first consultation? “ “How many years have you been practicing law?” “How long does the process usually take?” Once you’ve compiled your list, answer these questions on your website. This helpful information will allow you to connect with visitors immediately, and will likely save your staff a great deal of time responding to off-hour calls each morning.
Once you’ve created a site which is a real resource for prospective clients, be sure to update your voicemail or alert your virtual receptionist of the URL and what new visitors can expect to find online.