The wrong answering service can end up costing you in the long run.

If the first voice a potential client hears from your firm is disinterested or unhelpful, they will most likely search elsewhere for legal assistance. In this case, you’ll have essentially marketed for your competition.

So, how can you tell if you need a new legal call center? Best-in-class legal answering services possess the five features listed below. If your service provider is lacking any of these, it might be time for an upgrade.

1. Specialized Legal Intake Training

Most call center agents have generalized training that applies to many industries, not just legal. That may be good for the call center’s business model, but it’s not ideal for your law firm.

Best-in-class legal intake specialists are trained specifically to use proper legal terminology. They also receive instruction on how to provide the right level of empathy while keeping control of each call. Many potential legal cases involve sensitive, and oftentimes emotional, situations. Callers need to be assured they have contacted a firm that will be supportive and provide relief. At the same time, the intake specialist must have the ability to collect the information needed to determine if the lead is qualified or not.

2. Legal Intake Beyond the Phone

Potential clients are likely to contact your firm using the method most convenient for them, which may be a web submission form or email.

While you need to have intake specialists answering phone calls around the clock, you must also have professionals who are skilled at following up with and converting other types of leads.

If your firm only performs intake via inbound phone calls (and ignores the web forms and email address set up on your website), you could miss out on tens of thousands of dollars in lost opportunities.

3. Dedicated Client Services Team

It is essential to partner with a legal call center with a dedicated service team that will help your law office get answers and technical assistance – whenever you need it. This team should continually check in to ensure everything is running smoothly.

The right support team will help you increase your conversions by tailoring the intake process to your firm’s needs.

4. Potential Conversion on the First Call

In some cases, legal intake specialists can skillfully take a lead from first contact to an e-signed retainer in a single phone call. Before the client even speaks to an attorney, they are qualified, converted and ready to proceed with your firm.

Converting on the first call, when possible, results in lower lead loss rates. This step prevents leads from shopping for other firms while they wait to figure out the next steps with yours.

When leads aren’t able to convert on the first call, best-in-class legal call centers use tried-and-true outbound techniques to stay in touch and convert at a later time.

5. Collaboration with Your Marketing Team or Agency

Marketing agencies love it when legal firms are partnered with a competent and effective client intake service. This partnership increases the amount of leads that are captured and converted, boosting your law firm’s ROI and in turn improving client retention and reputation for the marketing firm.

For the best results, your law firm should work closely with both your marketing agency (or internal team) and the answering service. Without this close, three-way collaboration, you are much less likely to optimize your marketing and answering service investments.

Finding the Best Legal Answering Service

If your current answering service falls short on any one of these five key features, you’re likely not getting the best bang for your buck.

You might pay more upfront to hire a top-notch service, but your return on investment month-over-month and year-over-year will ultimately grow when you team up with a quality legal answering service.

Want to know more about improving your client intake? Download our special report, “6 Technologies/Tools Every Law Firm Needs to Elevate Their Client Intake.”