Why You Should Optimize Your Firm’s Client Intake Process

Published on February 18, 2021
6 minute read
<a href='https://www.lawmatics.com/blog/author/erica/'>Erica Berghan</a>
Written by Erica Berghan

The client intake process is a critical part of running your law firm. Think of the intake process as a waiter showing the menu to a dinner guest. If presented carelessly, the guest may only order a starter and ask for the check. Or worse, leave altogether and grab a burrito to-go down the street.

However, if done the right way, your guest will order a five-course meal, a bottle of your finest Cabernet, and come back for repeat business.

It’s all about following the right steps to convert a prospect into a paying client.

Despite its importance for turning leads into clients, a poorly executed legal intake process is more common than you might think. Many law firms fail to optimize the client experience throughout the intake process, and as a result, have low conversion rates.

In order to improve client satisfaction and boost your firm’s revenue, a solid intake process is essential.

So, what exactly happens in an effective “client intake process?”

What an optimized client intake process looks like

1 A lead gets acquired

The client intake process begins the moment a lead expresses interest in your firm. In some scenarios, a potential new client will come to your website as a result of a client referral, website traffic, or via an advertising campaign. They’ll often fill out a contact form on your law firm’s website asking for information. If they fill out a client intake form, they’ll be asked to provide their contact details and a summary of the services they’re inquiring about.

In other cases, a client may call your firm directly, hoping to gather the information they need. If they’re lucky, someone will answer, they’ll take their information down and answer any questions about whether the firm is the right fit. The less than lucky ones will reach voicemail.

This is the moment a lot of law firms get it wrong. Studies show that one of the most common complaints about law firms is poor client communication. A receptionist may write down a potential client’s information on a Post-it for someone to follow up with “later.” Maybe it even gets entered into a spreadsheet that gets looked at once in a while. Or worse, maybe whoever answered the phone gets distracted on another call, and the lead is forgotten altogether. The result is a poor reputation for your law firm and lost revenue.

To eliminate the risk of leads getting lost, it’s essential to optimize your lead management process with a legal CRM. A proper customer relationship management tool will ensure that your lead’s information is recorded correctly with an effective questionnaire experience.

Rather than losing your potential client’s interest with unnecessary questions that may cause them to click away, you can customize a beautiful and complex questionnaire with only the questions you need to ask.

A law firm software like Lawmatics makes it easy to control when certain fields are visible to whoever is filling it out by building custom forms.

Easily ask the questions you need to ask with the style you want to ensure you get the information you need, all with the power of a robust client intake software.

2 The lead is nurtured

Once you’ve captured your potential client’s information, a legal CRM inputs the information into a centralized database where the client journey is meticulously tracked. Since it’s critical to strike while it’s hot to avoid them slipping through the cracks, they’ll need to be followed up with as soon as possible.

But let’s be frank about it, getting back to a lead right away isn’t always convenient when you’ve got a law firm to run. Following up with potential clients when you’ve got paying clients to do work for can seem like less of a priority.

Results from a recent study show that a startling majority of law firms deliver disappointing follow-ups. Leads in the study reported that only 40% of law firms responded to emails, and a whopping 70% of them were considered unsatisfactory.

When it came to phone calls, just over half were answered, and the rest were answered by voicemail. Over half of the law firms took over 72 hours to respond to voicemails.

First impressions are critical for client conversion, so it goes without saying that unsatisfactory follow-ups are a missed opportunity.

With a legal CRM, you never have to worry about losing time on billable work to get back to a lead. An effective legal software like Lawmatics will send an automated email to the client immediately to keep them engaged.

Custom fields make it possible to tailor automated emails to the client’s specific needs and contact information for a more personalized greeting. A lead is then given an invitation to take the next steps in becoming a client with your law firm.

3 A consultation gets scheduled

When a lead gains your trust, the next step to turning them into a paying client is scheduling a consultation. It’s an opportunity to learn what your client needs, pitch why you’re the best choice, and ultimately win their business.

Converting leads into customers is a tricky process in any industry. When running a law practice, you must have a good strategy in place for setting these consultation appointments. If handled poorly, people show up late or don’t show at all, costing your law firm time and money lost.

An example of an ineffective scheduling process is going back and forth in emails, trying to find the best time that works for everyone. As a busy lawyer, you have more important matters to focus on than email-tag. CRM software takes the hassle out of appointment setting so you can focus your energy on revenue-producing work rather than menial administrative tasks.

The right legal calendaring software sends an email to your client linking to a calendar with your availability. By syncing your Outlook or Google calendar to your CRM calendar, leads will see only the time slots you want them to see. They can choose an appointment time that works for them all with a few clicks. You’re one step closer to converting them into a client.

4 Everyone receives reminders

Recent studies show that the rate of client no-shows has risen 5% since early August 2020. Because of this higher missed appointment rate, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of reminding clients about their appointments.

This reminder should come in two stages.

Stage one

As soon as the appointment is booked, a client receives an email confirming the appointment. It should include all of the necessary information- from your contact information to your law firm’s address and any important details like access codes.

Think about including relevant information about your law firm in the email to warm clients up. Plugging in client testimonials and educational resources builds a sense of trust with your lead and boost your chances of gaining their business.

Stage two

The day before or several hours leading up to the consultation with your potential client, they should receive an email reminder. While some firms leave this step to an office administrator, a CRM can automate the reminder for you, saving your firm money on tasks you’d be paying staff to do.

5 Secure the client

Assuming the consultation goes as planned, you’ll verbally secure the client’s business. In order to finalize the attorney-client relationship, you’ll need them to sign the paperwork and agreements.

As any lawyer knows, drafting up contracts is a lengthy process that takes time to ensure there are no errors. To streamline the process and eliminate the risk of errors, you can use automation software like Lawmatics.

Lawmatics does the tedious work for you, so you can sweep through creating the documents with ease.

Document templates can easily be filled with data imported from fields in your legal CRM coupled with easy e-signatures. You can seamlessly input information using a template, eliminating unnecessary fields, saving you and your client time. No more risks of missing critical steps or time lost on tedious tasks.

Technology makes it simple to onboard your client by making it easy for them to send you whatever you need from the palm of their hand. By clicking a link from their mobile phones or laptop, they can effortlessly download and email documents back without having to bother with printers or scanners.

In short, what could have taken hours or even days happens in a matter of seconds, all thanks to an effective client intake process.

Optimize your firm’s client intake process with a complete CRM like Lawmatics

Specifically designed for law firms, Lawmatics streamlines each step of the client intake process all the way to the legal onboarding process. Built on a cloud-based platform, it’s easy to access whatever you need from anywhere at any time.

No more worrying about leads slipping through the cracks or losing clients’ trust due to lack of follow-ups. Easily view each stage of your client’s journeys, so you know who needs to be contacted when.

Your law firm can customize each stage as you see fit for your practice, delivering optimal customer satisfaction and ultimately boosting your revenue by optimizing your intake and client onboarding process.

Erica Berghan

Erica is a writer by day and mom by afternoon, evening, way too early in the morning, and middle of the night. When not writing or “momming,” you can find her enjoying the outdoors, shamelessly watching reality television, or publishing Instagram stories of her cat and dog.
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