The internet allows potential clients to contact you via email, or your website, or even your blog. But lots of individuals want to talk to a real person when they are in distress. If you are a solo or small firm, answering the phone all day can interrupt other client meetings or working on another client’s legal matters.
Ideally, you have a staff person dedicated to answering the phone and doing client intake. In this economic climate, however, many attorneys are a one-person shop and doing everything. Here are some things to consider when deciding whether to pick up the phone or to return a voicemail.
Potential clients may have a list of attorneys to call. Whoever answers their call first will ultimately get the case. Many clients are not seeking a specific attorney, they are just seeking legal counsel. If you do not answer their call, another attorney will, and they will get the client.
Clients in your physical presence take priority. Yes, this is common sense, but some attorneys are so “next client” crazed, they will always answer the phone, no matter what. This sends the wrong signal to the client in your presence. They understand you need to make a living, but that should not distract you from the person in front of you.
Your voicemail should say when you get back to potential clients. If your voicemail says “we will return your phone call within 24 hours,” that might help if you cannot answer. At least the potential client knows when you should get back to them.
Returning Voicemails. Even if a potential client says on their message they have heard great things about you specifically, return the call as soon as possible. You might operate a niche practice, but you might have more competition than you realize.