Alexis just wrote a great post on why lawyers should avoid answering the phone. In the past year, I have gone from always answering the phone, to letting voice mail screen the calls, to having our virtual assistant answer the calls. So what is the best way to go?
Why you should answer your phone
When I first started, I was not only in charge of answering the phone, I thought it was imperative to answer every call for fear that potential clients would go elsewhere. I have absolutely no doubt that people appreciated talking to me right away, and that if they decided to hire someone, they ended up hiring us.
Depending on your client base, they might not be used to actually getting a lawyer on the phone. The fact that they are talking to a lawyer can help you quickly establish a rapport with them.
Why voice mail works better
When I was always answering the phone, I dealt with a lot of frantic individuals who wanted immediate answers to their pressing legal needs. In other words, they wanted a free legal ER. Even if it was a situation we could help with, the majority of these clients did not want to hire an attorney.
For the most part, individuals who left voice mails wanted to hire us because of our expertise in consumer rights. They had either been referred to us, or had done their research and realized we could help them.
Why having someone else answering the phone works best
One, someone is always answering the calls—so any individuals who are put off by having to leave a message should be pleased that they get to talk to a live person. Two, it is helpful to have someone take down the details, and explain to the client that they will pass on the info to an attorney and someone will get back to them.
Three, it saves you time. For every ten-minute phone call that results in an actual client, there are probably ten that result in a non-client. To an extent, that is an unavoidable problem. But if you can afford hiring someone to answer your phone, you can hopefully save yourself time, while still retaining potential clients.