Most law practices focus on delivering great service to their clients. The challenge with this approach is that it focuses on just one aspect of a broader concept: the client experience. Great service is a must, but the client experience extends broadly to each and every interaction that not only clients but also prospects have with your business. And it all starts with intake. Active, engaged intake facilitates the conversion of opportunities into clients. How you manage your intake process will either make or break the relationship with your leads. No matter how the prospective client has reached your business – whether through live chat, an inbound call, a referral, or another form of outreach – it’s important to establish your business as a helpful resource to prospective clients. The Role of the Intake Team “If everything goes right, we get a good experience. If everything goes wrong, we get a good story.” – Simon Sinek, author “Start with Why” Mom and Dad (and maybe a television commercial) were right – you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. It’s the initial experience that sets the tone for the future attorney/client relationship. Whether you are handling all of the intake personally or you have an intake person or team, this touchpoint will be the first direct contact most prospects have with your firm. Cultivating a friendly, helpful relationship with your potential clients shows them you are working with their benefit in mind. When selecting employees to handle client intake, make sure you choose team members who can represent your firm in the best possible light. Develop an intake plan that achieves objectives and identifies the desired prospect profile. Build and follow a standardized list of questions to gather data, making allowances for prospects with special or complicated circumstances (life is rarely a “one size fits all” situation). Training them to engage in active listening during the intake process will save your team time, effort and frustration further down the sales process. Even if intake is not part of an employee’s day-to-day activities, ensuring everyone on your team is familiar with the intake process helps them deliver a positive experience to potential clients and sets the stage for an ongoing, beneficial relationship. Use Intake to Set Expectations Understanding and taking note of your potential clients’ situations will help you understand if you can move forward with them professionally. Through the intake process, your team should also be on the lookout for how serious the prospect is about retaining your services. In addition to determining how viable a lead is, your intake team can set some basic expectations and give a clear idea of what your business may be able to accomplish, as well as set clear boundaries for limitations. Intake is a great way to introduce information like consultation fees, payment plans, and other practicalities that the client should know at the outset. Adjust Your Intake Method to Fit the Opportunity Because opportunities can come from a variety of places, it’s worth considering how your business will perform intake for each scenario, including:
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