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The Value of Virtual Receptionists

by Ryan Anderson

on 10 May, 2019

How Virtual Receptionists and Intake Specialists are making law firms more agile, innovative, and profitable.

How are your legal intake and reception services? If you’re like most attorneys, they’re failing.

A recent ABA Benchmark Study found shockingly poor performance for most law firms. These firms are spending more money than ever to advertise their services and then ignoring the leads they generate.

The study found that 50% of all calls and filled-out web forms are not returned within two days. For anxious potential clients, that’s as good as not responding at all. 42% of calls remain unanswered after three days, and many never received a response.

They also found that 30% of all law firm callers never even speak to a person. They get a voicemail. 3% hang up before the message even starts; 11% more hang up before it finishes.

The study highlights one firm that greeted callers with a voicemail message that played on a loop, never giving callers the chance to leave a message. That firm was paying a hefty fee for Google Adwords just so interested callers could listen to their recorded message ad infinitum.

The study concluded: “Across the board, firms failed to deliver an outstanding first impression to potential clients.” The lackluster performance has consequences: the researchers determined that more than half of all online advertising investment is wasted.

Law firms are investing huge sums in marketing themselves and then flushing potential gains down the toilet by failing to engage with the callers they attract.

The legal reception industry is ready to move forward. But it’s not going to happen through hiring your own in-house phone answering army. Instead, we’re seeing the rapid growth of Virtual Reception Services. Lawyers are seeking call answering services to fill the sizable gaps left by their own staff.

Now Ringbird has entered the market. With expertise in the legal intake and full integration with Filevine, it’s head and shoulders above generalized virtual receptionist services.

Ringbird can make your firm more agile and deliver sizeable profits. It’s secret rests in the same principles that underlie our current information revolution.

What Legal Intake Can Learn from Netflix

Back in 2008, when Netflix was all about mailing DVDs, the company came to a stand-still. A database had a corruption issue. That meant for 3 days they couldn’t ship out their DVDs. Customers were irate.

Netflix could have just tidied up its current system and tried again. Instead, it set out to change everything. It moved to the cloud, signing on with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to help them scale their servers, storage, and compute power.

Over the next eight years, they did far more than iron out their DVD shipping issues. They changed their entire business model. They grew online streaming services exponentially — 1000X in those eight years. In the same time frame, they expanded to 130 new countries.

Without the support of AWS, rapid growth like that wouldn’t have been feasible. Netflix would have first needed a massive upfront investment in infrastructure and an army of technicians.

What does this story have to do with your law practice?

We’ve written in the past about the value offered by cloud-based case management software to rapidly develop and expand your practice. Like pre-2008 Netflix, many firms are clogged by bottlenecks and devastated by data loss. Moving to a service like Filevine opens up space to expand caseloads and improve case quality. With an affordable investment in the app, firms gain greater benefits — and face fewer risks — than they’d see with the large expense of building a system from scratch.

But these same principles of flexibility and growth can also change the game for legal intake and reception services. That’s where Ringbird comes in.

Here are six ways Ringbird is remaking legal reception and intake services:

1. Agile Scaling

Amazon built the foundation of AWS first to solve their own problems. Their business was constantly fluctuating (imagine a holiday-season deluge followed by a quiet January). They tried to predict ahead of time how much they’d need, but if they aimed too high, they wasted money, and if they aimed too low, they disappointed customers. On top of all that, growth was slowed by the need to bring on new machinery and staff.

As they developed their own infrastructure, they realized they could offer it as a service globally. That way companies could pay a subscription to them and cut out their own guesswork.

How could a similar agility-mindset affect your reception and intake services?

Traditionally, firms try to predict how many receptionists and intake professionals they need. If they under-provision, their employees are harried and their clients suffer. Sadly, this is the status quo for the legal industry, as revealed by the ABA Benchmark Study.

But firms can also make the mistake of over-provisioning. If they want to ensure that every call is answered, they have to hire (and train and regularly pay) receptionists who spend most of the day bored and only mobilize for the occasional rush hour of calls.

Instead of making you predict your exact reception needs, Ringbird brings agility to your firm. They take on the upfront burden of hiring, training, and outfitting legal intake professionals. Then at any point where your firm is under-provisioned (whether it’s because you’ve received too many calls at once or someone is calling in the middle of the night), they can instantly spring into action.

Ringbird is fanatically committed to a ‘pay only for what you use’ model. They charge only for the exact seconds they spend speaking with your clients or potential clients, not rounding up the nearest minute as other answering services do.

2. Customized Services

AWS customers have the power to build their own online system. Similarly, Ringbird clients can dictate the reception services that are right for them.

Ringbird is customizable in two senses. The first deals with how much of their services are needed and when they are used. Ringbird can replace your need for a phone-answering staff member, or swoop in with an occasional patch when needed. They can answer calls all day long, come on only during peak seasons, or just help out when you want to shut down the office early or go take a long lunch.

Secondly, Ringbird will customize to the needs and culture of your firm. They engage empathetically with clients, with skills that include full Spanish fluency. And they will deliver information to you in a manner that syncs with your workflow.

For Filevine users, this means adding new contacts, tasks, notes, and appointments directly into the firm’s case management system. All call information is captured and securely transferred, without redundant entry. Firm members hit the ground running, with relevant tasks and appointments already plugged in.

The result is seamless conjunction of the firm and the outsourced service. Clients experience a cohesive onboarding system, rather than feeling they’re being passed around and forced to repeat themselves.

3. Low Upfront Investment Means Reduced Risks

As the Netflix story shows, subscribing to outside services can enable rapid growth. Instead of needing to build each bit of their own storage and server system from scratch, they could focus on their big ideas and run with them.

Similarly, if your firm is growing now, you might not have the time to hire on and train the right receptionist. But Virtual Reception Services like Ringbird can deploy rapidly, at a low subscription cost.

A low upfront investment also means lower risks. In the traditional legal staffing model, a failed growth plan is doubly painful. It signals a useless investment in higher staffing. At its worst, those who have perhaps already made big financial decisions in the belief their position was permanent, have to be quickly dismissed.

With such risks, conscientious decision-makers might choose to stick with business as usual. But that can present its own risk, as more ambitious competitors erode your clientele. Such firms might wind up with layoffs all the same.

Ringbird removes this risk. This is particularly crucial when launching a new marketing campaign, bringing on another attorney, or expanding into a new practice area. Ringbird’s Virtual Receptionists instantly scale up or down alongside your call volume, removing the need to guess your firm’s growth levels beforehand.

4. The economy of Scale Benefits

While you’re running a law practice, Ringbird can make its entire focus providing the best quality of legal intake and client reception services. Virtual Receptionists can share the workspace, training resources, and technology they need. While callers to one law firm have stopped, receptionists can answer calls for a different firm that’s more active.

This system is clearly more cost-efficient than each firm scaling up its traditional legal receptionist and intake services. The traditional system requires hiring and training a new employee (including training them to use your case management software); paying them, even during the slow time; and fitting them with space and tools they need. It’s a bulky, inefficient solution compared with Ringbird.

5. Profiting from Ringbird

How much can Ringbird save you? Here are a few areas to consider:

  1. Staffing costs. The average legal receptionist earns between $30,000 – $40,000 a year. Instead of bringing on an additional receptionist or demanding more time from your current one, Ringbird can field the extra calls.
  2. Save on time. Instead of focusing on each detail of your intake and reception needs, you can depend on Ringbird’s legal intake and receptionist professionals to get the job done. Estimate the time this process would take you, and multiply it by your hourly rate. For Filevine users, even more, time is saved. Ringbird ends redundancy in intake processes. That saves users up to 14 minutes per call.
  3. Add in the opportunity costs: without simple Virtual Receptionist and Legal Intake Services, you and your staff are tied to the office phone. You’re less likely to attend a conference or take a well-deserved vacation.
  4. And most importantly, Ringbird can retain the lost clientele revealed in the ABA Benchmark Study. Poor response rates meant a loss of half of all potential clients. In addition to the revenues those clients may have brought, that’s a waste of half of all marketing spending. Knowledgeable and ever-ready Virtual Receptionists stop the waste. Firms can use these savings to grow their caseloads and focus on higher-quality casework.

6. Renew Your Focus

Businesses like AWS because it lets them focus on their business, instead of the details behind the online infrastructure. Ringbird does the same for legal intake and receptionist services. Attorneys rarely went into their profession hoping they’d one day get to walk new hires through an employee handbook. They want to serve clients, build a rewarding practice, and create a lasting impact.

Ringbird brings lawyers that peace of mind. Maybe that’s why the service has grown 95% in the last six months alone, signaling that the future of legal reception services has already arrived.

But what about the future of your law firm?

To learn more about everything Ringbird can do for your team, visit www.getringbird.com and request a demo.