6 Law Firm Intake Department Mistakes that Cost You Clients

If your law firm has an intake department do you know what they do? There are 6 law firm intake department mistakes that could be costing you new clients and cases. But how? 

The vast majority of law firms, regardless of their level of sophistication in other processes, still rely upon paper and not automation software when processing new prospective clients through their system. The following are six mistakes your intake department could be making that are hurting your profits when prospective clients contact the firm through email, telephone, or chat services:

  1. No step-by-step script of questions that thoroughly investigates each prospective client contact
  2. Handwritten paper contact forms hastily filled out by understaffed or underqualified intake personnel
  3. Forced multiple-duplicate recording of data by individual staff which leads to input errors, data omission, illegible or indecipherable handwritten input nobody else can read
  4. No central hub for all intake information. No real-time rapid sharing or visibility of the pipeline of potential clients’ data within the intake department and all other authorized parties
  5. No historical analytical data showing the number of cases entering the pipeline, ability to determine average number of leads per month, what channel the leads originate from, or what the pending status is of any particular lead at any time in the pipeline
  6. Losing loose paper tablets or small sticky notes containing client contact information resulting in failed follow up calls or follow up emails

6 Law Firm Intake Department Mistakes Your Firm Must Avoid at All Costs

  • Script of Questions

The most critical process that begins any intake and ultimately helps sell a prospective client on your law firm is a step-by-step script of questions.

The goal is to investigate each prospective client contact, establish their perceived needs, evaluate if their perceived needs translate to legal representation needs, and help determine if the prospective client is a fit for your firm or if they are someone you could help by referring them to a referral partner law firm.

  • Paper Contact Forms

There are two potential problems with paper contact forms. First, loose papers get lost – it’s a fact of business life and one that we see play out over and over again.

Second, and just as dangerous to your firms’ bottom line, is the scenario where an untrained, undertrained, or inattentive staffer hastily fills out the contact form. Often these forms are incomplete, lacking facts, or are not focused on the important information needed for the next step in the intake process.

  • Multiple, Duplicate Recording of Data

This problem is one of the leading causes of lost employee productivity and work hours. The scenario we see most often, and worth mentioning again due to its importance, is when individual staffers are forced to fill out information in multiple documents which leads to input errors, data omission, illegible/indecipherable handwritten input nobody else can read. The answer to this problem is a central database (hub) where everything can be recorded one time.

  • No Central Hub

As we outlined the problem of multiple duplicate recording of data, a centralized hub where all intake information is housed will eliminate the problem of duplicate recording of data. 

Because you can’t begin measuring or collecting data without this step its worth emphasizing that a law firm with no central hub means that there is no real-time rapid sharing or visibility of the pipeline of potential clients’ data within the intake department and all other authorized parties.

Confusion often ensues as papers go missing, incomplete notes leave out critical information, and potential clients are missed or never followed up with again.

  • No Historical Analytical Data

Possibly one of the most common problems for law firms trying to understand how and where they should spend their marketing dollars is not having historical analytical data that indicates what they have tried, when they tried it, the results of their attempts, and conclusions for those results.

Imagine your favorite sports team is interested in signing a new player but his/her statistics were lost, and the results of their play was not attributable to winning or losing for their former team. Your general manager would have to make a blind decision whether to sign the player or not.

The same could be said for a law firm because, without this historical intelligence, a firm is forced to guess where to spend their marketing budget and how much to spend. 

  • Losing Loose Papers

Data security is a huge issue, especially with the California Consumer Privacy Act going into place, when intake personnel use loose paper tablets or small sticky notes containing client contact information. These loose papers are easily lost resulting in failed follow up calls or follow up emails. And without a backup record, the information is lost, in most cases, forever or long enough to make it irrelevant.

Advantages of Intake Automation Software and New Processes

If your law firm is still in the paper age and you are experiencing lost profits due to antiquated processes, the following reasons should help you justify investing in an intake management software product.

Measurable and Historical Data Statistics: 4 Questions Your Firm Must Answer

The only way your law firm can gain the intelligence it takes to understand their intake performance is by analyzing the data you should be collecting. Can you answer the following questions?

  1. What marketing channel(s) are your leads originating?
  2. Are leads coming from more than one channel?
  3. What is your Intake closing rate where personnel are converting leads to new clients?
  4. What is the marketing acquisition cost for a case?

How Do I Know If Our Firm is Making 6 Law Firm Intake Department Mistakes?

We don’t like to answer questions with questions but it’s the fastest way to know where you stand. So how do you know if your firm is making the 6 law firm intake department mistakes outlined in this article? Answer these questions:

  • Do you know your case acquisition costs (CAC)?
  • Do you know your conversion rate optimization (CRO) aka a system for increasing the percentage of visitors to a website that convert into customers?
  • Do you know if your intake team or social media team is monitoring each marketing channel where prospective clients reach out with inquiries?
  • Is your intake team trained in intake best practices and are their support staff knowledgeable in these best practices?
  • Is there marketing analysis being done on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis?
  • Are marketing reports detailing each channel being distributed to key decision makers?
  • Is there an overarching multi-channel marketing plan?
  • Do you have a sales funnel with processes in place?
  • Do you know how many leads you have in the funnel at any one time?
  • Do you know your average response time to a prospect inquiry?
  • Can your marketing team, intake department, and principal decision makers access data and analytics for your marketing efforts at any time in real time?
  • Do you know which channel is producing the most leads and why?

There are more questions we could ask but I think you understand the idea. If the answer is “no” to many of these questions then it is safe to assume that your firm is making one, some, or all 6 of the intake department mistakes outlined here.

The only question left is “What are you going to do about it?” For a free consultation or a simple phone chat to get acquainted with us, please contact Inner Architect at (415) 485-6961 or Susan Hanshaw Managing Principal or Dean Guadagni Principal.