Attorneys and law firms are too busy to answer every call. But how do you respond to current and potential clients who need information about their cases?
Not every law firm has the resources to hire a full-time receptionist; at the same time, the rise of virtual law practices has increased the difficulty of finding a professional to handle your phone lines. Nonetheless, clients not only expect you to answer the phone but also expect a positive experience when you do. Anything less could damage your reputation and drive business away.
What Are the Benefits of an Answering Service?
That’s where legal answering services, also known as virtual receptionists, come into play. By engaging an industry-specific answering service, law firms can outsource their incoming phone calls but still help clients and prospects get the information they need.
Some of the most important benefits of working with a virtual receptionist include:
- 24/7 availability to answer basic client questions and schedule appointments.
- Potential clients can engage with your law firm even when everyone in the office is in court or traveling.
- Potential costs savings by not having to hire a full-time receptionist.
- Higher-quality client satisfaction, thanks to working with professionals trained in customer service.
- Increased work productivity, thanks to the ability to focus on tasks not related to scheduling or phone calls.
Lawyers looking to engage with this type of service have to find the right partner to handle their phone calls and optimize their client experience. How do they do that when there are hundreds of options available?
This guide will highlight some of the best options based on their unique offerings and pricing. Let’s dive in.
Ranking the 5 Best Answering Services for Lawyers
Let’s examine those details for the 5 top answering services in the legal industry using sources like Clutch, an independent third-party website focused on client reviews.
LEX Reception is the top-ranked service for law firms thanks to its ability to combine 24/7 availability with a personalized, small business approach. Instead of relying on volume, the company has its own full-time call center staff to support its law firm partners.
The result is a more customized service than most other legal answering services can offer. Call center services make up about 50% of LEX’s business, with the other revenue streams coming from back-office and customer service offerings.
Law firms receive both call answering and a live chat option, all with straightforward onboarding and the ability to respond to inquiries in both English and Spanish.
The small business nature of this service, of course, also comes with some minor drawbacks.
The call analytics are not as strong as they are for some larger competitors, and most services are priced for moderate volume. In other words, it’s not the perfect choice for large law firms but makes perfect sense for single lawyers and small firms.
Cost: Starts at $300 per month for 150 minutes of service, with custom plans allowing for more minutes at higher prices.
One of the biggest draws of Legal Conversion Center is its experience. It was one of the first call centers to offer contract acquisition services to law firms. The principals at LLC have worked with hundreds of law firms around the U.S. and boast more than 100 years of combined call-center experience. This experience is evident in the approach the company takes to training.
LCC employs a team of highly-trained intake specialists to help convert potential clients into consultations and cases. In fact, its only goal is to create “quality conversions.” Its diverse offerings include everything from new client intake and contract acquisition services to case management integration and web response.
LCC’s intake professionals receive empathy training, sales training, and more to handle client inquiries with professionalism and care.
It also employs a quality assurance team to grade calls based on vocal tone, empathy, grammar, intake accuracy, and other metrics — all in an effort to provide a higher-quality intake experience for clients.
Cost: LCC charges for talk-time only; It offers flat rate per-minute fees or a flat rate per lead charge, depending on your needs. It doesn’t charge for minute-based packages, patch through minutes, agent work time, etc.
Like other receptionist services, Smith.ai deploys a team of North America-based legal receptionists to help small and boutique law firms engage with and respond to client inquiries. The result is 24/7 availability on a wide range of channels including phone, text, chat, and even social media messaging.
What sets Smith.ai apart from other services on this list is the ability to screen potential clients based on the criteria you have provided. That takes out an entire step in which the law firm would need to quality-control clients before setting up a meeting.
Other more unique services compared to other receptionist services include:
- Scheduling appointments on your law firm’s calendar
- Make outbound calls to potential clients to drive them to conversion.
- Set up calling priorities based on phone numbers, so that different inbound calls can be managed in different ways.
Smith.ai can also take payments on your behalf to round out the client experience. However, the setup for these services can be complex, and because the company also serves other industry verticals, not everything about it is optimized for law firms.
Cost: Starts at $240 per month for 30 monthly calls, ranging to $750 for 150 calls, as well as custom plans that tailor to your anticipated call volume.
You might have heard of Ruby (formerly known as Ruby Receptionists), one of the most popular answering services in the legal industry. They’ve made their name because of exceptional customer service, relying largely on reviews and word-of-mouth marketing from the small and medium-sized firms they work with.
Of course, that reputation comes for a reason. Ruby’s 24/7 availability is strengthened with a mobile app, a unique feature in the legal receptionist field. Through the app, law firms can set up their availability and away times, review their incoming call logs, and even place outbound calls using the business phone number.
Aside from the app, Ruby offers a relatively hands-off service in which you receive a business phone number from them, provide them with scripts, and they’ll handle the rest. This hands-off approach can be beneficial for small firms unable to handle the day-to-day but might be a problem if you prefer to stay close with inbound calls and messages.
Cost: Starts at $349/month 100 minutes in which a receptionist engages a client, going up to $1,499/month for 1,500 minutes and custom charges for minutes beyond your plan.
Behind its playful name is a powerful receptionist service. Back Office Betties works much like Ruby, with a custom phone number you can transfer to other phones as needed. In addition to managing inbound calls, engaging with the Betties also means being able to outsource scheduling appointments, processing payments, and making outbound calls. They can even create estimates for clients and manage your calendar on your behalf.
Like many other receptionist services, Back Office Betties has bilingual professionals that can answer phone calls from Spanish-speaking callers. You’ll also get a live chat option to live on your website for clients who prefer typing over calling. And, unlike most of the services on this list, you get a free trial before you have to commit to it.
Calls between Back Office Betties and potential or current clients can be recorded, but quantitative call analytics are not available. The service’s scope also does not include 24/7 availability as many others do.
Cost: Starts at $299 per month for 100 call minutes, ranging to $1,299 per month for 500 call minutes. You can also expect one-time fees for training, appointment scheduling, and payment processing.
Tips and Considerations When Looking for a Legal Virtual Receptionist
Even once you’ve identified a few answering services, it can be hard to narrow your list down to just one. These tips can help you find the perfect answering service for your needs:
- Understand the pricing structure. Most services charge by the minute, but some charge by call – which might be more beneficial if your legal niche requires longer average conversations.
- Ask about security measures. Receptionist services need to follow privacy laws and keep their client information secure. Answering services that encrypt communications understand that need.
- Find the right software integrations. Most, if not all, answering services integrate with popular legal calendars, client services, and other software. Finding a service that integrates with the platforms you already use can save significant time and effort.
- Fill in the gaps in your existing structure. The specific features and services offered by these options differ significantly. Consider conducting a needs analysis so you know what types of services are most beneficial to your daily operations before finding a partner that can help to solve them.
- Look for customer satisfaction ratings. Even after you’ve signed a contract, the evaluation of your partner shouldn’t stop. Ask your clients how their calling or chat experience was so you can evaluate whether they are getting the client service they deserve.
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