As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, leading outsourced communications provider, Moneypenny, is encouraging law firms to prepare for a dramatic and sustained spike in new enquiry volumes.
Latest figures from the company – which handles more than 2 million legal calls and live chats each year for more than 1,000 legal firms in the UK – show that during the first lockdown (26 March - 1 June 2020), telephone enquiries fell by 36% compared with pre lockdown figures.
However, in the weeks that followed, there was sustained demand higher than the yearly average. In the seven weeks after the first lockdown, telephone enquiry levels were 27% up on pre lockdown levels – a 35% increase on the same period in 2019.
While it’s not surprising that lockdown created pent up demand – particularly when you consider that the housing market was frozen during the first lockdown – it’s extremely encouraging to see that appetite for legal services continued for a sustained period.
During the first lockdown, we also found that 65% of legal live chats generated leads for new client instructions, a 30% rise on the typical average – confirmation that consumers were seeking more support and guidance and were happy to use digital communications channels to do so, often outside traditional office hours.
Interestingly, during the second lockdown (4 November to 2 December), there was no change in telephone demand compared with the week before lockdown, which suggests both legal professionals and consumers were adapting to the new normal and it was ‘business as usual’ for the sector.
Over the last 12 months, the pressure has been on law firms and their marketing teams to ensure that experience is the same, whether the team is in the office or working remotely. By now, clients expect service levels to be back to, if not better than, normal and firms are recognising the importance of living up to this – particularly if service was neglected last year under the stress of simply remaining operational.
Now that the Prime Minister’s Roadmap out of lockdown is underway and an extension of the stamp duty holiday is confirmed, lawyers are likely to be busy over the coming months. Being able to meet predicted demand and answer a significantly increased volume of telephone calls is critical to the sector’s ongoing success.
With the government continuing to advise that people work from home, face-to-face meetings remain off the agenda, so the phone and live chat will remain the first port of call for clients and prospects. Firms should use the coming weeks to prepare and make sure they have the necessary resource and support in place to meet demand.
Five tips for getting prepared
1. Make a plan – start by regrouping with your wider team, understanding their challenges and devising a strategy that delivers a solution.
2. Extend availability – take into account that client communication habits have changed and firms need to be available outside of the traditional 9-5. Outsourced telephone answering and live chat solutions ensure that enquiries can be answered around the clock, without putting extra pressure on staff.
3. Be proactive – as well as putting measures in place to handle inbound communications, consider investing in outbound support to follow-up with enquiries and qualify leads before they’re passed on to team members – another way of boosting productivity.
4. Supercharge your web presence – live chat technology generates six times more website engagement and encourages visitors who wouldn’t otherwise take the time to email or call, to engage with you and reduces the risk of them taking valuable potential business elsewhere.
5. Transform your front of house – office doors are open again and it’s vital to adapt your reception and front of house provision to ensure you meet changing demands and create positive lasting impressions.
For more information about how your firm could benefit from Moneypenny’s telephone answering, live chat or outbound calling services, visit www.moneypenny.com/uk/legal-answering-services/