Failure to follow up initial client enquiries costing PI lawyers, finds First4Lawyers

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Personal injury law firms are missing out on significant amounts of business because of the way they handle incoming enquiries from potential clients, according to mystery shopping research by First4Lawyers.

Following up contacts was the most striking problem: where firms had to call back the mystery shopper, 23% of them did not do so for more than two days—or at all. By contrast, 35% called back within 15 minutes.

The research—conducted by customer experience specialist Insight6—saw mystery shoppers contact 50 personal injury firms both by telephone and through their websites, and rank their experience of the first contact and efforts to convert them into clients.

In the main, the mystery shoppers were happy with their interactions with law firms. Four in five found their overall treatment warm and engaging, and there were virtually no complaints about having to wade through jargon.

But what was lacking was a sense that the firm really wanted the work—asked whether they felt the firm attempted to add value or ‘go further’ for them, only 52% said yes. There was also evidence that many firms failed to ‘sell’ the value of using them to the caller and usually did not offer either to send further information or arrange to make a follow-up call.

Nonetheless, when asked to rate the likelihood of recommending the firm to others, on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being ‘definitely will recommend’), some 62% gave an 8, 9 or 10 (8% scored a perfect 10).

In 84% of web enquiries, the contact led to a telephone conversation, which is vital if solicitors are to convert them into clients, according to First4Lawyers.

The whitepaper outlining the results features case studies of various firms, including South Coast practice Warner Goodman. Solicitor Dan Thompson, business head of its injury team, described incoming enquiries as “the single most important call that comes into the office”. He added: “If you don’t treat that phone call with the respect it deserves, you might as well burn £5-600.”

Qamar Anwar, managing director of First4Lawyers, said: “It goes without saying that these are difficult times for personal injury lawyers. Low-value personal injury is an unusual market in that there is no real price competition. So, the quality of service, from the moment the phone rings or the email pings, is crucial. This is especially important given legal regulators’ efforts to encourage consumers to shop around for a lawyer.”

“The dynamics between lawyer and client are changing. Consumers are just one click away from seeing a competitor brand. Firms now need to be doing everything they can stand out from that competition.”

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Mark Dugdale is the editor of Claims Media. Mark welcomes articles, letters or feedback from readers and can be reached via mark.dugdale@barkerbrooks.co.uk