This is the third in a series on client intake. I will focus on some of the reasons why it makes business sense for a law firm to develop and use a client intake system as well as how a practice management system can help make the whole process much easier.
Earlier this week I wrote about defining a process and information gathering. Related to both of these topics is how you handle phone inquiries. In a sense, this is pre-intake information. However, it really is the beginning of the file intake process – at least you hope so. Much of the information you want to collect gets asked verbally during the initial phone inquiry. Are you capturing it?
Here are some thoughts on phone inquiries (or any sort of initial inquiry for that matter). First, you need someplace to record all of the vital information. A simple way to record and track this type of information is in a spreadsheet or database but a practice management system makes it even easier. Second, you need to make the process easy so that people can do it quickly and not consider it as more of a time waster than a time saver. A simple form that everyone can access from their desktop is great. Third, you need a way to efficiently distribute the inquiries to the proper person and each person needs to know how to process the inquiries. This gets tricky in a home grown system using spreadsheets because the file may need to be updated by several people at the same time.
Once again, all of these steps are easier with a practice management system. Time Matters, for example, allows you to customize phone call forms, deliver an instant message to the appropriate attorney and provides a place for each attorney to organize and process their calls. Both PracticeMaster and PCLaw have a phone call form that allows you to record critical information about your calls. If you use one of those products, find the phone call feature and give it a try.
On April 15, 2010, I had the pleasure to do a nationally broadcast webinar entitled Best Practices: Client Intake. The webinar was sponsored by LexisNexis and a recording of the webinar will most likely be made available on the Legal Business Community site. Try searching the recording there as I do not have a link as I write this post. I also invite you to download a white paper from my website describing how to apply some of these client intake methods in Time Matters. That white paper can be found at http://www.krausepm.com/resources/documents/ClientIntakewithTimeMatters.pdf.client intake, Law Practice Management, PCLaw, practicemaster, Time Matters