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UK law firms leave clients waiting

Take longer than other businesses to respond to phone calls 

19 April 2013

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By Manju Manglani, Editor (@ManjuManglani)

Clients who call UK law firms can expect to wait nearly ten seconds longer than average before their phone call is answered.

That’s according to a PH Media Group survey of 3,630 businesses, which included 101 small to medium-sized law firms.

It found that callers to law firms are put on hold for an average of 42.22 seconds, compared to the UK average of 33.48 seconds.

Of all callers forced to wait for attention, 34 per cent said there was silence on the other end of the line while they were on hold. A further 26 per cent were made to listen to music, while 26 per cent said they heard beeps.

“These results represent a significant challenge for the legal services industry and could pose a serious threat to profitability,” said Mark Williamson, director at PH Media Group.

“Callers are simply unwilling to wait on the end of the line while subjected to silence, muzak or beeps, so firms are putting themselves at serious risk of losing business.

“Good call handling is often overlooked as a key sales and marketing tool, but the telephone still acts as an important touchpoint and first impressions count. If each caller enjoys a positive experience, customer service standards will go through the roof.”

Law firms also scored low when it came to overall call handling practice, averaging at just 33 points out of 100.

Elements including the time taken to answer a call, the number of tiers a caller experiences before reaching the necessary department, use of consistent voice and music, professional and personalised voicemail and out-of-hours messaging were weighted to reflect their importance.

“Legal firms strive to present a professional, trustworthy image so it is important to evaluate all aspects of call handling to ensure customers get the right impression,” added Williamson.

“Inevitably, not every call will be answered within a matter of seconds, so when callers do need to be placed on hold for any length of time, informative and entertaining audio messages can help to maintain their attention and decrease perceived waiting time.

“Brand congruent voice and music are also vital in order to present customers with a consistent image of the company, reinforcing brand values and establishing a reassuring, coherent presence.”

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