Who Answers Your Phone?

Who's calling please?

Try this experiment.

Set up your video camera on your receptionist who answers your phone. Don’t tell her. Let the video record about an hour. Play it back in the evening while you’re decompressing after a long day. Pay attention to how the phone is answered, what is said and importantly how it’s said.

The person who answers your phone is the face of your law firm. Literally. That person (or persons) is the front line of who you are. If you have not properly trained this receptionist and are simply leaving it to chance that you will get a great encounter, you’re missing a key understanding of what they do.

A receptionist is more than just a live answering machine. A receptionist develops relationships with your clients. She (or he) greets them when they walk into the office. A savvy receptionist will get to know all the deliverymen, UPS, Fedex, etc.

When a potential client calls your office, you need to make them feel special. You need to make them feel like their case is the only one in the world for you. You need to give them a great initial phone experience.

Tell me if this conversation, which happened to me today, gives you that wow feeling:

Scene: [Gerry calling doctor's office]

Action: Waiting 30 seconds for someone to pick up. Finally, a harried sounding elderly woman answers and says curtly, “Hello. Please hold on…” [I am put on hold for 6 minutes. No music, no time announced to wait. Nothing. I hang up, knowing I have better things to do.]

Action: [Redialing doctor's office 30 minutes later]

Same woman answers after 45 seconds of phone ringing and simply says “Can you hold?

“No I can’t. I was waiting 6 minutes before and nobody picked up,” I reply.

“Is this an emergency?” she asks in a frustrated tone as if I’m bothering her.

“No,” I reply.

“Well, I’ll connect you to the assistant’s voicemail,” she says.

“No. The doctor specifically told me to call back and leave this message for him.”

[Hmph she mutters.] “Ok,” sounding dejected that she actually has to write a message and hand it to someone. “What’s the message?”

I tell her the message, which took no more than 10 seconds to relay to her and she simply said “Fine,” and hung up.

Does that conversation make you feel all warm and fuzzy?

Not me. I thought I was imagining it. So, I asked my 9 year old who was in the car with me and heard everything on speakerphone, what he thought.

He said “She should be fired or re-trained.” I agreed.

I wonder…do you think I should tell my doctor about this interaction and how it’s affecting his business?

Imagine if I were a new patient. The receptionist’s actions reflect 100% upon the doctor. Is this the impression you want to give your new potential clients?

Listen in to your receptionist and make sure they’re not making the same mistakes I just told you about.


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I was on vacation in Fort Lauderdale and shot a spot. I used a Dslr and a digital tascam, I am reviewing Gerry's course. New years' resolution: get busy! I recommend Gerry to everyone. Doing it yourself is very time consuming. I just got a call, the caller is from Texas and he chose me because he felt like he knew me. I have just scratched the surface, cheers Gerry, happy new year, you are inspirational.

Joel Denning