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9 Basic Rules for Answering the Phone

These are the 9 basic rules at our law firm for answering the phone.  We laminate our rules and ask that our receptionist keep them facing her at her desk.  These rules are a constant reminder of how we expect our receptionist to answer the phone and deal with our clients.  If you do not have simple rules for answering the phone, your receptionist will create her own rules…and you might not like what you hear.

                                                Treat Your Clients as Invited Guests to a Party

We see our clients as invited guests to a party and we are the hosts.  It’s our job every day to make every part of our clients’ experience a little better.

Rule #1:  Answer the Phone in 3 Rings

Why it’s done this way: If it takes more than 3 rings to answer the phone, the caller will hang up and call the next lawyer.

Rule #2:    Greet the Caller

Example:  “Thank you for calling the law firm of John H. Fisher, P.C. How can I help you?”

Why it’s done this way: You are doing 2 things at the moment you answer the phone: #1: you are showing appreciation for the phone call and #2: you are extending an offer to help the caller.  You should always answer the caller this way.

Rule#3:  Use the Caller’s Name

Example:  “Thank you, Mary, for calling us…Mary, do you have any other questions?”

Why it’s done this way: Everyone loves the sound of his or her name.  You should use the caller’s name at the beginning of the phone call, at the end of the phone call and as often as you can during the call.

Rule #4:  Be Empathetic

Example: In a death case, “I am very sorry for your loss.”  In injury cases, you might express compassion by saying: “I am very sorry to hear this. We’ll do our best to help you.”

Why it’s done this way:  We are not just another cold, faceless injury law firm.  We care about our clients and our commitment to caring should be conveyed as soon as you learn about the caller’s loss (especially in death cases).

Rule #5:    Smile!

Example:  Put a mirror next on your desk and look at the mirror every time you answer the phone.  Try to make sure you smile every time you answer the phone.  Yes, this is strange at first, but this almost forces you to be in a positive, happy mindset with every phone call.

Why it’s done this way:  Above all else, you should exude a welcoming, happy attitude with every new phone call.  Looking at yourself in the mirror will show whether you are, in fact, happy and positive when you answer the phone.

Rule #6:  Listen Without Interruption

Example: Do not speak until the caller stops speaking.

Why it’s done this way:  Everyone hates being interrupted while they’re speaking–not to mention it’s rude. Be patient with the caller and let them finish what they are saying before you speak.

Rule #7:  Confirm Satisfaction

Example:  “Is there anything else we can help you with?”

Why it’s done this way:  You want to confirm that you’ve answered all of the caller’s questions.

Rule #8:  Take Ownership

Example:  If the caller complains, take ownership by acknowledging our mistake and assuring them we will do better, i.e., “I am so sorry we did not get back to you sooner.”

Why it’s done this way: If the caller is unhappy, you should apologize and offer to make things right.  The caller is not always right, but you should treat them as if they are.

Rule #9:  Say “Thank you” and Invite Them Back

Example:  “It was my pleasure speaking with you, Mary.  Please don’t hesitate to call us if you think of any other questions.”

Why it’s done this way:  You should always end the phone call by: #1: showing appreciation for the phone call, and #2: making a final offer to help again.  This ends the call on a positive note.





photo credit: Phone Call via photopin (license)

Leave a comment below telling me what surprised, inspired or taught you the most (I personally respond to every comment). And if you disagree with my take on running a personal injury law firm, or have a specific, actionable tip, I’d love to hear from you.