Here Is The Question:

Can my Law Firm use an automated attendant during working hours, and is dealing with an auto-attendant worse than getting a real person and then being put on hold?

Get Rid Of The Auto-Attendant

Both of these are not good scenarios. Get rid of the auto-attendant. That should not happen, and we proved that with a client about a year ago. We literally changed nothing about his firm, other than the fact that he started having a real person answer the calls and his intake literally doubled over 60 days or so. That pretty much answers that.

Put Yourself In Their Shoes

Just think about it. Put yourself in the shoes of the consumer. Imagine you call your bank and you get that message, “Thank you for calling Chase. Please enter your credit card number. Now, press one for this and press two for that and press three for this… “

How many times do you find yourself just pounding the zero button until you get somebody on the phone? Just because it’s your business and it’s not a bank, that doesn’t make you special.

People don’t want to deal with that. They want to talk to a real person. Especially if it’s a Law Firm where it’s likely an emergency, a personal injury, your DUI, something like that.

If your toilet is overflowing and you’re calling a plumber and the plumber says “Thanks for calling, please hold and listen to our automated message. For this, press one, for this, press two, for this, press three…” you’re going to get frustrated and you’re likely to hang up and call the next plumber.

Your toilet is overflowing, so you need something now. You don’t have the patience to sit down and navigate the entire menu. And half the time these menus aren’t even set up properly. That’s another thing that drives me crazy about a lot of these things.

But first of all, get rid of the auto-attendant. You should never have an auto-attendant.

What About Someone Who’s Putting Them On Hold?

The second question is, “Is an auto attendant better than talking to somebody and putting them on hold?” That depends on how you do it.

A lot of the time, I talk to lawyers, and they’re in these offices where they have an executive suite and one receptionist for the entire floor. Basically, all they do is answer the phone. They say “Law office of Mike Smith,” and the caller says, “Is Mike Smith in?” They say “I’m not sure, let me transfer you,” or they just transfer you to voicemail.

Make Sure You Get Their Contact Information

You need to make sure that they’re at least getting their contact information before transferring them anywhere. And, it’s the type of thing where, whenever I ask for somebody and they say “Please hold” and then it’s just the voicemail, I immediately hang up. Nothing hurts me more than that.

Other people do that as well. What I would do if I were you is this: I would make sure that if they’re going to transfer and put somebody on hold, they should absolutely get the contact information before they do that because people will hang up and they will call the next lawyer.

People Have Zero Patience

I see it happen all the time. People have zero patience. Just think about it. If your toilet is overflowing, the plumber picks up and says please hold, and then you’re just sitting there watching your toilet overflow, you’re going to hang up and call another plumber.

And you’re certainly not going to leave a voicemail and hope that that plumber calls you back. So, you have to make sure that they at least get the contact information. In an ideal world, they’ll never transfer you. They’ll never put you on hold.

Here’s one thing I hate. I have a client, and I’ve been complaining to him about this for four years now. He’s been a client since 2015 and he has a really big law firm, and every time I call, the receptionist picks up the phone and says “Laws blah blah blah, please hold,” and doesn’t even give me a chance to say anything. They just put me on hold right away, and that drives me crazy.

What You Should Do

I don’t know how you handle it. The phone is ringing off the hook. You get a lot of phone calls. I understand that. But you’ve got to bring on more people, you’ve got to get an answering service, or you’ve got to get something.

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes, or in the client’s shoes. Think about what is going through their mind when they call your office. It’s an emergency to them. It may not be an emergency to you, but if it’s an emergency to them, you’ve got to make sure that they’re talking to a real person, and that they feel that you can help them with their problem.

So, I don’t like either of those options. I think it’s got to be answered by somebody that can talk to the caller. An auto-attendant? That’s definitely not a good option. Talking and putting them on hold can be okay as long as you get their contact information. It’s still not the ideal scenario.