How to boost your profits-per-partner

  • Agile Working
  • Company Culture
  • Productivity
How to boost your profits-per-partner

Profits-per-partner is a crucial metric for success for law firms, as an indicator of financial health, profitability, competitiveness and rate of growth. In order to run an efficient and successful legal practice, it’s important that firms have the ability to focus on achieving optimal PPP. But the onset of hybrid working has made this harder than ever. Most workplaces now use an ecosystem of different communication channels – Slack, Teams, Zoom, email, phone – which means that attention is often fragmented and distractions are frequent.

In addition, remote work has fostered an always-available culture, with employees keen to be seen as visible and productive. Which may sound like a galvanising force in terms of output, but in fact may have the opposite effect - eating into personal time and leaving your team feeling overstretched.

So how can your firm avoid the pitfalls and embrace a work culture that contributes positively to PPP? Here are some useful tips.

Minimise distractions

A study by the University of California found that it takes an average of 25 minutes to refocus after an interruption. Even if the time you spend answering emails and jumping on Zooms doesn’t sound huge in terms of minutes and seconds, the cumulative effects of lost focus add up to a significant amount of squandered productivity over time.

Busy offices are prime environments for in-person interruptions (the same study found workers are distracted every eleven minutes on average.) But working from home comes with plenty of familiar distractions as well: the Amazon driver at the door, the noisy neighbour, perhaps even a needy pet. Once the flow is broken, it’s tough to get back to the task at hand. Giving your team the trust and flexibility to decide how and where they work is a good place to start, along with ensuring your office has plenty of quiet areas for disturbance-free work. Making sure you have a culture that allows them to properly manage time helps too. For example, 32% of people have found themselves thinking “this meeting could have been an email”, according to SurveyMonkey.

Using a dedicated team to handle potential interruptions – for example, an outsourced switchboard service to field your calls – is also a great way to ensure that your team is able to operate at maximum concentration. A responsible, empathetic switchboard team can answer all inbound calls on your behalf and filter them according to urgency, keeping distractions to a minimum.

Streamline your tech stack to beat the ‘toggling tax’

Your team will need to use a variety of programs for their work – productivity tools, scheduling apps, research databases, word processors, document management software, and much more. Harvard Business Review notes the adverse effects of the so-called ‘toggling tax’ - the time and mental energy lost to flicking between different tabs and programs. Even a simple task might require visits to a practice management platform like Clio or Denovo, a storage solution like Dropbox or OneDrive, plus a handful of other apps – DocuSign, Outlook, Word – all to complete one small job.

Because the different platforms all have unique user interfaces, purposes and layouts, the cognitive effect can be significant. The Harvard Business Review calls it “context switching”, and notes: “Psychology and neuroscience have shown that…even switching or toggling between two applications increases the brain’s production of cortisol (the primary stress hormone), slows us down, and makes it harder to focus.” There is no easy way around context-switching in a modern office environment. But making sure your practice’s workflows are as efficient and user-friendly as possible – with modern, intuitive software and integrated I.T. systems – can help lessen the stress.

Prioritise ‘useful hours’ over ‘visible hours’

Equity partners have undoubtedly experienced ‘responsibility-creep’ in the last few years. The need to manage costs, hold onto business, hire associates, develop relationships with clients and stakeholders, and generate billable hours increasingly fall under the aegis of the equity partner, as well as the usual responsibilities of counselling, research, and analysis.

Since the pandemic, there is an additional expectation for senior partners to be ‘visible’ – in other words, to be contactable outside office hours. There has been plenty of discussion about the tendency for hybrid working styles to blur the lines between our personal and professional lives, but for senior partners – who are managing a complex, high-pressure, ever-expanding set of responsibilities – it can have a significant impact on productivity. Partner roles are time-consuming and mentally draining; proper downtime must be available to ensure your team are working at maximum ability. Again, a switchboard outsourcing service can be an ally here – you can rest assured that professional, trained representatives for your firm are available for out-of-hours call handling, so your senior partners don’t feel like they’re always on call.

Keep your equity partners focussed on the most profitable work

Gone are the days when legal professionals could rely on access to secretarial staff to help out with admin and errands. Legal secretaries have been declining since 2001, and research for the Law Society suggests between 13,000 and 35,000 legal roles will be lost in the next decade, with legal secretaries being the hardest hit.

With so many software packages and personal devices to help with self-management – from productivity suites to instant communication to the notes and voice-recording functions on our phones – there is arguably less justification to keep extensive secretarial staff on payroll. But every small errand – from picking up lunch to fielding calls to taking down notes – is time that a partner isn’t spending on specialist work. The more time they’re able to allocate for tasks that can’t be delegated, the more value they provide for the firm. This is where a switchboard can really prove useful – you can protect your partners from responsibility-creep. No more fielding cold calls, responding to progress update requests from clients, or following up on voice messages. Your switchboard team can triage inbound calls according to importance, so your partners are always focussed on chargeable work – not admin.

Looking for a switchboard solution? Here’s how ComXo can help

ComXo are industry-leaders in transformational switchboard and business support services, committed to redefining the switchboard for law firms. With a combination of technology and great people, we help you deliver exceptional experiences during every call and communication you receive. Our 24-hour switchboard service lets you filter cold calls, triage calls according to urgency, direct enquiries to the right people or department, and allow partners to focus on what matters – billable work.

Why not talk to our team about how we can support your firm to boost productivity.

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How to deliver world-class client experiences

  • Agile Working
  • Client Experience
  • Outsourcing
How to deliver world-class client experiences

According to the Solicitors Regulation Authority there are 9,465 solicitors offices in the UK, of which 71% are incorporated companies or LLPs. The UK legal market is one of the largest in the world, with the majority of prominent global law firms maintaining London offices, alongside prestigious Magic Circle firms.

While there are definitely benefits to being part of an ecosystem of world-class firms – from market stability to regulatory relationships to innovation – it’s undeniable that competition is stiff. Since the rapid digital transformations of the pandemic years, law firms must contend with changing client expectations, the demand for higher productivity and growing competition. In a competitive marketplace, client loyalty isn’t a given – so how can companies make sure clients keep coming back, or better still, that they refer your services to their contacts?

Defining outstanding client experiences

Law firms have a commercial imperative to deliver the best client experience possible. Of course, nobody sets out to provide bad customer experiences – so what are the key factors that define excellent service? How do you make sure you’re keeping clients happy and giving them what they’re looking for?

Here’s a few ways you can be sure you’re delivering the best possible service for your clients.

First impressions matter

Great customer service is all about attention. When new clients walk through the door of your offices, they’re often greeted by a receptionist, and subtly reassured by the professionalism of their surroundings. But how can you replicate that experience in a post-pandemic world, when many first impressions will be via telephone or email? Every point of contact could be your client’s first impression of your practice. You wouldn’t dream of leaving a client waiting in your reception area – nor should they be left on hold for long periods, or being passed around between departments, or having their calls ring out. Attention to every client – whether they contact your business in person, via phone, or by another channel – should be prompt, professional and consistent.

Clear communication

People don’t usually turn to law firms unless they have a problem – something that could be affecting their relationship, their livelihood, their business operations, or even their freedom. Whether your client is a legal department or an individual, it’s important that they receive regular updates, and that any potential issues are flagged in advance. Good business communication is both proactive and reactive, of course – as well as providing updates, you need to be ready to receive and return client calls and emails when they ask for an update. That means ensuring you have enough resource to take calls and return messages. Some legal firms even use outsourced switchboard services to make sure there’s always someone there to pick up the phone, even during busy periods or out of hours.

People value the personal touch

There is a time and a place for self-service portals. Few clients prefer to wait on the phone to find information they could access much more quickly online, or to provide a piece of documentation they could easily upload via your website. In other words, self-service is great for efficiency. But many of your potential clients will be seeking assistance for complex, urgent, or personal matters. Your team must be ready to demonstrate understanding, empathy and professionalism when assisting with difficult cases, and that means ensuring clients can always get through to a real human – someone who can instil a sense of confidence and reassure them of your ongoing support. Leaving them chasing an elusive team member when they need an urgent update is unlikely to leave a favourable impression.

Success can – and should – be measured

When a customer calls you, their experience on the phone can be measured in terms of “call quality”. High-quality calls are polite, professional, prompt, personable, and problem-solving (although every business might have its own KPIs). The quality of calls matters. Historical research suggests that 50% of clients consider “poor communication” a key source of dissatisfaction in their working relationship. Research from the 2019 Legal Trends report bears this out, finding that responsiveness has a “strong impact” on a client’s decision to hire a firm, and that while 79% of clients expect a response within 24 hours, most law firms fall “far below” these expectations. Responsiveness has an impact on a firm’s Net Promoter Score, too. In today’s competitive commercial environment, poor communication standards can easily mean losing a referral, or even a client’s business, to a more attentive competitor.

Your firm can benefit from monitoring the quality of your calls and implementing Service Level Agreements to ensure that customers who try to reach you on the phone always have the best possible experience – getting through to you quickly and receiving a high standard of service when they do.

Setting yourself up for success

Using an outsourced switchboard service to unify communications across your business can benefit you in a number of different ways. From ensuring there’s always a human available when they pick up the phone – even out of hours – to helping you communicate case progress to managing high call-loads professionally and empathetically, the right switchboard solution provides the attention to detail that defines truly outstanding service. In a competitive market – where a missed call could mean another client for your competitor – a central switchboard team that understands your business could be the difference between unsatisfactory and outstanding in your client’s eyes.

How ComXo can help

ComXo are industry-leaders in transformational switchboard and business support services, committed to redefining the switchboard for law firms. With a combination of technology and great people, we aim to help you deliver exceptional experiences during every call and communication you receive. Our 24-hour switchboard service offers industry-leading service-level agreements – 95% of our inbound call traffic is answered within 3 rings. We act as an extension of your team to provide knowledegable, empathetic and professional service from a real human. Ideal for making a perfect first impression.

Talk to our team today about how our specialist service can enhance your client experience.

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Why call data should be every legal firm’s secret weapon in 2023

  • Data
  • Outsourcing
  • Productivity
Why call data should be every legal firm’s secret weapon in 2023

It’s no secret that LegalTech generates a lot of excitement and conversation for law firms looking to gain a commercial edge in a competitive market. By some estimates, as many as 50% of UK law companies are already using some form of AI, according to Oxford University research. But before you start considering swapping out paralegals for ChatGPT, or another ‘silver bullet’ technology, are you confident you’re making the most of your existing tech – like capturing in-bound call data?

If you want to gather more valuable insights, make better-informed strategic decisions and enhance overall customer experience, you definitely shouldn’t overlook the value of a powerful outsourced switchboard service. The right switchboard technology can help your business identify areas for growth, maximise your efficiency, and generate more leads – as well as ensuring a seamless experience for your callers.

Here’s how to use your call data to your advantage and help stand out in a competitive commercial landscape.

Inbound call data helps YOU make better calls

When making decisions for your business, it goes without saying that you want as much information as possible to help decide the right course of action. The more information you have access to, the more you’re able to focus on the important aspects of strategic decision-making – risk assessment, precedent analysis, resource allocation.

Inbound call data tells you more than you might think: where and when do you field most of your new business calls? How do customers and suppliers feel about contacting your office? How productive are your teams in terms of handling inbound calls? How much of your new business comes from cold calls, versus warm leads or referrals? What’s your overall call volume, and are you staffed for out of hours call handling? (Our data shows that 6.7% of calls to legal firms come in outside of standard office hours.) Data drives decisions, so it’s prudent to harness as much of it as possible.

It also makes measuring your marketing much easier

Offline marketing activity can be difficult to measure. But monitoring your inbound calls can help get a better understanding of your campaign’s ROI. By performing conversion tracking and cost analysis on your call data, you can attain a more granular understanding and more control over your marketing activity, letting you fine-tune your marketing for maximum impact and efficiency.

Phone is still the most popular channel for UK consumers

According to Capterra, the majority of UK customers (42%) generally prefer to get in touch with companies by phone. And while that figure is likely to vary across specialised industries, it does underline the fact that most people, when they have a problem that needs solving, want to speak to a real person about it – often urgently.

Calls may be emotionally complex – for example, a call from a potential client who needs to draft a loved one’s will requires a high level of empathy and understanding from the receiver. Giving customers a positive initial impression of your company – including quickly getting through to a real person – is an important first step. Monitoring and analysing how calls come into your business, how well they’re handled, how often they go to the right place, and how satisfied your clients and customers feel afterwards is vital if you’re going to provide continuous improvement to your customer experience metrics. As well as benefitting your business in other ways, such as…

Helping you prepare for busy periods

Unsurprisingly, most businesses want to be sure that they’re allocating their teams correctly, especially during busy periods when finding spare resource can be difficult. And the modern challenges of remote work and hybrid working have added even more complexity to firms’ resource management ability. Analysing call data helps you clearly understand the ebb and flow of your resource requirements. Especially in larger firms, it can be difficult to co-ordinate resource management across departments without having data to describe fluctuations in demand.

The last thing a business wants is to find that the majority of lead-bearing client calls tend to arrive on, for example, a Thursday afternoon during a weekly team meeting, or that a significant portion of calls come in after 6pm on a Friday, when there are fewer staff to help them. Monitoring your call data to find out who contacts you and when will help you know what to expect and how to prepare for the true volume of calls you receive – and helps guarantee a seamless experience for callers.

Allowing you to break down your time more accurately

How much of your firm’s time is spent paying invoices? Or on the phone to suppliers? Or soliciting new business? You may have a time management system in place already, like Clio or ProLaw, but with hybrid offices making things more complicated, it’s helpful to have as much hard data as possible to underwrite the accuracy of your time-tracking. Inbound call data allows you to get clearer breakdowns of how time is being spent across departments. You can use it to get accurate, granular breakdowns of how your teams operate, in order to encourage efficiency and improve overall time management.

Adapting and adjusting your business strategy

Of course, business strategy must adapt to meet changing customer needs, fluctuations in demand, and shifting market conditions. And inbound data provides various valuable indicators that can help inform the best direction for your strategy. For example, call data allows you to monitor the types of enquiry you’re receiving, and in what volume compared to previous quarters. If you need to reallocate resource, make new hires or even make large decisions such as rebranding or developing a new product or service, your call data can provide a useful bellwether for changing customer demand.

Driving change internally

Organisation-wide changes can be hard to implement, especially for larger firms. Since it requires the buy-in of numerous senior stakeholders, it can be difficult for teams to prove the business value of a proposal in a way that gains real traction. Measuring and analysing your call data can help you source the hard data you need to back up your case – making it easier to present findings to senior management.

Staying on top of potential new business leads

Letting phone calls go to voicemail isn’t just bad customer experience – it’s potentially letting new business leads fall through your fingertips at the same time. Even if you’re diligent about returning messages, potential clients have many options available to them and could easily have contacted a competitor before you have the chance to get back to them. With an outsourced switchboard service you can be confident that someone is on hand at all times to field calls, so you never miss a lead.

How ComXo can help

ComXo are industry-leaders in transformational switchboard and business support services, committed to redefining the switchboard for law firms. With a combination of technology and great people, we aim to help you deliver exceptional experiences during every call and communication you receive. We provide innovative 24-hour switchboard services to deliver outstanding customer experience, as well as automatically monitoring inbound call data to generate detailed strategic intelligence for your business. Switchboard data is the key to unlocking continuous improvement across your whole business – from helping you identify efficiencies to boosting new business to analysing customer experience to giving you the data you need to make informed decisions.

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