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Flaws in conveyancing firms’ call handling revealed by ‘mystery shopping’ study

A new “mystery shopping” study of 230+ law firms offering conveyancing across the UK has revealed the ways in which firms can improve their call handling to avoid missing out on work.

The study – performed by Conveyancer Insights (CI) – was conducted by making a direct phone call to firms, from which over 3,500 data points arose.

One in three firms don’t have an online quote tool. With 6% of the UK working shifts, they struggle to access legal services during traditional working hours, making an online quote tool key to access this portion of the market.

As well as this, 45% – or nearly half – of firms failed to answer the “mystery shopper” call promptly and direct it to the correct department. “Many callers will simply hang up and go elsewhere” in this case, said CI.

What’s more, 38% failed to answer the call professionally – something described as “surprising” by CI. “Many receptionists […] fail to offer any greeting, time of day, or their own name”, it’s said.

The report added that if call handlers offer their name – something done by just half of receptionists at the minute – it “personalises and humanises the process”. Indeed, less than a third were said to have built rapport with the mystery shopper:

“Although often remote, conveyancing remains a ‘people’ business and clients will go where they feel valued.”

It’s also suggested that, while on the phone, just 13% of firms went through the quote there and then, which might present “a missed opportunity to gain a commitment from the client to go ahead”. Doing so, they say, is more likely to lead to an instruction.

Where a firm does give a quote over the phone, it’s said nearly half (46%) fail to send the quote promptly, and only 37% send the quote in a ‘well-laid out’ format:

“It’s surprising how many quotes look dreadful, with Excel tables and Word documents all seemingly thrown together without any skill.”

The value of checking output on mobiles and tablets was reiterated: “This is an opportunity to impress.”

On a more “shocking” note, some 49% of firms offered factually incorrect quotes over the phone, with higher rate SDLT in particular often misquoted.

Another tip offered by CI was to send accompanying documents – such as homemoving guides – alongside the quote, something done by under a quarter of firms:

“This is a great way to differentiate your services over your competition […] Price should not be the only differentiator, but often is.”

“Last year some friends of mine moved home and mentioned just how difficult it had been to instruct a conveyancer,” said Mike Stainsby, Commercial Director, CI, the conductors of the study:

“I was shocked by this and decided to find out why that was the case. Given just how busy firms have been, I had assumed that firms would have finely honed skills when it came to engaging with new business; but the opposite was the case.”

Stainsby pointed out that CI has “a vested interest in the success of conveyancers”, so the study sought to find ways for firms to improve the way they win business. He continued:

“Sadly, many business owners, marketing executives, and decision makers within firms must be completely unaware how their staff are behaving, otherwise home movers would not be treated in the way that they are.Our recent concerns have been around the perceived necessity to reduce fees to compete for business. Given just how much financial headroom many firms have and the volume of enquiries that a market can deliver, it appears that fees should be going up if only staff were able, or trained appropriately, to engage with new business effectively.The changes required to win new business and to improve the way that a business is perceived are, in the main, very small. If only firms knew which ones, they needed to improve upon! … We hope that many firms will pause and take a moment to consider how they can improve their first contact with prospective home movers.”


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