July 2017

Creating a Great Experience for Spanish-Speaking Clients

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With the U.S. Spanish-speaking population at an all-time high, now is an ideal time for attorneys serving the Spanish-speaking community to ensure their customer experience is a positive one for all callers, especially those who speak Spanish. Immigration attorneys in particular may want to evaluate their customer service, as the potential for gaining Spanish-speaking clients is on the rise: the number of legal permanent residents applying for U.S. citizenship is at its highest level in four years, and according to government estimates, most of the legal permanent residents in the U.S. are from Latin America. If you’re a solo or small firm attorney hoping to improve your customer experience, looking at these four elements can help you get started.

Your first contact routine. What do prospective clients experience when they call your firm for the first time? Does the experience differ throughout the business day? If you rely on voicemail or an automated system to greet callers during typical working hours, expect to lose some prospects. When shopping around for representation, potential clients are likely to keep looking until they’re able to connect with a live person—and for Spanish-speaking callers, the opportunity to converse with someone in Spanish is key. When it comes to gaining clients, having a dedicated receptionist to make quality first impressions can work wonders. Talking with an attorney during an initial call is ideal, but when that’s not an option, having a friendly voice to greet prospects, listen to their story, and gather intake information can dissuade them from continuing their search.

Your attentiveness. How long do you take to follow up with new and potential clients? Attentiveness is important, especially at first. When you can’t speak to a prospect during their initial call, aim to follow up quickly—the same day if possible. Whatever your typical turnaround time, inform your phone answering team, so they’re able to keep callers in the know. A timeline can give prospects a sense of security. Waiting for a return call “by 5:00pm tomorrow” is preferable for waiting for a return call at an indeterminate time. 

Your expectation setting. Do clients know when and how you’ll be communicating with them? Let new clients know what to expect: how often you’ll check in, how easy you’ll be to reach, how quickly you typically return calls, your preferred method of communication (phone, email, text), etc. The more your clients understand about your process and your level of responsiveness, the better they’ll feel trusting you with their business. And when you need to deviate from a plan—say, if you’re not going to be able to commit to your usual Tuesday call next week—let clients know as soon as possible.

Your personal customer experience delivery. Are you confident in your interpersonal skills? It’s important for your team to show callers warmth and kindness, but as the attorney, it’s even more important that you do so. Whatever a prospect’s reason for seeking your services, chances are it’s a stressful one, and your bedside manner counts for just as much as your credentials (or more). Clients aren’t just seeking your counsel—they’re seeking reassurance and understanding. If you speak Spanish fluently, that will go a long way in building trust with your Spanish-speaking clients. If not, hiring a bilingual employee well versed in law and customer service is prudent move. But try avoiding the temptation to task such an employee with fielding incoming calls—the work involved in translating will likely prove too intense to leave free time for picking up the phone.

Whatever your current customer experience is like, adding a live, welcoming voice to answer calls is a solid first step to gaining clients. For attorneys hoping to gain more Spanish-speaking clientele, a virtual receptionist service can be a cost-effective way to ensure Spanish and English-speaking callers always reach a friendly, professionally trained receptionist.

Click here to visit the Ruby Receptionists—San Diego County Bar Association member benefit page.