Three easy ways to leverage your shared law office space services to avoid damage caused by accidentally missed appointments.
A prospective client arrived in Law Firm Suites’ Reception area for a 12:00 P.M. consultation with an attorney. We called his office, tried his cell, knocked on his door, but he was nowhere to be found.
After 45 minutes, the prospective client took out her phone, called another attorney and booked a consultation. She left the office angrily.
We relayed the story to the attorney the next day, and it turned out to be a simple scheduling error. He accidentally double booked an appointment and was in a meeting out of the office at the time.
It’s easy to enter an appointment in your calendar for the wrong day, then double book the time (as was the case with this attorney). Or you can get stuck in court, or on the subway, or be stuck in traffic.
Regardless of the reason, the client will think that you didn’t care enough to show, and as a result, the financial consequences of the missed appointment can be significant.
Here are 3 ways to leverage the services offered in your shared law office space to proactively diffuse the damage the next time you are running late or make a calendar error.
The receptionist in shared law office is the first person your client will encounter when visiting your office. If you are late for a meeting, the receptionist will be the person who is responsible for diffusing any situations that may arise. Lawyers should communicate contingency plans to the receptionist in case an event, like the one above, occurs.
Make sure the receptionist has all your contact numbers, and confirm that they are up-to-date. It may seem obvious, but you would be surprised at how often an attorney changes their cell number and doesn’t let us know.
At Law Firm Suites, we contact every attorney on their office phone line when a client arrives. If they do not pick up, we send an email to all the client’s email addresses that we have on file. We can also text them if they instruct us to do so.
2. Get a colleague to cover for you.
Solo attorneys commonly have colleagues cover for them when they go on vacation. Why not set up an arrangement where a colleague can cover for you in the event you are late for a meeting in the office?
One of the benefits of working in shared law office space is the availability of other solo or small firm attorneys who have practices similar to yours. In all likelihood, you can find coverage from an attorney whose office is just down the hall. That attorney likely has the same concerns as you, and would be happy to cover if you reciprocate.
Of course, remember to let the receptionist know who your contingency coverage person is so they know who to contact in the event they cannot reach you directly.
3. Create a Time-Limit
Sometimes, even with the best intentions and carefully laid plans, you may just not be available.
Create a time limit and share that with the receptionist.Generally, 30 minutes is an appropriate time limit.
Also, provide the receptionist with a script of exactly how you would like this communicated. This way, you control the interaction, even though you may be physically absent.
Running a solo practice is an all-consuming endeavor. You are responsible for firm administration, marketing and client management. Sometimes an appointment may slip through the cracks.
By creating a formal plan to account for scheduling errors, you will minimize the financial repercussions and hurt feelings a scheduling error can cause.
Observations from Reception is a bi-weekly blog series written by Law Firm Suites’ administrative staff designed to help solo and small firm attorneys in shared law office space practice more efficiently and improve their clients’ experience by analyzing practice behavior from a non-practitioner’s point of view.