The main priority for most, if not all, small law firms and solo attorneys is to attract, convert, and retain new clients. But many lawyers are simply trying to stay above water — balancing their lawyering duties with the multitudes of admin tasks required to run a business. They simply don't have enough time to spend on clients and billable work, leading their conversions to plummet. Through the power of automation and outsourcing, however, small and solo attorneys can delegate admin tasks and hand-off certain lead capturing and qualification duties to trained professionals and reliable services. With more hands on deck and more technological support, the most time-consuming tasks are taken off of their plate, giving them more time to focus on more productive work and a larger bandwidth to convert more leads.
In a webinar recorded on July 2nd, 2019, Maddy Martin of Smith.ai sat down with Matt Spiegel of Lawmatics to chat about how law firms can leverage automation and outsourcing to achieve a more relaxed workweek and more successful conversions. Whether it's through intake and marketing software or virtual receptionist and web chat services, small law firms can use automation and outsourcing to improve their efficiency and achieve the productivity and conversions they've been hoping for without having to neglect one or the other.
Looking for some free lead conversion tips? Read the full transcript of the video below, edited for readability. You can also watch the full webinar for free on YouTube by clicking the image below. To check out more videos like this one, with tons of free tips for soloprenuers, small business owners, and lawyers, subscribe to our YouTube channel!
Head of Growth and
Education at Smith.ai
CEO and co-founder of
Hi everyone. Thank you for joining us. Maddy Martin here with Smith.ai and I've got Matt Spiegel from Lawmatics.
We are going to be talking about improving lead conversion via automation and outsourcing today, growth tactics for the modern law firm.
And just one housekeeping note before I introduce Matt and talk a little bit about who I am, there is a link here on the first slide so that you can access all of the slides on your own time and dig into the content a little more deeply. It's bit.ly/smith-ai_lawmatics.
So that link is available to you. You'll have full access to the slides. You can dig into more of the content and the links that we share in the deck.
And obviously, if you have any questions, feel free to post them in the webinar. We'll also provide our contact information later if you want to email us.
So, really quick about me, I run growth and education for Smith.ai. We are a virtual receptionist and web chat service for small businesses, primarily serving attorneys and about— over half of our clients are solo and small firm practitioners.
I've got, man, like, 11, 12 years now of digital marketing and communications experience. I've run marketing and growth for three tech startups now. So very high growth environments.
I've seen a lot about what works and what doesn't.
And Matt is a poster child for what works. He's a very successful founder and business owner. So I'll let him introduce himself.
Hi everyone. I am Matt Spiegel. I am the co-founder and CEO of Lawmatics. I am also the founder and former CEO of MyCase and I practiced law for about six years before all that. So I have been around for quite a while in the legal tech space, trying to solve many of the problems that law firms have.
Obviously, MyCase being one of the bigger practice management platforms on the market and then our newest offering, Lawmatics, which is still pretty new, but it doesn't feel that new to me already. But we are, you know, obviously providing a service that is really needed for lawyers right now: the intake side, the marketing automation side, the CRM stuff.
And so that's what we are up to over here at Lawmatics now.
Just one little note, I already did tell you a little bit about Smith.ai so just one moment here.
I wanted to just mention that if you are here and on the web browser version, feel free to introduce yourself in chat, talk a little about your practice or pose any questions to us. I will monitor the chat during this session so anything that you mentioned there, I'll keep an eye on it, if you want to say hi.
Some folks that I recognize from Max Law Con, welcome. Nice to reconnect with you and feel free to just post anything in there that comes to mind, even if you have suggestions as we go through things, you know. We don't have all the answers, we just, you know, see a lot of different examples of good practices. So happy to share anything that you want to mention that you're doing particularly well in your practice or that you have questions about.
Hey Devin. Nice to see you. Hey Dustin. Great to see you, too.
So, anyway, that's how you get in touch with Smith.ai. I think we're done with that slide.
So let's talk about our learning objectives.
We're going to focus on identifying holes and opportunities in your lead conversion flow so that's capture, it's nurturing, it's intake, it’s obviously, hopefully, retainer.
And then we'll talk the talk about systematizing best lead qualification questions and your intake form. Oftentimes those are increasingly synonymous and maybe Matt can talk a little bit more about the difference between qualification and full intake, but the form creation and the process there is something that often has a lot of room for optimization, both in terms of who is responsible for it, how it's hosted, and the content in there.
And then we'll talk about automation and outsourcing that can facilitate communications that are timely, and also don't necessarily involve your direct attention all the time so that you can focus more on lawyering than on some of these more laboring tasks.
Now, who cares about responsiveness?
The past two years, Clio legal trends reports, and I'm guessing, you know, the report that comes out this October is going to reconfirm what we're seeing in the last couple of years, which is that attorneys are spending an ungodly amount of time on administrating their law firms and on following up and communications, or lack thereof, and that can waste precious resources or just consume them.
So on average, we see about two hours a day spent on billable work and that's far surpassed by the amount of time that admin tasks take, which are primarily composed of office admin, invoicing, and technology.
But we know that there's a huge importance to generating new clients because a third of the time not spent on billable work is going towards business development.
And these are things that are networking, writing content, getting your brand built online, responding to reviews, things that, you know, maybe not responding to reviews, but a lot of those things are tasks and work that only you can really do and are precious uses of your time.
Now, speaking about things that are not precious uses of your time, that's the initial responsiveness to a potential new client.
Keeping in mind that that responsiveness is key, it just doesn't necessarily need to be you.
So we know from these reports that two out of three potential clients, almost 70% say that their decision to hire is most influenced by an attorney's responsiveness to their first call or email.
And what's really meant there is the law firms’ responsiveness, not the individual attorney so that's an important distinction. And I should actually update that slide.
And the issue is that— and I'll get into the dilemma in a second where I kind of compare these views and contrast them, but there's a demand for responsiveness, but then the actual people who hire an attorney after a consult, it's 40%, it's actually the minority.
So that filtering the qualification is a critical step to protecting your time because we know that 23 minutes is lost just in recovery time for every interruption. And those happen about six times a day.
So we lost Matt, but that's okay. He'll come back with us.
Oh, good. Hi. So this is your slide. Go for it.
So everything that Maddy just sort of just laid out is sort of echoed here and I think really summarized great and gives everybody a really, really solid understanding of just how critical response time is to conversion.
And these are some general stats. It's not necessarily focused on law firms, but very very applicable because this is really for any type of business.
But if you just look at some of these numbers here, you see that conversions are 391% higher if responses are within the first minute. Longer than five minutes, you see an 80% decrease in lead qualification.
So just kind of think about this for a moment.
If you have a hundred clients, a hundred leads calling your firm, if you're not getting to them within the first five minutes, 80% of those are basically going to be worthless to you. So 80 of those hundred leads are going to be effectively gone.
Responding within five minutes is 21 times more effective than after 30 minutes.
My guess is that all of you want to try and think that you're responding within five minutes to most of your inquiries, but the reality of it is, is that you're not and you can't, right, without the right systems in place. It's almost impossible. I know this because I tried.
But especially if you're, like, let's say a criminal defense lawyer and you're in court all day, every day.
Well, the judge is not going to be too happy — in fact, I've done it before and the judge was not happy — answering your phone in court because you don't want to miss out on that potential new client. So you just can't do it if you are a solo small firm attorney who manages a busy caseload.
Even though, you know, we mentioned five minutes versus 30 minutes, but look at even responding within five hours is 40% more effective than after 24 hours.
So again, there's such a benefit to getting to them within that first minute, but even if you can't, all hope is not lost.
There's still opportunities, you just got to get to them pretty quickly.
You know, it's funny. I always use that criminal defense solo practitioner example, Matt, because it's so true. You know, you're in court in the morning, maybe you're traveling to multiple courthouses, like there was no way for you to pick up your phone, even though, you know, the mismatch between the potential client and your schedule isn't an indication of your ability to actually serve them. It's just your ability to actually respond to their initial inquiry.
And one of the things that I'll mention is that in terms of your initial responsiveness, it doesn't have to necessarily be the same exact channel.
And a good example of that is if someone is completing your contact form on your website— and we'll kind of go into the composition of those forms— one of the things that we do at Smith.ai that's is really effective is to have people forward those warm completions to us, and then we call them back.
So it's sort of, like, it starts on a, you know website, goes to an email for the alert, and then goes to us for a callback, that can be a really effective workflow that you can actually set up with email forwarding rules so that it automatically comes through based on the subject line of that email or within the system that you have for recording those and capturing those forms, if it's separate from your email.
And what happens is that callback can then follow your workflow for qualifying that lead further and then schedule the appointment on your calendar when you're available and all of that sort of happens while you're in court or while you're busy.
So that's really an effective way of using multiple channels to get the best response, because, for us as outsourced receptionists, we're not in your email, that would actually be, to me, an ethical concern. So that's a way to sort of get around that and have limited visibility just for what we need to make that callback, but have that responsiveness happened very promptly.
So, you know, Matt and I have been talking about jumping into sort of the deep end of lead nurturing and conversion.
So, just so we're all on the same page, this is sort of the way that we look at the entire process from sourcing the lead, and we know referrals are super important there, but also some of that content generation, some freebies— I'll share a form that I think is one of the best examples of a lead generation form.
That's a quote-unquote freebie.
Obviously, reviews and some paid search, if that's the right fit for your firm, and then organic outreach, whether that's inbound, outbound, social media, organic, you know, website visitors who are coming to you or through online reviews.
And then the contact method is something that we look at as sort of a moving target, to be honest.
I mean, we have phone, which we all know and love or hate, and then we have email, which is sort of a restricted channel that not everyone has access to, text messaging similarly, and then website chat, which we also manage on behalf of clients and we're seeing increasingly, a lot of engagement on that front in terms of filtering out those initial people who are not quite comfortable with making a phone call.
There's sort of an anonymity that potential clients like with chat, and I'll get into that a little bit later, that can help facilitate communication and a little bit more information to help you make a good decision on whether or not that's a good potential client and for them to also sort of self-filter themselves out based on the information you provide.
Now, the person who is responding can obviously be the attorney, an in-house assistant or paralegal, legal secretary, or receptionist service, or AI. There's a lot of automatic responses, whether it's through webchat or email or Zipwhip for text messages.
And then, after that, there's sort of the qualification step that comes forward.
And I think about this as a tree trunk with two branches.
So one branch, you kind of branch-off the good potential clients who you either proceed with, you know, intake immediately, or you nurture them over time.
And obviously, this also has a lot to do with your practice area. So if you're in a state or business law, there may be a much longer decision-making period where someone is deliberating or has to consult with other business partners or family members before moving forward with retaining you for legal services.
Now, in terms of an immediate decision, that may be the case with criminal defense or personal injury, things that require, you know, sort of an immediate, you know, decision-making process and then follow through.
After that, hopefully, you get the new client now on the other branch of the tree. These, you know, for lack of a better term, are bad leads and they're unqualified. They're not a good fit for your practice area or your location.
They're not willing to pay your fees, their timing isn't right, whatever the case may be.
The next step there — and this is often overlooked — is making referrals to firms you recommend. And this actually isn't something that you have to do yourself. Oftentimes it can be outsourced.
We actually have a lot of clients who will give us a list of firms they recommend.
And this is something I talked about at the Maximum Lawyer conference this year— is that strategically, this can really bring in a lot of goodwill and future clients to your firm because when you make the referral, you're not just saying, “I recommend this firm,” but “Hey, while I have you on the phone, let me at least tell you what I do in case you in the future or someone you know, now or in the future has a need for my law firm.”
So there's an opportunity there.
I will say that some state bars will allow monetization of these referrals, meaning referral fees, but some don't. So you really need to check your bars rules for professional conduct and referral fee acceptance before taking any payment for that.
Sometimes, it really does require that you're doing work on the case. And other times it's, you know, within reason of the amount of work that you put in for making that referral.
So let's talk about lead conversion and identifying how best to run this process and what you can hand off and what you can automate and what you can streamline.
And one of the things that we're going to be talking about is that the dynamic between human intelligence and machine intelligence.
And this is something that Matt, you know, lives and breathes.
We've got the actual content, which could be a phone call grading, it could be the testimonials you include in your lead nurture dress, it could be the content on your website, it could be your tone of your brand, for example.
That's sort of the human element. That's what you are going to create yourself.
And then there's the machine intelligence, which says, maybe based on predictive analytics or based on the triggers that you need to send out communications promptly to practice ethically, but, or to, at least, you know, get the best conversion rates from the people who reach out to your law firm.
That's the machine intelligence. So where is the intake form hosted? What are the sort of triggers and automations that happen either set up by you initially or suggested by the technology that you're using?
And that can be on the lead side, it can also even be with case reminders and updates, it can be the AI that's coming forward in the case research space.
Next week in Minnesota, I'm talking to ROSS Intelligence and they're doing some really incredible things around AI case research.
So, Matt, do you have anything else that you want to add here?
Well, not, you know, so I don't look at it— look, I think for purposes of intake and conversion, I think it's not, you know, machine intelligence, I think it’s important, but really what you're doing here is you're taking your human intelligence and you're plugging it into a system that is going to automate a process for you.
So I would argue that most of the intelligence that everyone should be using is their own intelligence. It's content from you as a person, but you're putting it into a machine to kind of facilitate it.
And the general theme that I want everyone to kind of think about as we talk about these lead version tools and techniques, really, and how to increase your conversion percentage, I want you to just think of it as it's a process, right? And you should be systemizing this process.
And what I mean by that is every single person who comes into your firm for a particular type of case should always go through the same experience. Right?
And this is sort of, you know, almost like a franchise type of methodology, right? The idea that a franchise is— you know what you're going to get every time you walk in. Right?
Like if you go to McDonald's, for example, and I'm not gonna, you know, I'm not trying to equate people's law firms to McDonald's, but I'm giving you an idea from a marketing and a conversion standpoint, you know what you are going to get, you're going to get the same packaging, you're going to get the same, you know, numbered meals.
I mean, everything is going to be the same.
Your law firm, the experience that a client has should not be any different than that, right? Every person that comes in the door should be going through the same process. You cannot execute that if you don't have the right systems to automate that process.
If you try to just do this the same every time without a system you're going to be different, you're going to have different methodology, different processes. You're going to think you're adhering to the same thing, but you will change.
And that does several things.
One, it— and I think the most important is it doesn't allow you to figure out what's working and what's not working because you don't have an audit, you know, an automated process that allows you to dive into the details and the data.
So, one, just again, that theme to kind of think about, as we talk about these things, is repeatability: the ability to kind of make sure that every client is having the same experience, whatever you want that experience to be, that it's the same every time.
That's a really great point.
And actually, one other thing that— Chelsea Lambert actually talks about really often and I've sort of adopted in my presentations— is that the more you have these documented and refined systems and processes that, you know, work from the data, right?
I know that I convert this many qualified leads within this period, every time as long as you're available to take on that new casework.
It actually makes your firm a lot more easy to sell and put on the market if you ever are in that position or to bring on partners. It allows you to more accurately value your firm to get the most out of it, if you ever do sell.
This sort of documentation and process and testing has not only immediate impact based on the business that it can generate for you and the peace of mind that it can give you in just handing off some of these things and automating them, but long-term, it actually really does build important value within your farm.
So we're going to need to retitle, I think this presentation to make it— I kinda love that actually.
So let's talk about these five steps.
And the first is really responsiveness and managing it and systematizing it. So effective response management, really easy. It gets you paid.
PAID is an acronym. P stands for predictable, so it's the same, every time. It's accessible, which means that it is multichannel, right?
Commonly we're hearing the phrase or word omni-channel now, which is if someone contacts you text message or webchat, a service like ours, that's responding to text-based communications would sort of see that in entire flow.
It's similar to that.
Accessibility means that you are not only being responsive in terms of how prompt you are to respond, but also you're being responsive because you're using the channels that your potential clients are using to communicate with you.
And if you don't open up those channels, like if you don't open up text messaging, or if you open up the wrong channels, like your personal cell phone number, it can really limit accessibility.
And frankly, another thing that I'll mention here is that you want to minimize access by blocking spam and things like that so that— and by using, you know, a filtering service like receptionist or in-house, whatever— so that you can know with confidence that when people are asking for access to you by phone, for example, they're sort of knocking on that door, that you are willing to pick up because you know, it's been screened and filtered through your processes.
It's also individualized. So a lot of software now allows you to capture important data on the referral source, on how they reached you, and to capture that information via an intake form. So that, for example, when I mentioned earlier, we're making callbacks to contact forms, there is rich information provided to us to have an informed discussion.
And then also it is directed. So there is a goal in mind. So when you respond, you're not just passively, sort of like opening yourself up to a fire hose of information, but you're maintaining control of the conversation as well.
And I think that's really important to set the groundwork that you are in control from the outset, and that will set you up, hopefully, if that potential client does hire you, for the expectation that you are in control and you're managing those communications throughout the entire process, which is really important.
We all know what it's like to work with someone who is a bully of a client, and it's not pleasant for anyone and it often doesn't best serve the client themselves.
The other thing is not just in terms of routing, but think about priority of people who call you. So if you're using a service or even someone in house to manage calls, do you have a system for sort of flagging, putting up the bat signal when a judge or courthouse calls versus a, you know, marketing agency that you're working with, they can wait a few hours for you to get back to them?
So think about the priority and think about the potential clients versus existing clients and if there are different ways that you can handle communications with them.
The other thing is blasts and sequences. I just had a call earlier with a firm who said that their sequence for call handling is four rings to the front desk and then four rings to another five individuals who could pick up the call and then it goes to voicemail and they were suggesting that we pick up after those first eight rings. And I said, you know, “That's really not a great experience because as much as we want to plug in and we want your business and to help you, if you plug us in that way, it's actually still not going to be a great experience because after eight rings, that's 30 seconds or so of the phone ringing. That person's probably not leaving a voicemail, let alone wanting to talk to any human being after being on the phone for that long.”
So, in this day and age, eight rings is an eternity, but I would say, be careful about these sequences. We find often that people are not willing to do IVR because your experience with the phone routing is Marriott Hotels or an airline or Verizon, or, you know, who knows what other unpleasant experiences we've, you know, experienced in the last week.
But I will say that there is a balance where if you have a routing system, you know, press one for new clients, two for existing, or dial your extension. If you know it, or, you know, have the option to dial zero for a live operator or press one for Jane and two for Joe, sometimes those can be very effective and it doesn't have to feel like a big corporation, but it can actually add some professionalism to your firm.
I would just recommend that you don't wait eight rings to then ring over to a receptionist service or as a backup, because the experience there is going to be someone who's tired or someone who's already hung up.
The last thing that I would say on the phone side is that if you don't audit your phone regularly, you know, I'd say probably once a quarter or at least a few times a year, make sure that you know if there's any latency in your phone system.
Because the VUI people phones have come a long way, the connectivity is excellent, but it's really important that you are not losing out on leads based on a technical issue, like latency, which we see with some phones systems off the top of my head, 8x8 and Vonage, we've had a lot of issues with them.
What happens is I'll call Matt's firm, for example, and I'll hear eight rings, but he'll just hear one. And then he picks up and he thinks, “Man. Why is this person— why is Maddy so grumpy today?” You know, or like, “I don't hear anyone on the line now.” Well, they just hung up because it was eight rings.
So that's sort of latency is a bad experience, but one that is extremely preventable, as long as you know that it's happening because there's not going to be any sort of alert unless you see, “I missed this call and it took a really long time, you know, why was this such a long phone call, if there wasn't even a voicemail that was left?”
Make sure that your auditing and your sort of secret shopping your experience, honestly, whether that's on phone or online, you know, complete your own intake form once in a while and see what the experience is like.
So just to, to kind of chime in on some of that, you know, one thing, this is an important part, when you're talking about the response times and minimizing the response times, and if you have a receptionist service, like Smith or something, then you should have that set up to handle pretty much any situation.
But it goes actually beyond that, right? Maybe they're submitting a form on your website, maybe they're calling and you have your intake specialist or your receptionist service filling out an intake form.
That's where a system is really critical because what you want to have happen is let's say someone comes to your website and they fill out a form on your website.
Again, you're in court or wherever you are, but you can't get to that person right away. What is going to happen? They're going to call the next person on Google, or they are going to, you know, go to the next person on Google's website.
So there are systems, you know, look again like Lawmatics is one of those systems, right?
But forget about Lawmatics. I mean, there's many systems out there, you know, that are not legal-specific that allow you to have something where, hey, when that form is submitted, you're going to send them a text message automatically. And you're going to send them an email automatically, and you're going to try to engage them right away.
And these things have nothing to do with a human being or someone from your firm.
It’s just acknowledgment.
It's just acknowledging, right? It's like, “Hey, we're engaging you. So you've raised your hand and we've called on you. It doesn't mean that we're talking on the phone with you, but what we're doing is we're preventing you from calling that next person on Google.”
You're buying a little bit of time. Right. Absolutely.
And even with referrals, I mean, you know, a lot of attorneys who I talked to say, “You know, the referrals are a little bit more patient. They’ll wait.” You know, I wouldn't make the assumption that a referral is only getting one attorney referral when they're asking all their friends and family, you know, “Who do I work with on the Stanley law matter?”
Like they're getting multiple referrals. So it's not the case necessarily that those folks who are the most precious potential clients oftentimes are going to wait around for you to get back to them.
Yeah. And I mean, and I couldn't agree more and it's really critical and it's the first point, right?
It's the first step of this process. If you don't get them engaged right away, you're going to lose them. And then who cares what other stuff you're doing to kind of increase your conversion rates, right?
You've got to get them engaged with you.
Maybe they call you, your receptionist service, fill out an intake form that goes into a platform, and then depending on what type of case, it sends them out a form for them to fill out more information, to learn about their matter, right?
Again, they are a hundred percent engaged. They're not calling the next person. They feel like they're working with your firm already, even though you haven't even spoken to them.
So there are lots of little things you can do there to make sure that you have an automation platform that is engaging with those people before you are able to actually contact them.
Yeah, and I mean, you set the expectation for how you're going to work, how you're going to respond, sort of the pace of all of that from the outset.
So you build trust, you engender goodwill if you make the experience amazing from the beginning.
I mean, we all know when you go out to eat at a restaurant and you didn't have a good experience, it doesn't even matter if you sat down and you didn't— let's say you didn't even sit down to eat because you had such a bad experience. That person, you, you may even write a negative review based on your experience with the hostess, let alone the fact that you haven't even tried the food, right?
So we see those reviews on Yelp all the time. And that's the sort of like, importance to the consumer of experience these days. It's not only speed, but it's also every single channel or every single communication opportunity with your firm.
You're subject to the same expectations that restaurant has, that a roofer has, you know, a realtor has.
As a service provider, you are as good or as weak as every point of contact with your firm in the beginning, at the end.
So if you make a great referral that could lead to an incredibly positive online review, even though that person didn't hire you. Same goes for if you have someone who's answering your phones, who's really unfriendly and unhelpful, that can lead to a negative review.
So we often talk about reviews and the importance of building your online reputation and that being a huge source of new potential clients at the top of that funnel. Think about your experience and how that impacts your firm.
So I'll also tell you guys this, I mean, �?cause at the end of the day, everything we're talking about here, it's all about the client experience, it's all about making sure you are providing good customer service, really, at the end of the day, which is not something that we think about as lawyers all that often, but we really need to.
And I will tell you this, the legal outcome that you provide your client is not the most important factor in whether they had a good experience.
So you could be— I've seen this before— you could even actually be not the best lawyer and not provide a great outcome necessarily to your client, but have provided the best client experience and customer service that is possible and they will refer you to other people. They will have had a great experience.
So you've got to keep that in mind that it is a business, just like any other, and customer service is massively critical.
And then in terms of customer service, one of the things that, again, getting back into like the McDonaldization or whatever of the process here in a good way— I mean, in the best possible way— standardizing the qualification process.
So honestly, before you even come up with the forms and the questions that you're going to use, and that you're going to ask, think about not only the favorite clients that you've had the best, the most ideal clients, the potential clients you really wanted, but you missed for whatever reason, and then identify those common qualities and then also identify two other things.
So one is like the goal alignment, you know, are you just hanging your shingle? Are you kind of just accepting all the clients you can possibly get right now or do you have the ability to be really picky? Are you expanding or you may begin to open another office? Is that in your location or a different area? What sort of work-life balance is right for you?
Because there's no one set way of balancing work and life. That's totally individual.
But the other thing that I would say is what information do you need to convey at this point? That is not question-driven, but it is more of an FAQ. So if you have a contact form that's really a lead qualification form, are you getting the information that you need, but also informing the person of what you do and what you don't do at the same time?
And I'll go through a particularly good example of that when I share Emily Cooper's intake form in just a few slides.
But use these questions to pick, among all the questions that you could ask, what are the five to 10 most important ones to filter out the vast majority of bad potential leads?
And then you can figure out what to do with them, how to refer them and build goodwill or whatever, but figure out the ones that are going to refine down to a pool of candidates that is the best potential clients for your firm.
And then also, how informed are they before they get to that consultation staff? Because as we know, you know, only 40% of them approximately are going to become clients. So how do you get rid of more of those 60% before they spend your time on a console?
And then think about how you're actually going to do that consult. So do you have to do an in-person? Can it be on the phone? If you're going to do a video chat, do you require them to download some specific software that they may or may not have, like Skype?
And if you work in a state, you know, in an estate practice, are they going to know how to get that software? Do they have it, is it, you know, sort of tech-savvy person that you're working with or not? Is it something that is readily accessible getting back to that accessibility?
And then is it free or paid?
So oftentimes we'll see people now adopting a recommendation that I often make, which is to put your calendar on your website or allow people to book appointments through your website or through a receptionist service, maybe even through your email signature or in your email nurturing drip.
You have a call to action, which is schedule a consult. Great. But what you don't want is someone willy-nilly know, coming from Google, scheduling a consult because it's free.
So what you can do is you can charge for consultations. And frankly, one of the really nice things that you can do is, as a token to the people who are really a good fit for your firm, who are most likely to hire you after that consult, you can actually have a policy of crediting back that consultation fee to their first bill, which means that it's not actually an extra cost as long as they are sincere about hiring you.
So that can be sort of like an offset to that initial, you know, so-called pain points.
And then determine sort of the form creation tools that you're going to use. Are you, through your CRM or intake software, able to create forms that are hosted on your website, that are connected to your calendar, that allow for a workflow so that someone who learns about your practice areas or who is referred to your firm can then complete the basic information, either directly themselves or on the phone or via web chat, whatever?
And then they can take the next step of scheduling a consultation.
Now, one of the things that's often overlooked in this form is asking, how did you hear about your firm? And that is absolutely critical.
And what's especially critical is asking it as early as possible, because if you wait the next day until that consultation happens and someone found you on Google or was influenced by a particular review that they found online or on your website, the likelihood that they're going to remember the specifics of that diminishes over time.
So it's really important that you capture that information as early as possible. And if you have someone who is sort of handholding the process and walking through these questions over the phone, make sure that that's one of the questions that they ask and they get as many specifics as possible.
And then one other thing I'll mention here, I hear this sometimes when people outsource to other services is that they will give access to their CRM or intake software with a login for that third-party vendor.
Now it's one thing if it's a single individual and they've signed an NDA and they're, you know, checking constantly for conflicts that they're working with others, but if you're using a receptionist service that can handle calls from a number of different clients, some of whom may be in your area and your location, it's really important that you do not give them access.
Because if you have a team or multiple people, you do not want to open up that door. You want to do— and we'll talk about this later on in the integration side— you want to have the information flow via the software, via API so that there's no login necessary.
And the intake form is on your website or it's via a publicly accessible URL, maybe that you only give to certain people, but that access is one way. Same thing with your calendar. No one's logging in and viewing your calendar, but also able to dive into more details or make changes or see confidential case information.
What you want is just one-way access to add calendar appointments, to add new intake forms, and not change existing content or dive deeply into content that's confidential.
So that's the tip that I have, and I would be very careful to use any service, not software, but any service that's asking you for access to Outlook or access to your intake. “I need a new license you know, for the receptionist service.”
That is really in the legal industry, not a practice that I recommend or think is ethically compliant.
I'll talk about this intake form that I mentioned.
This is for Emily Cooper in Minnesota, and she does a lot of things really well here, and she keeps it pretty simple.
She's asking for contact information, but she also has a filtering element here.
And I know the slide is small. You can see it, if you open the link on your own side later on, but one of the questions that she asks in addition to how did you hear about us is what is your legal issue? Is it family law, social security, disability, or other.
And that has a star next to it.
I would actually take it a step further and say, if she's only doing one of those two things, don't even have other on there because if it's starred and you cancel select one of those two things, you actually can't submit the form.
And what does that mean? It means that the person has to make a choice.
And if neither of those two things fit, then you have a clear filtering mechanism. So only people who are within those practice areas you serve are submitting that form.
The other thing I would say is that yes, she's asking, is there a court date scheduled in your case that gives her a sense of priority.
Better still is to ask for the date, which is something that we see, sometimes I have a slide in for Justie Nicol and she does a really good job. She's in Fort Collins, Colorado, and she actually has a field that says, put the date of your court date, if it is scheduled.
And that gives her an idea of how urgent the matter is, and she's a criminal defense attorney. And actually she has a workflow in place so that if someone has a date that is really, really soon, actually even sometimes the next day, she is able to have the consult scheduled on our calendar or call back immediately and then have the document generated for the retainer.
The invoice is automatically generated and she says very clearly, "As soon as you pay, I will get to work."
And sometimes she's able to actually turn it around that quickly. So that is a really powerful automation that takes advantage of someone completing something on their own, and then really prompt, responsiveness, and follow through.
Now, the other example, is in terms of lead generation, how, at the top of the funnel, can you get more potential clients who are not quite ready maybe to say, I'm going to raise my hand and say, “I need an attorney, but I have a need the indicates I may need an attorney now or in the future.” And the best example of this is Chi City Legal's eviction notice.
And what they have, if you go to, I think it's chicitylegal.com and then you go to their forms page. I linked to it here, but if you're interested right now, you can visit it. It's basically a form that has the eviction notice for the city of Chicago, from landlord to complete in five days, or I think 21 or 28 days.
All the information they need gets emailed to them. This is automatically completed into the proper eviction notice form with instructions for submitting it themselves. And then the attorneys at the firm know exactly when they need to follow up.
So if it's a five day notice, they're going to follow up in three or four days and say, “How's it going with that eviction? Do you need any help? We actually specialize in serving landlords in these sorts of matters.”
So it can be a very helpful sort of like generous approach where people are extremely likely to open your email or pick up the phone if you call after having first delivered all this value to them.
Matt, do you want to say anything? I just downloaded a lot of information.
No, I mean, everything you said is really spot on. Right.
And I think like what you've illustrated is sort of the idea of these workflows of what's possible with technology now to literally take somebody from the first moment of contact all the way through to almost hiring your firm, in some cases actually hiring your firm, but in other cases, at least getting in there for the consultation completely automatically without having to spend any attorney time, any work, you know, support staff time, any of that stuff. Right.
You have systems, you know, that can take a lead coming in and spit out everything that you possibly need sending, you know, determining, “Okay. Here's the type of case they have. So because of that, we need to send out this form. And once this form gets sent out and comes back to us, we have some information that is on that form that is going to tell us what to do next. And maybe it's qualifying them as a lead. And if they are a qualified lead and we want to trigger a link to be sent out to them to schedule a consultation. If they're not a qualified lead and we want to trigger this email to go out to them to say, 'Hey, unfortunately, you know, we might not be able to take your case, but maybe we want to refer you out somewhere,' or whatever it may be."
But the bottom line is that this entire, all of these processes can be 100% automated.
And again, if you're not automating, then you can't do them and you're not having that repeatable process to which you can then get information from get data from and understand where the gaps are in your conversion process and how to fix them.
So these are great examples of what you can do with technology right now.
Yeah. No, absolutely.
And I mean, the only other thing that I would say is that if your comfort level is not quite at the point where, you know, you want people to be booking appointments with you and you're giving this level of access to people you haven't yet spoken to, one of the things that some software allows you to do, for example, ScheduleOnce allows you to have booking with approval.
So you can sort of baby step yourself into some of these workflows where, with ScheduleOnce, for example, you would have people select three appointment times and you pick the one that works best for you because maybe you have a work calendar and then you have a personal calendar where it says, “I have a dentist appointment or my kid's soccer match or whatever,”.
So whatever flavor you pick here, I encourage you to just at least try it to get started and then refine over time because what we find is that there's sort of an analysis paralysis that happens where people think that they have to have all of their systems set up before they start handing things off.
And actually what we find is that the prompt of handing something off and setting that as a goal, will force you to set up certain basic systems that you can then test in the handoff and refine over time because you actually have data around what happens during those communications or handoff and isn't just assumptions based on what you think will happen if you run that process.
So I really encourage. You know, the risk is low when it comes to calendaring and changing something here or there in an intake form. It’s not— you're not actually doing casework where a mistake could be more costly. You know, if you think, “Oh, this process could be optimized better,” or “I could have gotten that person to convert after one day instead of three days waiting,” well, that's totally fine.
And you're going to go through that process and it's not the end of the world.
Now, we don't have time to go through Conor's lead capture and conversion workflow, but Conor was at Chi City Legal and is sort of a Zapier and automation expert.
So I encourage you to read his article that he wrote for Smith.ai and listened to an interview that he did with the Inbound Success podcast, which is a HubSpot partner, I believe. And he has a lot of information there on the efficiencies that he's gained and the increase in profitability, increase in revenue capture that he has had from that workflow he’s automated.
And then, you know, I'll hand it off to Matt to talk about sort of the business impacts of some of these automations.
And just to kind of point out on that, too, as you look through his conversion process and his automation process that you had, the beauty isn't in small plug for Lawmatics here is that entire process where he's talking about Zapier and WebMerge and a bunch of other things, a hundred percent in Lawmatics, all of that can be done.
And that's what I mean by technology now being available that makes these things really easy to use. Yo don't need to be this web development guy who knows how to use Zapier and all these different tools in order to get it done.
You can do it in one platform, which is just so much easier.
And fewer bills to review. I mean, you know, the less you have to manage in a solo or small practice, the better.
That's true, but to kind of bring it back here to kind of tracking your marketing performance, and this is really all about the data.
It's very important, obviously, to understand, look, where are your cases? Where are your cases coming from? Where are your leads coming from? What marketing sources are driving them? Are they referrals? Are they from a, you know, pay-per-click lead? Like where are they coming from? This is important.
I will tell you right now in my businesses, in my law firm that I had, in anything like that, I will never do anything that I cannot measure. I will never spend any money on something that I cannot measure its effectiveness, regardless of how well I think it's going to do.
If I can't measure it, I won't do it. And I suggest everybody to kind of take the same approach.
If you can't measure it, you shouldn't be spending money on it. And most of the time, anything you're going to be spending money on, there should be a tool available to help you track its effectiveness.
So what you're going to really be doing with some of these, you know, marketing and, you look here, we lay out kind of the growth tracking opportunities here, like where things are coming from and the things that you can track the web is pretty easy, email also pretty easy.
Most of these systems are going to allow you to track the engagement. Yeah.
You didn't even conversions coming from those emails, obviously.
And then on the phone, right? There are lots of different ways to track phone. Your receptionist service is going to help you a lot with tracking where people are coming from, you know, when they're calling in.
But you're going to have services that help you with that, too, like CallRail or other call tracking systems, which allow you to assign specific numbers to different marketing sources that you have out there.
So it makes it very simple to track.
You know, even phone numbers, like, “Hey, someone saw my billboard.” “How do you know that they called you? Because they saw a billboard?” “Well, you have a special phone number on that billboard that allows you to really get data on all those different phone numbers that were called.”
And again, a lot of these things should plug back into your CRM to give you that one core platform that is going to collect all of this data and let you dissect it.
And at the end of the day, again, this all comes down to conversions because if your layout your conversion process and your pipeline, right, you're looking at all the different stages where people are. If you don't know where they're falling off, and you have no idea where to go, what gaps you need to go and plug. So the data is just absolutely critical.
We're giving you all these tools and strategies on how to increase your conversion rates, but if you don't know where your problems are, then you're never going to be able to address them and increase that conversion at the end of the day.
So having these tracking is just really, really critical.
And again, I wouldn't do anything or spend any money on anything that you can’t track.
Yeah, absolutely. And also where to double down, you know, if there's something that is working for you, explore how much more money, how many more resources, how much more effort you can expand into that existing channel that's working until it's really fully saturated to your capacity to serve a bigger market.
And then also what's similar to that, that you can replicate your success with it.
So, you know, we only have five minutes left. I'm just going to say that we do have a bit of a playbook for you for the next steps to get started.
The most important thing is to do that sort of audit, to determine what are the most important questions for you to put into your intake form.
And then also, what information do you need to convey at the outset to make sure that the people who are completing that form and scheduling appointments with you are the best potential fit for your firm?
And within that process, identify what you could cut down on or ease up or reduce what you can automate and what you can outsource.
And then think about, and Matt mentioned this early on, you know, only tackle one or two things, in so far as they don't overlap, at a time and think about what is the most important and urgent for your practice and for your business of your practice and what is the most easily automated versus outsourced?
So things that are easily automated are lead nurturing drips via email, that once they're set up, they just run based on the triggers that you've set up. The things that are most easily outsourced are your lead qualification, your follow-up on those contact forms, your follow-up even on like late payments and things with existing clients.
But think about what are the top most impactful changes that you can, make a couple or just one, and then re-stabilize gathering enough data to make an informed decision about whether or not to do it, to go deeper, to change your approach and think about the qualitative and quantitative impacts.
So how many more leads are you getting? What's the quality of those leads that you really want?
But then also in addition to revenue and new client growth, you know, how's your sleep? How's your stress? How's your work-life balance? Is that the sort of practice that you set out to create?
And then reevaluate this process and make improvements continually throughout the year, and really bake that process of making improvements into your overall practice management.
Now Smith.ai and Lawmatics do integrate. As I mentioned, we don't need to provision us any license or anything we integrate via API so that when you sign up for Smith.ai, and if you're not already a client, you can get $50 off with the code lawmatics50, you can have your calls and chats that are handled by our receptionist immediately logged.
So the receptionist summary notes from recall, or the chat transcript in full that we handle on your website, logged into automatics, and we will create a new contact record for those potential clients so that the data entry tasks are reduced and eliminated, and that there's no, you know, kind of misspelling or typographical errors and that information is put in so that then you can trigger a workflow.
You can pull up that record when the consultation happens and it's on your calendar. And then just simply add to that existing record and take that, you know, lead into the status of a new client.
So the other nice thing is that not only is that logged into your system, but after a call or a chat, you're notified. So as you hand off these things, you don't lose touch. You remain in the loop because you're getting that ping that a call or chat happened via email, via text message or Slack, or if you're using a chat app to communicate with others at your firm, you can choose whatever channel that goes into.
We also can do calendaring and intake form completion through Lawmatics.
So those are services that are available to you. The integration is dead simple. If you have accounts with both of our companies, you basically just click a few buttons to connect, and then you grant access to Smith.ai to add information into your system, but we're not pulling out information. We're not logging in. So it is very secure.
So, thank you so much for joining us.
There are a couple resources that I linked to at the end of this deck, and there's an ebook. There's also the Law Firm Communication Guide, and I will show the first slide so that you can get the link to the deck.
You can, you know, view this recording any time.
If you'd like to listen again to it. Here is our contact information. We'd be happy to chat with you more.
And then just to go back to the very first slide so that you can see whoop, there we go— the link to, again, review all this information that we shared with you today on time we are finished.
Thank you so much for joining us, you guys.
Have a great weekend. Happy fourth.
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