“Hello, hello? Can you hear me?” That’s any caller’s worst nightmare, but unfortunately, it could be happening at your law firm every single day. And while there is not one single answer to how to get telephone systems right, in this week’s conversation, we explore a few that can make this nightmare go away, and in fact, increase a lot the productivity of your team.
Grace explains why some of the most efficient telephone systems are the ones that are already integrated into the solutions in platforms you are very likely already using and how to expand their capabilities and efficiency with some simple tweaks.
Now, suppose you are in the privileged position of receiving hundreds of calls a day from new and existing clients. In that case, you have to get super-smart in your call distribution so your team can stay focused on handling cases as opposed to untangling the spiderweb that your telephone has become.
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Liel: [00:00:00] For lovers of any size, all dropped calls, emails or social media inquiries represent a missed opportunity. And for every missed opportunity, there is a financial cost to your business. I’m Liel Levy, co-founder of Nanato Media and this is In Camera podcast where robots and humans keep the ball in the air.
Liel: [00:00:55] Welcome to In Camera podcast, Private Legal Marketing Conversations, Grace. Welcome back.
Grace: [00:00:59] Thank you, Liel. How are you today?
Liel: [00:01:01] I’m great, Grace. You know what? I was telling you about it last week, and I can report back that today is my first day after we held our first webinar under Nanato Media Grace. And it was fun. I really enjoyed it. It was it was nerve racking, I must say.
Grace: [00:01:18] Right.
Liel: [00:01:19] It’s different. It’s a new thing. I know. I know you’re laughing because you’re a webinar expert. You’ve been doing these like for ever, like ten years of experience conducting webinars. And I can get why you would think this is funny, but it wasn’t funny at all yesterday, right around this time when I was getting ready to connect. So, yeah, that’s my news.
Liel: [00:01:40] How about you?
Grace: [00:01:41] We got some different news coming up? You know, with all the new things that we have going on with persist and we are looking at opening up something different coming up. Hopefully.
Liel: [00:01:51] I know Grace, then we cannot wait for you to be ready to actually share news about that, because I must say, I had just listened to a sneak peek of it and oh, my God, is this a game-changer and super exciting. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I know there is still plenty to talk about, other things that have to do with persist. And so let me just kind of make an intro for those who did not join our conversation last week or haven’t listened to our episode from last week. We initiated a conversation about the M software for law firms. And those are the case management software. The customer relations management software. The lead management software. Right. And these are all super important. And we talked about the benefits and the cons of using one platform for everything. But the one common denominator that all of these systems have is that they need to interact with your telephone system. Right. Whether you have them living all under the same umbrella or you have them scattered out across different platforms and different providers, they will still all have to connect to your telephone provider. And Grace, I’ll be honest with you, telephone systems, particularly VoIP, is something that I just struggle with, right? I cannot just find one that is extremely reliable and efficient and that you can just be using it on your desktop and then swiftly switch to your mobile device when you need it. It kind of like just something that doesn’t work right. At least in my experience. And believe me, I used to be one of the first fans ever like fifteen years ago when the VoIP technology came out. I was a huge advocate of it. But I just now when I’m trying to see and implement this at scale and such, I just see something that is quite not clicking well. And so I really want you to help us better understand how a modern PBX system should work and how do you actually use it as a strength instead of a glitch in your communications.
Grace: [00:04:09] Definitely. So, you know, we’ve come across this question, right, a couple of times, and particularly me being in persist and we are essentially a PBX phone system. It’s a question that I’ve been asked over and over again. And actually, I just got off a call last week with filevine and we were they were discussing communications as a whole. And when we talk about PBX, right. That’s a private branch exchange. That’s what it actually stands for. Then you talk about VoIP. Right. We hear all these terms that could be very confusing, right? Well, I mean, that’s generally what I hear.
Liel: [00:04:46] Yes, absolutely Grace. I mean, honestly, it’s just I mean, PBX for me, it’s a very familiar word because coming from the hotel world, we actually had a department that it’s called PBX and it’s basically the telephone operator, very manual work of course, using systems and such, but it’s still kind of like that one person taking all the calls and then distributing them to all many different departments. Right. When you talk about a hotel, you have so many different people, so many different departments, you have the guess, right? So the organization needs to be flawless. Now, of course, you’re talking about a different type of feedback system. And so I’ll let you go on.
Grace: [00:05:22] I’m actually talking about the same thing, Liel, and that’s the problem. I think that most people can’t make the connection to what our old phone system used to do and what the new phone systems are capable of doing in addition to other things. So when I talk about PBX, I know we’re saying PBX, but that’s just one component of a communication system. When I talk about phone systems and communications in general, I like to refer to what’s called unified communications. Unified communications is what we’re all trying to achieve when we have a business, right, the first thing they ask you is, what do you need? You’re like, OK, I need this, I need that, I need a mailing address. I need this. It’s interesting to see that most people forget some of the two most basic things, a phone number, which requires a phone system of some sort, and a website. So when I talk about unified communications, I’m talking about everything in the communications system with anybody. So that includes your video communications, your chat, your voice, your live chat and talk, your bot chats, and even presence. Right. So sometimes we see all these presents, information on our phones. It tells us, oh, this person’s available. So when you have unified communications, that is the key. But how do you get there? Right. You need to look at what your requirements are and you need to look at different pieces of the puzzle to figure out what is going to work best for me.
Liel: [00:06:52] Ok, I hear you loud and clear, Grace, now, because obviously there are different models here where this can be applicable. Why don’t we start from small and then go big. Small law firm, let’s say, two, three, four team members. What does PBX have to do here? How can it help them better manage their operations?
Grace: [00:07:15] So let’s start there. What I suggest to most people and you know, obviously I want everybody to have persist. Persist as an inbound and outbound dialing system that includes your communications having to do with emails, text messages, and even chat bots if you have it integrated with your CRM. So for me, I look at everything as a holistic thing. But let’s start, like you said, with a small business, somebody who just started. I look at two things do you have a Microsoft Office product or do you have a Google G suite product? And generally speaking, you start that from there. Why do I start from there? Because Microsoft has phone licensing. It has basically the teams and you can also connect that to hard phones like yealink phones or Polycom phones, and you can have a cell phone, which would be teams. So if you have a Microsoft Office office, I suggest that that’s the route you go because you already have an enterprise agreement and it will be cheaper for you and make the most sense to have an integrated phone system and unified communication system with your emails and all of your office products. Does that make sense?
Liel: [00:08:33] 100 percent makes sense, Grace. I do agree that it just makes easier going back to our conversation from last week. Just find what integrates best with what you already have. Now let’s hear what are the options for when you have G-Suite.
Grace: [00:08:46] So when you have G-suite. It actually has Google Voice. So it has all of the same feature sets that you normally look for in a phone system available to you online. And you just look for if you do absolutely need a hard phone, you would look for a hard phone that actually integrates with Google Voice and it has the options to forward to your cell phone, forward to voicemail, just all the same phone options that you would have in something like what most people are used to RingCentral. Right. Something like RingCentral, which a lot of people are very comfortable and have seen and used. This is something rather that would integrate with your full office. So if you have a G suite, it will integrate with your Gmail, with your calendar, with your phone system, with your phone numbers, forwarding campaigns. So that’s why, just like you said, Liel, what we talked about last week, anything you have, you need to look at what you currently have and then see what integrates with that. And that includes your phone systems.
Liel: [00:09:45] So here’s my first question with regards to this and where I can start seeing, you know, sometimes things just falling and crumbling into a disaster here.
Liel: [00:09:55] My experience is like when you start talking, you take your Google Voice and then you forward the call to another system. Right. So that then that new telephone line where you’re actually forwarding calls can actually receive these calls. I get this feeling that it’s just like the connection is just not there. It starts generating a delay right from the point where Google actually receives the call to the time that the actual call gets forwarded. I get the feeling that there is already someone there on the other side of the line whose phone already kind of like gave them the connection tone twice, which means that potentially anywhere between five to 10 seconds have passed. And up until now, your phone may have probably not even rung once or just the first time. And so that is the main issue. I see. How can you prevent that? Like, what’s the best way to just keep that all together?
Grace: [00:10:54] Ok, so test, test, test, just like you do with your emails and you split A/B test everything you need to can regularly test any call forwarding, any phone numbers you have out there, anything that you have routing to anything else. It’s a computer system for lack of a better term, for you to be able to understand this. It is a process and computer system that is telling it go from here to here.
Grace: [00:11:19] So there will be just like any phones, right, when there’s a potential issue or the phones are overloaded or the network. Right. Like sometimes the network I can call you Liel on your cell phone and sometimes they won’t connect. Because we’re on two different networks.
Grace: [00:11:37] Yes, OK, I get that testing is important, you want to make sure that you can experience yourself what your income callers are going to be experiencing themselves, Grace. So here’s the thing. My question. The second part of it would be, is it better to just port whichever number you want to use, whether it’s a vanity number, whether it’s, you know, the number that you first got through Google Voice or some other software and got super excited, printed it in your business cards everywhere else. And now you’re kind of like realizing. There is a delay like I’m trying to forward calls from here to there, and it’s up, up, up, up, up, up, it’s just not working. Should you just take that number and port it out to another platform which is actually going to be your phone system, rather than try to take something from another platform and get it to integrate somewhere else? Am I? My question makes sense.
Grace: [00:12:39] OK, yes, I do. I understand it very well because that’s that’s been a question we’ve been asked. Right. Should I port my phone number or should I, you know, keep it in my system and just make sure I test it right. Generally speaking, it depends. And it’s the same with everything, right? It depends on how you currently run, how many phone numbers you have, how many you’re actually forwarding. In general, I would suggest that you forward as few numbers as you possibly can. That’s in and of itself is important because you want the phone numbers to be the phone numbers that actually receive the calls, the more hops, potential delays, and connections that the system is making that more, you could potentially have issues, right? It’s just like any time that you have something trying to talk to something else, there’s going to be a potential integration issue on anything. And it’s the same with forwarding a phone call. If you’re forwarding something to something else, you better know that that works or report the number.
Liel: [00:13:41] OK, great.So good example. Keeping it clean, keeping it simple, starting up, just starting to scale. You can potentially still find a solution that you can, as you said, integrate from these existing platforms you’re already using. Why incurring to an additional expense? You can potentially leverage what you already have and build up a system from there. Now, let’s talk about bigger organizations, right? What would be the right path to go there? And so I would like us to follow that same model. Right. Let’s suppose that this is the same law firm. It’s just grown up bigger now. They need more lines. They need to be able to handle more calls. They need to be able to better route calls. What are the right solutions that they should not start considering now?
Grace: [00:14:22] So as funny as it sounds, it’s the same kind of considerations just now. You need to look at something that will allow you to scale. Most of these systems do allow you to scale. It’s going to be more expensive. It’s going to be more, you know, more lines, more phone numbers that you have to purchase. So when you first do this, when you first put in and implement whatever it is that you’re going to use, you can then look and see if there are other communication system, unified communication systems that integrate with your current systems. And that includes something like persist. And that’s why I can talk about persist, because our system is a phone system that integrates with whatever phone system you currently have. We can use the numbers that you have. We can use the same phone numbers that you have and it will show up that same way on the caller ID for your clients. That’s the goal, right, always is to have the phone number that they recognize or that phone number that you have on a landing page to show up on the caller ID so that when they call you back, it comes back to you, comes back to the group that you assign to it however you want to do it.
Liel: [00:15:30] Let me stop you there, because you’re talking about something super important, like I’ve had conversations about this a million times and it just always has a different perspective and I always get different answers. Here it is Grace. Now that we’re talking about scaling up, you’re potentially getting and making calls out of state. Now what you’re thinking, OK, you want the telephone number to be the same one that they potentially dialed or they’ve seen on your website or somewhere so that they can recognize it. Now, here is my point. I think people are not so good anymore at remembering telephone numbers. Like if I just don’t actually get an actual name of the caller, which, you know, smartphones now, do they recognize it from your contacts or from your emails. And they actually display that name. Even they say maybe. And then the name of the organization, there are people who say, you know what, because you don’t want to take that chance that the person will or not recognize your telephone number, you should aim for then showing a telephone number that is on the same area code that that person is, because then there are going to be most likely to answer it as opposed to a telephone number that could be your real telephone number, that may be from out of state and then decreases the chances of people actually answering that call. What do you think about that?
Grace: [00:16:48] So I got to tell you, in the legal world. That’s actually not a good practice, and even in the real world, I’d say that it’s not necessarily a good practice. Why? Because people are used to getting phone calls from different locations, I’m used to getting a phone call from pretty much any state in the U.S.. Even it doesn’t matter to me and nowadays, but that that’s just one small, very small consideration, the major consideration of randomizing or changing the area code is you can potentially get into a gray area of spoofing.
Liel: [00:17:25] It’s a good point, Grace. I hear what you say. So basically your answer is that, you know what? We’re in a world in an age where people are used to seeing telephone numbers coming, calls coming from different states. So I settled with that and I actually think it’s quite logical.
Grace: [00:17:42] Good, good, yeah, because I personally, you know, just ethically speaking and personally, it doesn’t come right out and tell you in the ABA handbook that of marketing that you’re not allowed to change, you know, the area code necessarily if you have an office in that location, you know, as a law firm. But if you don’t and all of a sudden you’re putting this information up, how are you supposed to you know, you’re claiming that you’re in Fort Lauderdale with a nine five four, but you’re not in Fort Lauderdale. So it gets very gray. And I personally suggest as far away as you can get against it.
Liel: [00:18:18] Point taken.
Grace: [00:18:19] So, you know, when you look at the Unified Communications, you also do want to see not just your phone system, right? This is your phone system or the phone lines integrate with your CRM. Does it integrate with your email? Does it integrate with your chatbot? Is there something that you can look at that can do all those different things? I, you know, obviously, I want to say go ahead. Let’s just go buy persist because he can do all of those things for you and it could give you the phone numbers that you want in the phone numbers that you already have and do that for you. But I always tell people, no matter what you look for, it be very clear in your mind what processes you’re trying to either streamline, fix or scale. Those are your three requirements. Are you trying to streamline, fix something or scale it?
Liel: [00:19:07] Yeah, that makes sense, Grace. So, Grace, why don’t you talk to us a little bit more in detail? As to really like the functions that persist will do for you. So you’ve explained. Yes, it’s a PBX system. It’s a telephone system. It manages your incoming and outgoing calls. Give us a little bit more of an example here so we can understand really how it actually impacts your operation and how does it actually helps you better manage both case scenarios, the incoming and the outgoing.
Grace: [00:19:41] So I actually give you a recent campaign we did using the inbound and outbound scenario, so we set up a campaign using essentially an IVR, which is a phone tree of selections that, you know, one or two, one to four questions that we may ask you kind of automatically. And to qualify you, we do a lot of mass torts, right? As you know, Liel. So in Mass tort.
Liel: [00:20:05] That’s right.
Grace: [00:20:06] There’s a lot of times you want to prequalified people and not necessarily spend the money or the time on the phone because most of them actually would prefer that. Same with people. Same with the agents. If you can prequalify somebody not just through a form, but on the phone because they made the call, that’s what we’re doing. So we have a phone number that went out, the phone number on the landing page. They call that number and they went through a prequalification. Do you have or did you have ovarian cancer? Did you have this yes or no? Yes or no? After four questions there, immediately transferred to internal or agents or call center of the law firm. Or if you have a call center that you have assigned to your firm, for whatever reason, it can transfer it to them. Now, if you do it internally and this is something that you already have connected to persist as a campaign. That person that’s calling you incoming, calling you. You will get a notification of what the phone number is and what campaign they’re assigned to. So then all you have to do is input that information into whatever CRM case management software intake form that you need. Now, let’s take it all the way around, that person is qualified, signed up, done, now you want to follow back up with them on the outbound side, right? This is a campaign you need to call back. Call them back. Make sure that they sign the agreement or you’re calling them back for medical records or whatever. Doesn’t matter. Persist now takes that phone call, quote-unquote, in that campaign, and it follows up with them in a sequence of events. So every day until they sign or do take the action that you want them to take, it’s going to call, email, and or text them. You want to get them on the phone, automatically connects with an agent inside of your law firm that has persist open and running. And boom, they get the pop up in the case management software, the person’s name, where they are in the campaign, and they just continue to work in their case management software, not in persist in their case management sofrware.
Liel: [00:22:14] All that sounds beautiful music to my ears, right? Super seamless on the spot. Right. It allows you to keep track and actually do it with volume. Right. Because when you initially think and you say, well, I have like probably five potential cases that I need to follow up on, you potentially say I may be able to do this, you know, just through a checklist, just make myself set some reminders, maybe use the CRM to remind me about a few things and stuff when you’re doing this with 20, as little as 20. Right. I mean, of course, there are law firms that are handling hundreds of these per week, but even already at 20, it’s easy to let the ball drop. And the problem of letting the ball drop is that each time he drops, you’re potentially losing a case. And so there is a lot at stake. Now, Grace, let me start you with a few scenarios just so you can help me better understand how how persist actually tackles different things that happen. Because I mean, life is not as wonderful always in the sense that you send a text message and people are just replying back at you on the spot as you would wish them to do. So you start with these qualification questions and you’re not getting a response right, to none, like ignored what happens next.
Grace: [00:23:26] So at that point, the phone call, it will tell you, like, again, this is automation, right? So if they select the qualifications or don’t select the qualifications, it will then transfer to, again, whatever phone number that you’ve assigned to that campaign. So it could be internal or it could be external. Does that make sense?
Liel: [00:23:48] Yes, so we’re basically, you know, if it doesn’t if you’re not being able to qualify for your preferred method, which is this tech survey, it would actually connect them directly with an agent. Would that be waht you say?
Grace: [00:24:00] Yes.
Liel: [00:24:01] OK. Excellent. Now, what happens if this lead potentially is interacting and engaging with you after hours? You don’t have, and yes, they answer to the questions. You know, they already talk with someone, but you don’t actually have a 24 hour call center to help you out. How can then the team in the morning when they come in, sign up logging in to persist, know that, you know, there’s someone that is ready to talk to them and connect to them? They should be connected with them. Does persist help you organize yourself in that sense, like, now, OK, these are the first skills that need to be made today because they actually came during the out of office hours.
Grace: [00:24:42] So at that point, again, it boils down to the process. So persist is automated completely, meaning as soon as the status is assigned to a call of any kind by the system, meaning I need to call you tomorrow. The system will do that as soon as someone logs in to persist, so there is no thought or organization required from the intake center’s perspective, it’s all automated. So they get added immediately to the queue to be called the next day.
Liel: [00:25:15] Music to my ears is just simple, and it helps you stay on top of what matters the most. Grace. So thank you so much for sharing so much about not just persist, but in general, some of the considerations you should have when selecting a telephone system, either if you’re just getting started or if you’re ready to scale up. So, Grace, give us a few takeaways to wrap this up.
Grace: [00:25:41] So my first takeaway is look at all of your communications and how they interact with each other right now. It is important and you can see potentially how much you can save. So to me, that’s take away number one, look at all of your phone systems, what you have currently and all of your communications and how they interact.
Liel: [00:26:02] Grace. Let me give you take away number two, because I know you’re going to have a great take away number three. So let me insert mine here in the middle. So when you say yours, you know, we can finish up on a super high note. But mine is actually, you know, make sure that whichever route you go, you can actually also use text messaging through your telephone system. I think it’s such a powerful tool, Grace, that gets underused. I think a lot of the communications moving forward with clients are going to transition, particularly after that first initiation. That first call they then can very well be managed through text messaging. So 100 percent do not ignore that component. What do you think, Grace?
Grace: [00:26:46] A thousand percent. That gives me my take away. Number three, as a matter of fact, think about unifying your communications and that includes text message and chatbots. You need to be there in communicating with your clients the way they want to communicate with you, not the way you want to communicate. Right.
Liel: [00:27:05] And but then, of course, you want those communications to get to you in a way that you can manage when you’re available. Right. Because if you need to have five different tabs open, so you don’t miss out on something. Right, one time with your telephone system open in another time with your chatbot open and then another tab for your text messaging platform open. It’s a nightmare. It’s a nightmare. So it a hundred percent makes sense to have one consolidated system where you can actually keep and monitor and just be put up in front of those who are actually engaging with you. No matter the mode. You’re there, nothing changes for you. You’re just communicating through different channels. But you’re still doing it from the same place without having to flex or change anything from your end.
Grace: [00:27:56] That is exactly the point of persist, because you go in your CRM and you see all the activities that have ever occurred with that individual text messages, emails, chatbots. Doesn’t matter what communication you’ve done, you will see it on the contact record, at the contact record level, on every contact record that’s been touched by persist. That’s the key.
Liel: [00:28:17] Grace, thank you so much. And for everyone who is interested about how could persist help their law firm, streamline the communications and improve their clients experience, please feel free to reach out to Grace. You have her contact details through the episode notes and through In Camera podcast as well. So, Grace, thank you so much for such a great conversation. And we’ll be back next week. That’s right.
Grace: [00:28:45] Yeah. Thank you Liel.
Liel: [00:28:47] We didn’t use our sound effects. Let’s click on something.
Grace: [00:28:50] Yay!
Liel: [00:28:52] There you go. OK, enough of that.
Liel: [00:28:56] Grace, have a great rest of your week. Take care.
Grace: [00:28:58] You too, Liel.
Liel: [00:29:02] If you like our show, make sure you subscribe. Tell your co-workers, leave us a review, and send us your questions at: email@example.com. We’ll see you next week.