In this week’s episode, Grace and Liel have a conversation about telephone intake with Cisco Adler from Digital Rain, a legal digital marketing agency specializing in PPC. Cisco has listened to thousands of intake calls over a period of 10 years, and he joins to discuss the best practices he has learned from listening to the best agents.
During this episode, they cover the skills a telephone intake agent needs to possess, the importance of training, and different methods to incentivize your intake agents; what to look for when selecting a call center to handle your intake; and how to hold them accountable for their performance.
After listening to this episode, you will have learned what it takes to implement a successful telephone intake process, the value of using scripts, and the benefits of leveraging the power of e-signing and automation to streamline your intake process and maximize your marketing return on investment.
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Liel: [00:00:00] In today’s conversation, we’re joined by Cisco Ad leader from Digital Rain. We talk about intake practices that maximize your return on investment, how to get a third party to effectively manage your intake. E- signing automation and the power of a box of chocolates. I’m Liel Levy, co-founder of Nanato Media, and this is in camera where we take no excuses for body intake.
Liel: [00:00:56] Welcome back to In camera podcast on today’s conversation about intake. We will be joined by Cisco Adler. Cisco is the president of Digital Reign, a legal digital marketing agency specializing in Pay per click based out of Huntersville, North Carolina. Coaching is one of the services. Digital reign offers to their clients. And if you’d like to find out more about digital reign, you can do so by visiting digitalreign.us.
Liel: [00:01:23] Cisco Thank you very much for joining us. And for those who are just getting to know you now for the first time, can you please share a little bit more about yourself and your background in legal marketing?
Cisco: [00:01:36] Sure. Well, first of all, thank you. It’s great to be here. One of the things that it’s interesting you say about intake coaching being one of our services that actually came about due to necessity because we wanted to make sure that when the lead came in, we had a good idea of whether it was a good lead or not. So I’ve been in this business doing paid search for about 10 years in particular, and prior to that was doing more landing page development and which is something we still do and working on conversion optimization, conversion rate optimization. Basically what we’re trying to do is make sure that when someone lands on a page from whatever source they come from, we want to make sure they take the action we want them to take, which is usually making a phone call to the office.
Liel: [00:02:26] Absolutely. And of course, I totally hear where you’re at because we’re pretty much in the same boat when I talk about my job in the agencies. OK. So we actually broke the lead. We now got them to convert. Now we need for their law firm to do a good job by handling that phone call or Web firm submission or whatever is the call to action that the prospects just completed and transformed into a signed client, providing that it meets certain criteria, which hopefully it gets tackled as part of the segmentation. And so chances are that they will have the right requirements to convert into assigned clients. And from what you’re saying, Cisco, you guys, we’re encountering that at some point like you’re doing your part. You were bringing quality leads to your law firms, but you were not necessarily re-assured that internally the law firms were doing what they had to do in order to effectively transform from lead into a signed client is not.
Cisco: [00:03:26] 100% percent. That’s exactly right. And you hit the nail on the head.
Liel: [00:03:30] Well, that’s I totally hear you. And I understand. So. Grace, let’s get right into it. Right. I mean, Grace Montealegre here with us, as always, thank you very much.
Grace: [00:03:41] Hey, guys. Thanks for having me. And thank you so much for joining us, Cisco. I really appreciate it. So I reached out to Cisco probably a couple weeks ago, and I kind of put it to him. I was like, hey, you know, I want to talk about intake, how to do it right. And, you know, the importance of empathy and a few other things. And I know you guys do PPC and you actually do it for at Gacovino & Lake. And so after seeing a jewel campaign that we ran, I realized there’s a lot that goes into intake within the firm, outside of the firm. And so many different parts of it. So as part of it, I wanted to ask you a couple of questions specifically. Let’s start with the first one. In your opinion, what is the definition of a successful intake and feel free to define or use whatever words you want. And let me know.
Cisco: [00:04:36] Well, I’ll tell you, the most successful definition is one where the firm gets all the clients that they want to accept. That’s the first clearest definition, I’m sure, that any listener would agree. But there’s really two sides and to a good intake. One of them is technical. And the other is the human component. And the technical side is the one where we make sure these elements are working together so that the intake agent can have a good, solid rapport with the client and not worry about whole times or worry about, you know, not clear communication. The phone system is breaking up again, hold times being a large one.
Cisco: [00:05:26] We want to make sure that calls are always answered alive and that if there is, there’s no hole time, there’s no music playing in the background, and the agents are able to answer questions without handing off the call or to a number of different people.
Grace: [00:05:43] That makes perfect sense. So you’re basically saying there’s really any intake? There are two parts, right? There’s what you guys can provide. And then what they can actually get done within the firm. If they don’t do it with the human component, along with the tools that they need. Meaning a phone system isn’t broken up, that they actually tested the phone number, that it goes through the right route. They’re not being left on hold forever. Those types of things. Is that essentially what you’re saying?
Cisco: [00:06:10] Yeah, yeah. We’ve heard that. We’ve heard system the Internet calls where it’s just horrible.
Cisco: [00:06:15] I keep coming back to the hold times just because that’s usually one that really gets on the client’s nerves of prospective clients nerves. And it also causes them to hang up. We’ve heard so many and again, we’ve listened to thousands and thousands of intake calls. And in so many cases, we’ve heard that when there’s a long hold time, whether it’s music or not music, then eventually somebody hangs up. And sometimes we’ve heard people swearing that, you know, that, hey, I won this hold too damn long or something, even a little bit more blunt to the point.
Liel: [00:06:50] Colorful.
Cisco: [00:06:51] Yeah, a little more colorful. Exactly. So what we really want to do is stress that you just cannot put people on hold. You can’t do many handoffs. You’ve really got to have somebody solid on the call that can answer their questions. Or if you need to do a live transfer to a lawyer, that it’s a fairly seamless transfer.
Liel: [00:07:12] Sorry. Sorry to cut you there. I’m just like I’m getting so much information here, Grace. And I want to start translating these into actionable things for the audience. What’s the ideal amount of rings that should pass before the call gets answered or by which ring or call should have already got an answer? Would that be two rings? Tree rings, four rings.
Cisco: [00:07:34] As short as possible. And what are the things? As soon as that call is answered, that intake person has to be able and well, we’ll get into a few different criteria that that good intake person possesses. But as soon as that call is answered, they’ve got to be able to clearly articulate the law firms name. And I know that sounds so obvious, but we hear a lot of times, especially when you’re outsourcing to a call center or to an intake call center, that somebody will completely fumble the name of the firm.
Liel: [00:08:07] Yeah.
Cisco: [00:08:08] And you guys know not every law firm is Smith and Smith.
Cisco: [00:08:12] There are some that have some pretty complicated names, but it’s something that really has to be practiced to make sure that it doesn’t sound like it’s the first time that that agent ever said the name before.
Liel: [00:08:24] Absolutely. It’s going. So we know a previous episode, we actually talked a little bit about telephone etiquette.
Liel: [00:08:29] Right. And some just some basic things to keep in mind as we are establishing that connection with the prospect client. And that will pretty much influence on the first impression that they’re getting from that first interaction they’re having with the law firm. And it all has to do right so much with the tone of voice like you can feel when someone is actually smiling and being cautious over the phone or when they’re just rushed. Right. And that obviously comes out when the way that they actually point to pronouncing those first words, whereas it’s “Good morning or good afternoon. Smith and Smith law firm. This is Tanya. How can I assist you?” Right. So you’re making sure that those things are pronounced and addressed with a purpose from this first sensor we already know like phone calls need to get answered as soon as possible, preferably by a live agent. And we say preferably Cisco because at some point in this conversation, we’re going to have to address the fact that sometimes we do need to rely on a call route or things that will help us get calls eventually to the right first ones. But ideally, number one, get those calls answered fast and make sure that that first interaction is clear. And it’s not rush and it’s by a capable agent on the other end of the line. Love it.
Grace: [00:09:47] So I think that perfectly takes us to the next question. Right. So what are the skills in your mind, Cisco, that an intake agent should possess to be able to do what you’re saying?
Cisco: [00:09:59] Yeah, and there’s a number of them. And let’s start with your intake agents are your brand. So you can be doing billboards, you can do on TV, you can be doing all sorts of digital marketing, anything. But if when somebody calls and they have a bad experience with an intake agent, you can throw all that out the window, because the only thing they’re going to remember is that conversation they had. So these are the main this is one of the main ways that people are going to judge your firm is on that intake person and how they answer the phone and how they’re treated. So they also have to understand how important these calls are. This is not somebody just calling because they want to set up a time to change the floor mats in front of the door. This is somebody who is a potential client, which is extremely important to the law firm. And you have one. It’s an expensive acquisition. Clients are expensive. Whether it comes from paid search, whether it comes from years of SEO, whether it comes from TV. These are very expensive clients to bring into the office.
Cisco: [00:11:09] And not only is it expensive, but there’s also a huge opportunity cost if you don’t get them to convert into an initial consultation and ultimately a client up. I don’t know if you guys are seeing the movie Glengarry Glen Ross. But there’s a line where Alec Baldwin holds up a stack of leads and he says, you see these leads, these leads are gold to you, but you’re not getting them because you would basically screw them up. Well, these calls are gold and intake agents have to understand that.
Cisco: [00:11:44] They have to know that and really feel it because this is a huge decision for the prospect. It’s likely one of the biggest they’ll ever make in their lives. I mean, think about it. You buy a house, you can sell it.
Cisco: [00:11:56] If you don’t like it, you buy a car. You can sell it. Whereas in many cases, the lawyer you pick, the law firm you choose, can have long-lasting repercussions that you really can’t change in the end.
Cisco: [00:12:09] And so the intake person has to be aware of what a large decision this is to the prospective client. And so they need to be empathetic. They need to be knowledgeable. They need to be able to follow a script without sounding like they’re following the script. And they also need to be able to go off-script if necessary. And they have to be patient. Curious as well. So there’s a lot of skills that go around being a successful intake agent that are way beyond being an answer or a call answer person or receptionist that this comes from the top.
Cisco: [00:12:47] This is a cultural message that comes from whether it’s the attorney or whether it’s the director of the firm or whoever is in part in charge.
Cisco: [00:12:57] They have to understand that they’ve got to educate and train their intake people to look at these calls as if they’re gold.
Liel: [00:13:06] What you’re seeing here is so powerful, you’re almost kind of like saying that not just the ticket agent is the gatekeeper. But it is actually kind of like the deal maker or breaker for the law firm. And so it’s such a powerful position.
Liel: [00:13:21] So what would you suggest for law firms where they’re currently practicing a system in which whoever is available is picking up the phone? What changes would you suggest for them to implement in order to ensure that that they get better results from any kind of marketing activity that they’re doing and increase their chances of actually converting callers into to sign clients?
Cisco: [00:13:44] Well, training, obviously, is one of the biggest steps. And, you know, I used to actually work for a college. And one of the things that I would always say is the admission counselors who were vastly underpaid and are vastly underpaid in nearly every university or college are some of the most important people in the entire organization. And especially in a college where you’re looking at attendance as being one of the biggest generators of income and revenue. So it’s no different with an intake agent.
Cisco: [00:14:25] They need to be appreciated. They need to be trained. And if there’s a way to compensate them in some form or other, then by all means, do it. But make sure they understand how much those calls are. I wish I wish every time that phone would ring right before they answer that says this call cost two hundred and fifty dollars.
Cisco: [00:14:49] Treat it as such. Just because again, I think that there’s that sense out there that it’s just a phone call.
Liel: [00:14:56] Cisco. That’s exactly what we do with our clients. We actually write when they’re getting a lead, a call that came from their Google account. There is a recorder that announces it. This is a Google at school. Mind you, you’re probably I mean, obviously, that’s where it ends. This is a Google at school. But what they what that message translates to, hopefully, anyone picking up the phone is that that call is potentially costing them hundreds of dollars depending on the market. Right.
Liel: [00:15:25] And so absolutely. I totally agree with you. There are so very, very, very good points brought up.
Grace: [00:15:32] So I want to add something to that, because, you know, I love adding things from non-legal side. Having worked in retail in some other industries for many, many years before this, one thing I try to tell everybody, anybody, any employee of any firm, particularly with intake agents, because they would be I would call them customer service. Right. Customer service sales. You could call them whatever you want to call them. But they deal with the client. They deal with the prospects. They deal with people directly. The people that deal with all of your prospects, your clients directly. They need to be told and reminded that the people that they take care of are who pay their paychecks. So if you don’t do a good job, guess what? You might not have a job tomorrow. Right. Because of your own fault. So as a law firm, if you give them the tools, you give them the training, you take care of them and you have the right tools and skills in that person to do that job. It’s up to them to do it right up to you to follow up. But if they don’t just have to remind them, in my opinion, because this is something I always did as a manager, even in retail. If you don’t stock the shelves, if you don’t answer it properly, if you don’t take care of the people coming in that door, guess what? You’re not gonna have a paycheck tomorrow.
Cisco: [00:16:49] Right.
Grace: [00:16:49] Because. It’s just the way it works, right?
Cisco: [00:16:53] Yes.
Liel: [00:16:54] And Cisco kind of like falling on the tradition. But we started here about trying to define intake. Is part of the sales process or is it actually customer care, client relations? A little bit kind of referencing what you were saying. This was that we should incentivize and recognize good in takers, people who are delivering there. I guess it kind of ties back to that notion that intakes are your closers. And so like you’ve said, but if you’re failing at intake, all of that goes out of the window.
Liel: [00:17:30] And so your intakes are your closers. And people who are doing that well should definitely be recognized for. And I don’t think that an incentive program should be out of the question. I don’t know what you guys think about that.
Grace: [00:17:44] Grace, I think that you should always incentivize your best people, keeps them happy, keeps them motivated. And the most important thing I think to remember, at least from my perspective, is not everyone is motivated by the same thing. So while it was one person might be motivated by a gift card to Publix or something like that, another person may be motivated by time off being able to leave early. You know, there’s a lot of different ways to motivate people. That’s I can have a whole conversation on motivation and human resources that we don’t need to get into right now. But you know, Cisco, I don’t know what you think about, you know, what have you seen and what have you experienced?
Liel: [00:18:20] Are law firms incentivizing employees. And are those who are doing it seeing better results?
Cisco: [00:18:26] I’ll be quite honest with you. I’ve seen very few that do that. And the ones that do I don’t think that they’re probably incentivizing enough as a matter of fact. We actually started incentivizing occasionally.
Cisco: [00:18:40] We would if we hear a really good call or hear somebody is really good, we’ll send you a box of chocolates in their name just because they’re helping us succeed.
Cisco: [00:18:50] And so were the ones in some cases that recognize that extra mile that they’re going to because, you know, if they’re not doing their job, then we’re not going to have a job.
Cisco: [00:19:04] We’re going to end up losing the client because the client’s going to go, oh, the leads are garbage. Well, it’s not the leads that are garbage.
Cisco: [00:19:11] It’s the intake. That’s not happening. And so we want to make sure that if somebody is going above and beyond that if they’re not being incentivized by the firm, they’re being incentivized by us. And we’re actually talking about doing a monthly who is the best intake or who did the best intake and send them the gift, whether it be a again, a box of custom chocolates or something like that, just to show our appreciation for going the extra mile.
Liel: [00:19:39] That’s really cool.
Grace: [00:19:40] That is that’s awesome.
Liel: [00:19:41] Very, very cool idea.
Grace: [00:19:42] So I think that actually takes us perfectly into kind of the next two questions. I’ll address one but I’ll speak about the other one as well because they’re kind of hand-in-hand. Right. Is there an added value of handling intake in-house. And you know, maybe we’ll ask it separately, but when should intake be sent offsite. So they’re kind of hand-in-hand, like I said. Sure. What are your thoughts, Cisco?
Cisco: [00:20:07] Well, you know, being able to handle intake in-house, it’s it really depends on the quality of your intake person. Once again, if you have a great agent who’s in-house, then that person is going to probably be your best proponent. They’re going to be able to answer questions. They’re going the firm better than anybody. They’ll know if you take certain cases, they’ll know the hours.
Cisco: [00:20:33] They’ll be able to text the address to the prospective client, which we’ve heard a lot of cases where they couldn’t do that in an offsite facility. So there are a lot of positives to that. And if you have a in-house dedicated person, then there, like I said, they’re going to know more about the firm and they’re also going to be able to do warmer, quicker handoffs to an attorney if the need arises or to an investigator if the need arises, depending on the type of case.
Grace: [00:21:06] Right. Because they’re right there, essentially right there, close to the source and able to either pass it off or handle it because they’re part of the corporate culture for lack of a better term, I guess, right now.
Cisco: [00:21:17] That’s a great term. And also, they better be able to pronounce the firm business. That’s who pays your paycheck.
Grace: [00:21:22] Yeah, that’s a big deal for us. You know, Jack Govino in Lake, Jack Govino is spelled with a G, not a J. And yeah, I completely get that. It’s definitely been an issue that we found with the answering services. Unless you pick the right one, you know, which you know, that’s I guess falls into the next question. When should an intake be taken offsite or sent offsite?
Cisco: [00:21:46] Yeah, that’s a really good question. You know, if you don’t have the resources. Maybe your solo practitioner or maybe you just haven’t found the right person. There are some really good options out there that are in the legal space that specialize in just legal intake. And I think that’s probably one of the really important aspects of it. If you’re using a firm that does intake for medical intake for other areas and not just legal, then they tend to really not. They don’t sound like they know what they’re doing.
Cisco: [00:22:22] In many cases and we even had one recently with one of our larger clients where within a few days we advised them to find a new outsource client or outsource didn’t take stress center. Just because the first thing was happening was there was a hold music as soon as you called. Then you received a person who answered the phone and then they said, okay, let me transfer you to one of our intake specialists. Now there’s more. Hold music and then finally you get to somebody who can actually start taking some information. So this whole process might have been a minute and 30 seconds, two minutes and there were more hang-ups. And actually, one guy just was irate. He’s like, you don’t even care about me. You put me on hold all this time. Your firm doesn’t even care.
Cisco: [00:23:12] And so because they were using this off-site, further off-site intake center, you have people that actually think that your firm is not that you don’t have your stuff together. And so it’s really important that just like in-house that there’s live answers, live connect’s when necessary, minimal whole times. And then there’s also the technical side where you’ve got to have integration with your intaking case management software and systems, and you have to have an in-house agent who really cares about the client and about helping the firm sign more cases.
Cisco: [00:23:47] And then you also have to make sure that the calls are being routed properly and tested. And then you should also do what are called secret shoppers. You know, where you’re actually placing calls and hearing how the intake is done, because you can’t assume that it’s all being handled the way you want it to be and do them several times because some agents are a lot better than others. And if there’s a weakness, you want to make sure you bring it to their supervisors’ attention. And so it’s really important. And even more difficult to stay on top of an in-house earn-out of a house agency. But they can certainly be very good and very helpful, especially for overflow after hours, et cetera.
Liel: [00:24:32] So I’m going to play you a little bit on the spot, not on the negative side. On the positive side, Shozo, this whole thing is that Leo and I created was specifically to have no bullshit discussion. Right. So as part of that, I like to provide real people and vendors that we use at Gacovino & Lake. And if you could talk about, you know, or just mention we don’t have to specify the ones that you’re talking about that didn’t do the right job. Let’s talk about the guys that did and do it. Right. Right. Like I’ll tell you two the ones that I actually three of the ones I know of, which I think you’ve probably dealt with as well. Right, to legal intake. Professional services, guys. Great. Call integrity. You know, since for a long time we’ve used them Gacovino & Lake. And another one that I know of is alert communications. Very I mean, wonderful people. They do a very good job as well. And the third that I’ve worked with is the legal conversion center. So those are three that I know of, you know, do you know of any others or could you recommend some as well?
Cisco: [00:25:38] All right. I would recommend and this is, again, my own opinion. I’m not paid or given any kind of incentive. But, yeah, we really like alert. Yeah.
Grace: [00:25:51] Well, you know, they’re the ones I mentioned. So that makes me happy.
Cisco: [00:25:54] Yeah. They tend to be the ones that are usually the quickest in terms of picking up.
Cisco: [00:26:00] They tend to follow the script very well. They are very professional, empathetic, and we’ve just had very few problems. And the rare times that there is an issue that needs to be brought, somebody’s attention, they’re extremely responsive. And so that’s as important as anything because it’s not open. Nothing is always going to be perfect. We all know this.
Cisco: [00:26:23] And if there’s any issues, alert is one that addresses them quickly. So we definitely like alert. And if we have a client who’s not using and using, maybe a local call center will give information about alert or if they’re using alert, will, you know, sigh and hi 5 and be glad that they are because they do a great job.
Grace: [00:26:49] And it’s great to know. And it looks. I think I jump questions because one does kind of follow the next. So as part of this answer that you gave. So what should law firms be looking at when choosing a call center to handle their intake besides, you know, maybe a little more in depth if you could give us a little cheat sheet, I guess.
Cisco: [00:27:08] Sure. Well, you know, and this goes back to the secret shopper kind of concept, which is your. You’re responsible whether you’re the managing attorney at a firm or whether you are the operations director of a firm. Ultimately, the quality of intake comes down to you. So whether it is in-house, as we talked about before, or whether using a call center, you have to stay on top of them and you have to be listening to the calls. It doesn’t mean you’re listing every single one, but you’re listening to a percentage of them and you’re giving feedback if you hear any problems. In the in the intake. And that’s ultimately where it comes down to. There’s no secret that a firm can follow. It really says this is the holy grail. It’s just our calls being answered quickly. Are the reps knowledgeable? Can they go off-script without a major problem? And are they empathetic if they hit those criteria… Then you’ve got a good chance of having a solid intake. And then if they can get alive, for example, if there’s a question about a case type, they need to understand what case types the firm takes. And I know that seems so obvious, but we hear all the time where somebody calls with a work comp issue and it’s maybe a firm that doesn’t take work comp. They want m.b.a.s. They don’t want work comp. And if you have a firm, if you have an intake center that doesn’t know that and they take a work comp, then that person is going to get wait and wait and wait and think that they’re being taken care of. They’re going to get a call back the next day from the firm saying, oh, I’m sorry, we don’t take work comp cases and that’s just going to frustrate them and put a bad taste in your mouth. So you just really need to make sure that you have really good communication with your offsite call center and that they know exactly what you do and they stay on top of it.
Liel: [00:29:07] Just to go back to what you’re saying, that you have to have your call center partner well-informed about what case types are you interested in, your practice areas and so forth. And so, you know, we were talking about what are the qualities that you should be looking at your call center, your partnering for? Obviously, it’s got to be a shared responsibility of you giving the right information. But I guess one of them and one of the ways that you can probably tell a good call center from one that it’s not that’s great is potentially the way today onboard you into the into their services by making sure that they’re actually proactively getting out from you old information. Would it be fair to say that a good call center will actually make sure that they take every step from air and to minimize errors like that, like moving forward callers that are of no interest to the law firm? Or is that is it more so kind of like the responsibility of the law from hiring to lead that part of their relationship or making sure that, you know, the call center is actually getting the right information? Who should lead there?
Cisco: [00:30:12] Well, first, the call center has to know, obviously, what the client covers. But a good center, a good call center, they have that all setup. Like you said, that’s part of the onboarding process when we take on a new client. One of our onboarding processes is that we go through and have a kickoff call where we find out exactly what they’re looking for, where they’re looking for the leads and on and on and on and on. And so a good legal call center will be doing the same thing. They’ll be looking at what are the pre qualifications, what questions should they be asking first? And there’s no reason to keep someone on the line for 15, 20 minutes if they don’t qualify for a tour or if they weren’t injured in an MVA. Those are the questions that a good call center will have answered quickly. So don’t waste some base time. And that’s a really, really a key piece of it. And then another thing, and not everybody takes advantage of this, but it’s something you do want them to have, is the ability to do an E sign or a DocuSign or whatever you want to call it. While the callers are on the phone and get them to sign up or send them over the information you get them to sign, because if somebody signed up on the phone, whether it’s your in-house or whether it’s offsite, then obviously you’ve negated a number of steps, a number of follow-ups, and you now know that you have a solid client.
Liel: [00:31:41] That’s actually a very good point that you’re bringing up Cisco and one that Grace and I were we’ll be diving into one episode. The near future is really understanding what’s the value. An E-sign brings to a law firm and an opportunity to increase retention that it generates over that thought process that exists also, and it’s quite prominent amongst law firms who are valuing more the in-person appointment at the office. Despite some challenges, does that can mean to the prospect? So just very quickly touching on that, what your advice be to a law firm who will only sign clients after they’ve actually been to their office over considering implementing on a signed process that could potentially help them bring better results for the. Yeah, for the practice?
Cisco: [00:32:39] Well, I think probably it’s as simple as it doesn’t hurt to ask is it that they may decide, they may say now I want to come in first, I want to meet you. All I need is a lawyer. It’s going to be representing me. I want to see that you have a solid office, whatever it may be, but it certainly doesn’t hurt to ask. And there’s no reason not to at least see if you can. And then once they’re signed, then have them come in and then you again, you have that loyalty that they’ve already signed. And that’s one thing that I wanted to touch on really briefly is especially in digital marketing or the era of marketing, whether it’s billboards or whether it’s TV, there’s not a whole lot of loyalty yet.
Cisco: [00:33:23] Your firm hasn’t earned that from the client unless it’s a really great referral. So anything you can do to move them down the funnel as quickly as possible is going to help you ultimately close and get that case sign. So that’s why, again, you know, we’re big proponents of e-signatures and getting people signed up as quickly as possible.
Grace: [00:33:47] So I want to mention something. To your point exactly. That people want to be spoken to and communicated to in the way that they want to be communicated to, and that includes signing contracts.
Grace: [00:33:58] And so, you know, signing this is what you’re doing, right? You’re signing a contract. You’re signing up with a law firm. So if they want an e-signature and like Cisco just said, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Right. I mean, you get asked a million different times, a million different ways. How do you want me to communicate with you? You want to text message? You want to cold-call. You want a voice. What do you why you want to email? So why can’t we do the same with signing a contract? You know, you want an e-signature. I mean, that should be the first question you get asked because there you go. You’ve got the client retained. And then like you said, like Cisco said, you can bring them in the office if you so choose. At that point or if that’s what they want. But so.
Liel: [00:34:35] So what you’re saying, Grace, is that, you know, for those who are adamant believers that they do their best when they actually get the client into the office, you can still keep that intention of bringing the client in. You don’t necessarily need to compromise on that. You’re just getting their signature and their commitment upfront when you have them on the phone. Before that, they hung up and potentially continue considering other law firms in between the time that they finished up the conversation with you and they scheduled the appointment with you. You were kind of basically taking a step towards eliminating the chance of that lead flaking. And I think that’s a good takeaway that law firms that have decided still not to re-integrated e-sign software to their practices should consider like you’re not eliminating that personal connection, that personal interaction, that opportunity to welcome the new client to your law firm and have that personal conversation to enhance that relationship that started over the phone. You now just have the assurance there’s some commitment that was agreed on that first call when the lead got qualified. Is that correct?
Grace: [00:35:48] Again, I mean, I signed my home mortgage four years ago all online. So, you know, I would I preferred not to go in. Like, I don’t want to go in to sign anything anymore. I don’t even want to go into shop. So if you give me a way to sign online, I’m actually going to like you better. And if you want me to come in later, I’d probably tell you no.
Grace: [00:36:08] You know, so if that’s the way I want to communicate with you, that’s how I want to sign up with you. Then let me do that. It’s not taking away from your firm. It’s not taking away from your values or your methods of communication or your method of doing things. It’s just adding another option.
Grace: [00:36:24] I mean, and that’s basically what Cisco is saying as well. Right.
Cisco: [00:36:27] Right, right.
Liel: [00:36:28] So I would like, if possible, Cisco, just because it feels like we’ve kind of turned the conversation around into how great the world can be when you have a fantastic, very capable intake organization behind you to support your firm. But for those who decided to keep it in-house and they’re struggling. Right now, because they have not yet find a way to improve and get better results. Cisco, what would be some notes that you could share for these kinds of lawyers or practice managers during these situations about how they can implement the script to better guide dairy intake staff and get better results? Right. So there’s the training part of it. But I really like that you’ve talked about the value that script that scripts add in terms of keeping making sure that the sequence of steps is being completed and that’s very important and relevant information is being obtained. So how could that be implemented?
Cisco: [00:37:28] Right. Well, one of the things I’m going to do right now is I’m going to flip it and send it over to grace, because Grace is with PERSIST, as you know.
Cisco: [00:37:37] And that’s one of the key elements that PERSIST, was built around, was helping automate these processes that you don’t necessarily have to have a superstar in or out superstar performance.
Grace: [00:37:50] Yeah. So thank you, Cisco. I appreciate that. For those of you don’t know me and don’t know. I also am the V.P. of marketing for Persist Communications, which is an automated lead communication system. And that is probably the most important thing you’ve. Process, process, process. Implement it. And as much automation as you possibly can, which is why I said that about signing. If you have where the phone calls, the emails, and text messages are all being automated in the background. And the only thing your agent has to do is answer that call. When that connects, you have literally eliminated 90 percent of all of the tasks, all the issues. They can continue working. They can be doing whatever they have to do. And then all they do is pick up that call. So automation is key. And to me, it always has been. You know, I’m I’m a technique.
Grace: [00:38:41] So when it comes to PPC and and what Cisco does, specifically landing pages, conversions, you can do as much as you’d like on all of that. You just spent thousands of dollars on all these leads. You just spent thousands of dollars on PPC. Back to his main point. If your intake process isn’t down to a science or automated in with some in some fashion, whether you persist or not, CRM. I mean, there are so many tools out there to automate. But if you don’t automate something or at least a large part of the process, you’re stuck. You can have the best people in the world and your best agent can’t dial out more than 80 numbers a day. And that’s not to mention the tasks that they have to do with emails, text messages, follow-ups. I mean, there’s so many different things that an intake person ends up having to do at the end of the day. The more you can automate, the better off you are. I mean, correct me if I’m wrong, Cisco. I mean that to me, that pull part of it, automation is key.
Cisco: [00:39:43] Oh? Absolutely. Absolutely. Because, you know, otherwise things get dropped. And the one thing you don’t want to be doing is having somebody sending out emails or text messages while they should be answering the phone.
Liel: [00:39:55] So so basically Grace what I’m hearing here is if you can have some software help you get in front of what’s a priority every single time. And whenever you’re getting in front of that priority, you have the right information in front of you.
Liel: [00:40:10] So you can make sure that you’re recovering and going through everything that you have to complete in that particular transaction. We got a phone call or a follow-up that you making for an existing client. And so that software can help you automate and can help you remain very effective and always on point with handling what’s important at the right time. Now, for those who have not yet reached the point where they’re actually implementing it, using sort of software, hopefully, this conversation is starting to get them to consider and seek out for options and alternatives that could definitely improve and make. They’re not they’re not just our life easier, but actually help them generate and maximize their return on investment, on any marketing activity that they’re doing. They still need to set up some systems and processes in place so that whenever calls are coming through, their staff will have some sort of guidelines. Right. To make sure that they’re completing some important tasks throughout those conversations and those need to be completed consistently. It’s mind-blowing at times saying we’re screening up for intake calls. How inconsistent, for instance, is the gathering of contact details sometimes happens at the beginning. Sometimes it’s happening by luck before they actually hang up. And so that comes to see how a little structure there is in the process and also how many other things that would have been important that were left out. And so I think creating those steps, it can be as manual as a word document that then gets printed it and it’s really right sitting on your desk. But at least it’s something, at least as a start. Automation is the goal.
Grace: [00:41:44] Yes. And like you said, it’s so important to make sure that they know what they’re supposed to be saying in that they’re doing it right. I mean, that’s what Cisco’s been saying this whole time. Right. I mean, he can build his beautiful landing pages that convert like this. But if they’re not following a script or they’re not asking for contact details at the beginning, asking them again at the end to confirm. How are you gonna get a hold of them again, you know? Did you really confirm it? Did you check that? And if there’s no processes or systems in place, you’re not helping your intake. People either do their jobs. How, Cisco, how do you think a good way to monitor your intake service provider? I know you mentioned a few things as we’ve gone along. But you know, your outsourcing.
Grace: [00:42:28] You may have some intake in-house, but if you’re outsourcing it, how would you monitor them? Like, how do you? Because I know you guys provide wonderful reports on all the work that you do in PPC, even the recordings from Digital Rain. Just so you guys know, you know, I’m not getting paid by Cisco, but I love them and I love what they do. So I’m definitely plugging him. I’m just letting you know. So, you know, with what Cisco does, he provides us with a report. Is that something that we can expect maybe from an intake service provider?
Grace: [00:43:00] I don’t know. Like, can you tell me a little bit more about how to monitor them?
Cisco: [00:43:04] Yeah. And it all comes down to is. Ask them.
Cisco: [00:43:10] Ask them to hear different phone calls that have been placed and that have been answered. Ask them to provide you with reports and also listen to the report yourself. Listen to the calls yourself. Because ultimately you are responsible for the quality. If the quality of the calls coming in are not where they need to be, then you need to make a change. So do the secret shopper. Ask hard questions. Try and trick them. See if you can get them to tell you something that you don’t do and then stay in close touch with the supervisor that you’re working with. Because almost every call center will assign you somebody who is your account representative, and that’s somebody that you can call upon. If you’re hearing incorrect, that’s something you can call upon. If you’re hearing calls that are incorrectly handled or poor information is given out. So, again, listen to the calls.
Liel: [00:44:09] And I think that should also be applicable for those who are doing intake 100 percent in-house. You do. You still need to hold accountable. You need to test.
Liel: [00:44:18] The only thing I think it’s very important to consider for whenever you’re implementing this mystery shopper calls and you’re running tests and reports and so is just do it fairly. Do it consistently. Let know your team. How are you going to be conducting these tests? Be very, very consistent that it’s so that doesn’t backfire on you and demotivate staff and team that people are getting targeted and a bunch of other things that can come out of you. They directed this testing your staff. If you have an open and transparent policy about how is it that you conduct mystery shopping and make sure that everyone gets their turn out being shopped and stuff. I think if you can only see good results out of that. Cisco, I can only thank you so much for everything that you’ve shared with us. I think this has been an amazing conversation being very, very valuable. Thank you for sharing with us all of these many years of experience that you have in legal digital marketing and particularly in the intaking paper.
Cisco: [00:45:13] Well, thank you. I really appreciate it. Appreciate the time. Thank you, Grace. Thanks for inviting us. And thrilled. Had a great conversation and enjoyed it very much.
Liel: [00:45:23] All right. And for those of you who are listening, please remember that if you’d like to hear a little bit more about Cisco and digital reign, you can connect with them at digitalreign.us. Cisco. Thank you very much. It’s been a pleasure. My pleasure. All right, Grace. So that was a great interview and a fantastic opportunity to peek into Cisco’s Adlers from digital reign ideas and thoughts on intake. And so what are the takeaways now that we should be considering? And anyone who’s listening to this podcast who has a role in intake process should consider? I think Grace initially like just to get these takeaways sessions started. I think the first thing is like taking take seriously. Create a rule that it’s specific for this, move away from a culture where anyone and everyone should be answering the phone, giving take the seriousness of the deserves. What do you think Grace?
Grace: [00:46:15] I agree. Create the position. Create a role specifically for intake is the lifeblood of your firm.
Liel: [00:46:20] Absolutely. And so at one point in the conversation, we talk about incentivizing intake rates. And I think you’ve had some great ideas. So in which ways are listeners, people who manage intake staff could incentivize their team to do a great job.
Grace: [00:46:36] So as part of the interview may have may or may not remember, we were talking about incentivizing intake staff, as Liel was mentioning. And it doesn’t have to be about money. Right. It can be time off. It can be. It could be. Things, you know, a small flinch. It could be food. It can be.
Grace: [00:46:54] I mean, really, the sky’s the limit. But people are motivated by different factors. So don’t forget to incentivize your intake staff, the ones that do a good job. You know, the ones that help you, that, you know, they contribute to your bottom line, so contribute to their happiness.
Liel: [00:47:08] I love that grace. And also as an agency owner, like a really, really like the practice that Cisco and his team have of actually taking the initiative themselves to recognize the team members within law firms that they work for.
Liel: [00:47:23] That caught their attention and they failed. Help them, their digital marketing agency succeed in delivering great results to their law firm partner.
Liel: [00:47:34] So for all of our listeners who are selling to law firms, this is a great, great takeaway that we can all learn from. So, Grace, we also talk about bringing on outside provider to help us. So what are the things that we need to keep in mind whenever selecting a third party to take care of intake for us?
Grace: [00:47:54] So first and foremost, are they specialized and legal? I mean, that’s super important. As Cisco mentioned during the interview if they can drop the ball. Right. Another thing that is super important to remember is, you know, how long is the call picked up? You know, the number of rings, you know, are they had left on hold. You need to be testing all of that. And another one that people don’t really think about. But the super important is referred, you know, are they referred by a trusted vendor or they referred by another firm that you do trust as well? And finally and to me, this is the most important. It may not be for others, but I find that this has been of cosmic importance in terms of getting the intake done and done properly and quickly. Do they integrate with your systems? I know that was a very mild point that we talked about, but I think it’s important to mention in the takeaway.
Liel: [00:48:47] Absolutely. And it’s something that we’re going to as part of this series of episodes where we are delivering our toolkit for setting up your law firm for success. We’re gonna have to touch on it at some point. Is having your CRM integrated today an intake process and then that’s yours. And also integrated, too. Then the next step, which would be case management. Right. Once that lead gets converted into a signed client and is particularly if you’re gonna have a third party doing it for you, well, you want to make the exchange of information as seamless and error-free as possible to ensure that important information doesn’t get left behind. Am I correct? Grace?
Grace: [00:49:24] That’s exactly right. I mean, that’s a big part of it, right? The intake provider, can they handle it? And will it all be seamless from the client’s perspective or prospects?
Liel: [00:49:33] Right. And another thing that Cisco mention and that we can all very well learn from how many of these grace intake services out there are doing and implementing is the use of scripts, understanding the process of navigating through an intake call, and making sure that the right information on the right questions get asked at the right time so that everyone can remain efficient. Yet we can really engage and capture the caller in the event of this being a phone call. So, Grace, moving on to the final part of the conversation that we’ve had with school, let’s talk a little bit about e-signing an outlaw? What are our takeaways?
Grace: [00:50:11] Is a major takeaway and really can boil down to one sentence, leverage the power of e-signatures, automation, and software. There are tools out there to help you. You must use them. Why? Because it’s just providing another method in which these people want to communicate with you anyway. In other words, here’s a contract online. Sign it. You’ve taken it and eliminated one more step in the process for them. They can still come in and see you. They can still talk to you. But this way you are almost guaranteed that you’re going to be able to take care of your client properly because they are a client now.
Liel: [00:50:46] Absolutely. And you’re also it’s almost fair to say, eliminating the chance of the client walking away of a potential appointment that he may have booked or she may have booked with your law firm and then changed her mind.
Grace: [00:51:00] Never show up and.
Liel: [00:51:02] Correct and never show up and then potentially losing that lead. Obviously, a signature will mean that there is now more commitment coming from your end. And so it’s powerful from that standpoint. And I think the other point that we brought up as part of that conversation is that attorneys who have not yet practiced the benefits of signing, you shouldn’t really be afraid of it or feel that it’s going to disturb the way that they’ve been handling their business up until now. They can still continue with the process of bringing and getting the clients to come to the office to have that more personal and engaging conversation. But now you’re just getting to that point. Having more reassurance is in place. Right. And as you’ve said, Grace, it’s a matter of asking if someone is very resistant to the idea of signing an E document, a bill preferred to do it in person. Well, at least you gave them a chance, you gave herself a chance to widen up the chances of securing that lead. And you can still have the system of bringing or the procedure of bringing your leads for in-person meetings at the office. Correct?
Grace: [00:52:04] That’s exactly right. It’s just one more tool in your intake arsenal, I like to call it.
Liel: [00:52:10] Well, Grace, with that, we come to an end of another episode of in-camera private legal marketing conversations.
Liel: [00:52:17] Thank you very much for listening. And we’re looking forward to talking to you again next week. If you like our show, make sure you subscribe, tell your co-workers. Leave us a review and send us your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org We’ll see you next week.