Your law firm’s success depends on the number of prospective clients you attract, and the journey of converting prospects into clients starts with your intake; get it wrong, and there goes your law firm.
Nick Werker from Answering Legal joins us for a conversation that explores the difference between having a sound telephone system against a bulletproof intake process that keeps your quality prospects transitioning into clients, your team productive, and your law firm growing.
Nick revisits the importance of rapport and mirroring the caller’s tone. As expected, we discuss the importance of empathy, but most importantly, how to deliver empathy naturally and engagingly instead of a scripted empathy that does nothing to create trust.
If you want to learn more about how you can retain your best telephone agents, effectively qualify your callers, and stop missing out on potential clients, hit play now but first, be sure that someone is monitoring your law firm’s telephone line.
Resources mentioned in our episode:
Send us your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Liel: [00:00:00] According to research by the American Bar Association, three percent of prospects, according to a law firm, give up before the phone gets answered and 11 percent of the calls last less than 10 seconds, which tends to be clients hanging up on voicemail recordings or IVRS. I’m Liel Levy co-founder of Nanato media and author of Beyond se habla español How Lawyers Win the Hispanic Market and This Is In camera podcast where we believe answering calls should be as easy as one to three rings. Welcome to in camera podcast, Private Legal Team Conversations, Grace, welcome back. How are you today?
Grace: [00:01:07] Good. How are you, Liel?
Liel: [00:01:09] I’m great Grace and super ready to start with these conversations because this week we also have a guest. And I think it’s going to be lots of fun Grace because it’s a topic that both you and I love. We haven’t talked about it in quite some time. So without further ado, please do the honors of introducing our next guest so we can get started.
Grace: [00:01:30] All right, everybody. So we are extremely thrilled to welcome Nick Worker. for a conversation on practice management and legal intake. Nick is the marketing director for Answering Legal, a virtual receptionist service dedicated to helping law firms provide superior customer service to their clients. “Never miss the new client” is Answering Legal’s motto. Nick is obsessive about all things marketing, content, conversions, and automation. Nick, welcome to in camera podcast.
Liel: [00:01:59] Nick, welcome to in camera podcast. How are you today?
Nick: [00:02:02] I am great. Thank you so much for having me. I’m already having a ton of fun. I know nobody can see me, but I’m like fist pumping over here. I’m here to have fun.
Liel: [00:02:11] Well, it’s a pleasure having you, Nick. Tell us, where does this podcast find you?
Nick: [00:02:16] So I am in Long Island, New York, home of the recent flooding on everyone’s news channels and abandoned cars on our highway. But everybody is everybody that I know at least is happy and healthy and just dealing with remnants of a flood. But happy to be here. I know you’re down in Texas, right?
Liel: [00:02:36] That’s right. I’m in Texas. Grace is in Fort Lauderdale, so we’re we’re all across the nation right now, but we’re glad to hear that you’re well and safe. So, Nick, you know, based on what we just read on your bio, all of the things that you’re obsessed about, I think you’re in the right place because we’re obsessed about all of that here, too, right? Grace, I think, you know, you cannot find someone who’s more enthusiastic about automation than Grace here. So our conversation today is about intake, but I’ll let you just go on about automation for one minute so you can get it out of your system and be 100 percent focused on talking about intake. Because I think for Grace separating intake with automation, it’s like there is no way of doing that, but we’ll see.
Nick: [00:03:31] So I get a one-minute tangent. Ok, here we go. I am a big process guy and obviously that goes along with automation because I just want to make sure that the process gets replicated and a lot of human error gets involved in processes. But a successful law firm is a law firm that has a process for all the things that they do. They have a process for hiring, they have a process for going to court, they have a process for paperwork. But obviously, my expertise falls within the legal intake category of that, and you need to have a process for your legal intake for each type of law that you’re going to handle, right? So if you’re a if you’re a law firm that handles personal injury and criminal defense, or you’re a law firm that handles bankruptcy and landlord-tenant, you know you need to have two separate processes for both of those things. And for me, that starts at where are your phone’s ringing? Who is handling the phone call? Who’s answering? How are they answering? Right. And that’s even before you get to to the actual intake that you’re going to fill out. So make sure that you have a phone that you know somebody can get to at all times. And I know that sounds so obvious, right? But a lot of law firms I talked to are like over the weekend, you know, I don’t forward my calls to my cell, you know, just rings in the office… Have a process for that.
Nick: [00:05:03] So you want to know where the phone is ringing at all times, even if you know if you have no ability to answer it, you should know where at least it’s going to ring. So my recommendation for that I’ll get into in the future. But having a specific script for legal intake will just ensure that you are finding out that the customers that you’re getting or the callers that you’re getting are the right customers for you. They’ll be able to pay you, you’ll be able to help them. And if they don’t meet the criteria, you’ll at least be able to point them in the right direction. But if they do meet the criteria, you need to know all of that stuff in order to help them anyway, because a lot of law firms are really bad at the sales part. So how do you get good at sales? Is you find out, you ask questions and you get that information so that you can tell them, Oh, OK, so you’re a divorce, a potential divorce case you’re looking to get divorced are the assets between the two of you more than one hundred and fifty thousand? You’re you’re finding out two things right there. Finding out if that person has enough money to pay you and you’re finding out, you know, what type of work you’re getting into. Are you going into a high, high-asset divorce? I’m talking already too much, Liel. You shouldn’t have given me free.
Liel: [00:06:15] You’re first of all, you’ve already passed your minute, OK?
Nick: [00:06:18] I know.
Liel: [00:06:18] And you’ve already answered my and you’ve already answered my first question. Well, that’s actually that’s actually great, because I think basically, from what you’re saying, I was going to ask you, what do you think are some of the basics of legal intake? And a lot of what you’re hearing here is, okay, you said already you need to have a reliable phone system. And I think we’re going to talk a little bit more about that in just a moment. But the other thing that you’re talking about here is basically scripts understand very well what is the process of each conversation, what is the information that needs to be obtained and in what order? Also, very importantly, as you were going on your example,
Nick: [00:07:00] I know I go on forever,
Liel: [00:07:03] And that’s great. That’s exactly why we were so happy to have you in our podcast because we know you’re super passionate about it, and there’s a lot that we can learn from this.
Grace: [00:07:12] So I’m sure you’ve heard this one before. There’s always some kind of objection, right from the law firm saying, Hey, but I do this, why do I need that? And that kind of thing, right? So my next question is a little bit loaded, right? I answer all my own phone calls. So why do I need any kind of answering service or anything like that? I mean, it comes right to my cell.
Liel: [00:07:33] Yeah, I’m the lawyer. I can handle it.
Nick: [00:07:36] So this is honestly one of my biggest what I would say are hurdles or barriers to the sale. But as really as paranoid as this sounds, your cell phone is not infallible. And oftentimes, and I’ve experienced this in my day to day is like, you go to call your friend or you go to call your partner, whether that be professional or or, you know, your personal relationships and it’ll go directly to voicemail. And sometimes I’m like, “Oh, that’s weird. Their phones dead or they’re on the other line or something like that.” And I call them back one second later, and they answer. And then I think to myself, “That was strange.” And I’ll say to them, you know, I just called you a minute ago, is your phone dead? You’re on the air. What was going on there? Like, I have no idea. I just went straight to voicemail. And you don’t see that the missed call came in from somebody. When that happens. And listen, I’m not an expert on on how cell phone providers run their infrastructure, but I do know that that happens a lot and I do know that there’s again, a lot of human error when it comes to just. Like trying to retrieve messages and phone calls and all that, so if you answer all your phone calls, that’s great because I provide just a support system the same way that you have a voicemail where if you, for whatever reason, you know, forget your cell phone or this, that the third you answering the call is great.
Nick: [00:09:04] But if you don’t answer, it goes to your voicemail, right? So instead of that voicemail, whenever you don’t answer or can’t answer, I have a system in place that will let your phone ring three to four times. And if it goes unanswered or or it or whatever, have you whatever excuse right, then it forwards over to my service and we answer with your, you know, your specific greeting intake protocols message sending all that stuff. But there’s just no way I promise you, if you’re one person that you’re answering all of your phone calls, it’s just it’s not possible. And I have heard this from thousands of attorneys. I answer my own calls. I’m like, That is great. My service is going to be 70 percent cheaper because I’m not going to be answering all of your calls. I’m only going to be answering the ones that you miss. And by whatever miracle, I get all these emails thanking me, Oh, you were so right, I was missing these calls. I got 20 percent more cases last month. That’s not a mistake. I’m like, OK, you know, I told you so, but I don’t actually get to say I told you so I just try to grin and bear it. But that’s my spiel.
Grace: [00:10:12] So I have a lot to add to that, actually, because I don’t know if you know too much about my actual background, but I’m a CEO of PERSIST Communications, which automates calling, emailing, and texting. And that is one of the things I tell everybody is you don’t know if you’re missing a call, how do you know that? And if you’re not tracking the call number, you’re even worse off. So you’re losing tons and tons of potential business and your clients that you currently have are going nowhere, potentially as well, because I do know how phone systems work very well and it’s exactly what you’re saying from one second to the next, you don’t know. And not only that, but take it a step further, and a lot of these clients remember they’re in pain. Some of them don’t have money. Some of them have certain issues, so their phones might not work after a certain time. They may not work because they didn’t pay their bill because they didn’t get paid until that Friday. So everything to your point, Nick. That’s exactly right. And I totally agree on all your points because that’s exactly what we’ve run into many, many times as the law firm and even on the software side, where we have to constantly tell people, this is what you have to do. You need to make sure that you track everything and everything goes somewhere and that you regularly check where it goes. So tell me your thoughts on that, Nick, because I feel like I know you have a lot. You’re nodding along with me because I’m sure you have a lot to say about that.
Nick: [00:11:40] Grace, I am going to clip everything that you just said and put it in a mass email and send it to everyone I’ve ever spoken to in my life, lawyer or not. And it’s it’s sort of validating to hear that like, you’re kind of right, right? Like, you know, I can make assumptions. All I want, like one of the things I run into is a lot of lawyers love Google Voice because Google Voice is free. It has some really great features like if somebody leaves you a message, a voice message, it’ll transcribe that message into like a text message for you so that if you’re in court, you can read it. You’ve got an idea of what’s going on. But Google Voice, because it’s just wi fi based, not really based on any sort of like real cellular data is really prone to shove a lot of calls into your voicemail, and you don’t really want that because nine times out of ten and this is real numbers back this up. This is what I do for a living is nine times out of ten callers are not leaving you a voicemail because of what Grace just mentioned. They are in pain. They need help. Right now, some of these people are just getting arrested. You know, they’re waiting in a holding cell, trying to get a hold of a lawyer so that they can get out. You know, maybe it’s wrongful. Maybe it’s not. But everybody’s entitled to due process in this country. Thank God. But if they’re calling you and it’s going straight into your voicemail, not only are you not seeing it and if you’re not tracking it. Listen to Grace. If you’re not tracking it and you don’t even know, then you’re worse off. But this is not scare tactics. I just I’m encouraging you to get your stuff together for PG listeners out there.
Liel: [00:13:22] I actually I actually want to follow up to that question. And so, OK, Google Voice is not a good idea. So what’s the right set up that a law firm should have in order to maximize client conversions?
Nick: [00:13:37] Well, if you’re asking me personally, I love a business voice over IP because it gives you so much power and control over your phone system, it’s almost uncanny. So a lot of voice-over IP companies I run into will have a mobile app that you could put on your phone so that you can control where your phones are ringing, no matter where you are. So you leave the office, you forget to forward your phone to wherever you want it to forward to the click of a button boom. You’re all set up and your phone is ringing where it’s supposed to be. And they also have a lot of reliable and robust features so you can log in. It’s really not like a phone company outage if it goes down, but they also give you a lot of it’s it’s sort of I keep saying the word robust, but there’s more call forwarding features when it comes to like a business voice over IP system. So law firms are tricky, right? Because you have business hours, but a lot of the people who try to call you are calling you outside of business hours because that’s when people have free time.
Nick: [00:14:39] You know, nobody’s calling to get divorced at 1:00 p.m. on a Wednesday because they’re probably at work. Nobody’s calling to, like I said, you know, hire you because they got arrested because like most people get arrested, you know, late at night or on the weekend. It’s a sad thing, but that’s the nature of the business that we’re in. So the call forwarding is huge because when you are out of your office, you want to be able to forward that phone to wherever you are so that somebody is answering it. And I should back up more, right? So always have a plan for how you’re going to answer your phone if you know you’re in the office all day and you’re not going to leave. Great. You got a desk phone that it rings on. Answer it the same way every single time. So if you’re the law office of Liel Levy, you should answer. Good morning. Good afternoon. Thank you for calling the Office of Liel Levy. How may I help you today? After that, have a plan?
Liel: [00:15:37] I like the sound of that. I yeah,
Nick: [00:15:40] I’ll be a receptionist.
Liel: [00:15:42] Yeah, I’ll become a lawyer just so I can have Nick answer my phone calls.
Nick: [00:15:46] You would be a great lawyer, Leo. You. You got the knack for just helping people, man. And I want people to always have a plan for what they’re going to going to do, not only with their phone calls but once you answer it because it’s like, “Hello, what do I do?” After that? You know, I always say this, Liel, I’m a broken record. I’m sorry, but you want to mirror what the caller is giving you emotionally, right? If they’re calling you and they’re like, “Oh, Liel, I screwed up, man, I got arrested. I was doing one hundred and ten miles an hour in a thirty-five. They sent me to jail.” Well, you can kind of joke back with them, right? He’s been a little funny. He’s like, “Oh, I messed up.” You can be like, “Oh man, what are you doing that for you? Didn’t you see the sign.” You know? But if they’re really upset, you know, “Mr. Levy, I’m calling to file for divorce. You know, I’m getting separated from my wife. And you know.” then you want to sort of mirror that like, “Oh, I’m so sorry to hear that, you know? Can I ask you? I’m speaking with. Let me get your phone number really quick. I don’t want to lose you. Tell me what’s going on.” You know you. You don’t want to like a mismatch, right? Like if somebody calls you and they’re calling about a divorce, it’s not like “haha couldn’t stand her anymore?” No, that’s not funny to that person. I’ve listened. I have heard it all.
Nick: [00:17:06] Trust me and I get recordings of people that send me their horror stories just because they know I like to laugh and it’s just craziness. And that’s one of those things that will put your caller at ease, right? And make you seem more trusting. And then if you have specific questions that you ask like for illegal intake, it’s just going to make your process that much easier. And and a lot less awkward. So you’re not like Trump stumbling to find the words like I just did, but. It makes conversations so much easier, and I spoke to somebody yesterday who was his is a lawyer, coach, business coach for lawyers. And he was saying that a lot of lawyers have a lot of trouble. They did like a psychology study on lawyers trying to tell clients bad news. And you’re thinking like, these are warriors, these are gladiators, they go into courtrooms and they argue on behalf of people and they try to get results and their orators like they can just speak, but they can’t find the words to tell their clients this rough news or tell them that I need more money or something, what have you? And it’s because there’s such a structure in a courtroom for a lawyer, right? There are rules. They know exactly what they’re going to do when they’re going to do it. But they feel like there’s not that same level of structure when they talk to clients. So why not build yourself a structure where you feel more comfortable in order to have those conversations?
Liel: [00:18:37] So, Nick, I think actually I’m going to back to our character, something that you’re that you’ve mentioned here. Because I mean, I think we’ve we’ve talked about this podcast about empathy more than any other emotional skill out there. And what is interesting of what you’re saying here is, you know, that oftentimes people think empathy is something that you show when you want to express feelings of understanding sadness, right? That doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Empathy is also shown when you want to show other types of emotional support to the person that you’re talking to. No matter whether it’s happiness, sadness is it anguish? Is the excitement, right? And so I think it’s important to keep that in mind. Right. It doesn’t mean that if the person is not sad, empathy is out of the window because there is nothing to be empathetic about. It’s not limited to just one type of emotion. So I think that’s a good point that you’re bringing up in there and what you’re saying about bringing structure to your conversations. I think again, it’s very important, right? And it goes like it gets back to your idea of having scripts because you need to know what you need to get at the end of the call and where does that play in the bigger process, right? Like in sales, we often say that you’re always only going after the next thing, right? Your goal is not to land the sale in the first conversation is, but to set up the next conversation and always get to that point.
Liel: [00:20:17] Don’t leave just things open in the air. I mean, one of the saddest things that I see happening to law firms when I actually get to hear a phone calls from potential clients is that people call right. They have cases. They have cases. They’re asking questions about them, and then the intake person is not capable of guiding them through to conversion right there. And then because the person ends up saying something like, “Well, you know what? Yeah, thank you for your time. I’ll speak with my family or something. Or, you know, I’ll call you later if I do decide to move forward with this” Like, those are huge flags that are telling you there is a lack of reassurance or lack of delivery of information. There’s a lack of empathy. There’s been something missing out there that is basically telling you in capital letters, you’re missing this potential client. And what’s the saddest thing is that, you know, intake staff, oftentimes they just don’t. They just let the phone call go. Yeah, of course they’re even happier, right? I am happy that this conversation is about to end. Great. So of course, yeah, do call us whenever you’re ready. Perfect bye. Right? And it’s not the goal. That’s not the goal. And so I guess if you want to be able to create some sort of sense of ownership on your intake staff of what needs to happen with each call, that infrastructure needs to be there. So I’m just said all that to say that I agree with what you said. So let’s move on.
Grace: [00:21:53] Yeah. So so far as you can tell, we are all agreeing with everything you’re saying. And so, you know, I mean, this is validation to the extreme for all of us on this podcast. So it’s great it works out for all of us.
Nick: [00:22:05] Yeah, it’s it’s like a big Kumbaya firepit.
Grace: [00:22:08] That’s great.
Nick: [00:22:09] It’s a way of saying
Grace: [00:22:11] Bumping at the beginning is the right tone to start, right? Hey, we’re being empathetic towards each other and matching tone with tone, so let’s keep it going
Nick: [00:22:20] In our language. Yeah.
Grace: [00:22:22] So, you know, this is one of those things that it’s kind of counterintuitive. I feel like for a lot of lawyers, which is interesting because let me just ask the question and then preface it afterwards, even though that’s no longer a preface. So once they’ve set up their phone system and all that right, employees sometimes get this feeling that they may no longer need. They won’t have a job anymore because you’ve hired this external service, right? But how can actually doing that and hiring an answering service? Reduce your employee turnover because they can.
Nick: [00:22:58] I love this question, this is fun. Ok, so I tell everybody, and this is so funny because I used to be in sales here and I used to call law firms and I would tell receptionists why I was calling, you know, I’m calling. I am a part-owner here. I I’m calling on behalf of answering legal. I’d like to talk to somebody about, you know, possibly being your answering service. They’d say, like, why would I put you through? You’re trying to take my job. I am not. I’m like, “Listen to me. I am going to be the best thing that ever happened to you.” Here’s why. It’s because of all the things I said before is that nobody’s perfect. And. There. I can’t imagine, right being in a busy law firm and being like the one receptionist in charge of. Handling all of the stuff that comes in, right? Being in charge of answering the phone, professionally, doing the legal intake, patching it over to the to the attorney or to the appropriate person, scheduling next steps, doing paperwork, filing all of the crazy stuff that we ask secretaries and receptionists to do right? What if I told you that the stress that you feel is can all be alleviated because you know that no matter what happens if you’re busy doing something and you want to stay on task, you can let that phone ring for like one more second and then I’m going to pick it up.
Nick: [00:24:32] And I think a lot of the problem that I spoke recently to a very good customer of ours who was actually in a in a video testimonial and he was talking about it was so hard for him to keep good receptionist help in the building. They would stay. You know, I’d hire this one guy. He would stay for six months, then I’d hire a woman, should stay for eight months and I hire another person and stay for 10. And you know, I just could never get anybody to hit like the earmark. And you know, I want lifers at my firm. I want people to grow. I’m going to give raises and bonuses and things like this. And part of the reason is that he he never had our service in order to back them up. I just the amount of of work as you grow a law firm. It’s it’s and people underestimate this, right? Like, it looks pretty on the outside. Oh, that lawyer, he’s wearing a fancy shirt and he’s got a nice watch and nice shiny shoes, but they don’t know the tedium that goes into practicing law, which starts right. The lifeblood of of a firm is new customers. It starts with your phone calls. So can you reduce turnover by making sure that people feel secure enough in their job to not drive themselves crazy with the ringing phone and be able to focus on one thing at a time? Yeah, I think so.
Grace: [00:25:50] So I’m a big nerd when it comes to analytics and stats, so I’m going to throw a productivity stat that proves your point. And my point, and that is for every task that you stop doing, it’s going to take you 15 minutes to get back into the task and another 15 minutes to get focused on that task again. So every time you stop, it’s another 30 minutes that lost for the day that you could have continued working on and provided an answering service that would back you up as support so that you can stay on task per client per issue for whatever it is you’re doing.So that was just here.
Nick: [00:26:26] I hear two things when I hear you say that and thank you for that one. If you’re the owner of a law firm and you’re and you’re concerned about your bottom line, if you don’t want your employees to have to spend 15 minutes getting back into a task, you want me. And if you’re a solo attorney and you’re answering the phone yourself and you’re trying to get all your work done, if your phone rings three times a day, you’ve lost the time on the phone. That could have been outsourced, making you money somewhere else, and you just lost. Forty-five minutes, 15 times. Three. Come on, easy. So that’s a cool stat. Again, clipping this, sending it to everybody I’ve ever spoken to and known or loved Sonic.
Liel: [00:27:07] So Nick, that’s, you know, so far, we’ve shared a lot of information about the benefits of having a more reliable phone system and just taking precautions for not losing any calls. Now. Let’s talk also about the expertise that comes into knowing how to properly, properly do intake and create these scripts. What are some of the considerations that law firms need to have when they actually sit down and put together? What are the sequence of questions, steps, conversations that needs to take place on a phone call? How long should it be? How short should it be? How specific should it be? And I know that may that answer may have some variations, depending on practice areas. But just generally speaking, what are some guidelines that you can share with us?
Nick: [00:27:59] So I I love when people say it depends so and by love, I mean hate. So I won’t give you an. It depends. I will give you my my specific recommendations, right? My recommendation is that you carefully create a three to five-question legal intake script. Now you first, before you decide what the questions are going to be, you need to define what your goals are, right? What what information do you actually need from your clients in order to sort of give yourself the go ahead like that’s going to be a good client for me? Or what information do I need in order to convince them that I’m the right person to go to right? So I’ll give you my standard recommendations for criminal defense, personal injury, bankruptcy, family. Those are the those are the law firms I speak to all day, every day. For criminal defense. You want to know, OK, what’s the data, the arrest, the charge, the municipality or county that you’re in so that you know, whether or not you can even go to this court and your next court date? So here’s what you’re doing. When you when you do all that right, you’re finding out how recent was it. So is the statute of limitations up the charge? You need to know what is it? I’m sure that lawyers can say this better than I can because I’m not that good.
Nick: [00:29:19] But if the charge is, I don’t know, too low for you and you and you’re only do felonies well, then you’re going to refer it out, right? But you need to know what you’re getting into so you can prepare a proper defense. What county municipality is it in? You need to know if it’s in your area or your jurisdiction. Are you willing to go that far? There’s also different laws in different municipalities. So how are you going to prepare your defense in that way? And the next court date, do you have time to do it? And and this is where you can define your next steps with the with the the caller, right? Ok, so you clearly need me there on that date. Here’s how it’s going to go. And then you go into your sales process. So personal injury very similar, right? Personal injury is the date of the accident, the type of accident, the injuries sustained and something else. But here, what you’re doing with that essentially is you’re finding out the severity of the injury. Let’s move on to family, right? You want to know if it’s if it’s a divorce. Are there children involved? Is there a home involved and that you want to know the level of assets, right? And that will give you a good sort of fixture in is the person going to be able to pay you? How long is this process going to take you and how messy is it really going to get right? So you can tell right away if there’s low assets, there’s no children involved.
Nick: [00:30:38] You can kind of do like a no contested divorce, right? And you know that. But if it’s “oh man, there’s all these crazy assets.” So we got four kids and we’re fighting for custody, then you’ve got to go to family court and do the custody thing and then you’ve got to divvy up the assets, go into mediation, all this sort of stuff so that you can give proper quotes. But. You need to know, right, so if you have a specialty, say you’re in criminal defense and you only want to do DUI, you need to know additional questions, right? So cater your your questions to be well, did you participate in a field sobriety test? Did you blow into a breathalyzer? If so, what was the the back? The blood alcohol content of what you what you believe? See, I’m getting good. I’m back on my groove. And all of that is to say that you not only need that information in order to craft your defense, but when that person says something along the lines of, you know, why should I go with you? You can say, Well, I have so much experience dealing with people who are accused of DUI, who blew under a 1.0 who participated in a field sobriety test.
Nick: [00:31:48] And it sounds like that this falls into my area of expertise. I was just dealing with a guy last month and he came in. He thought there was no way we were going to beat this, and I was able to get him this thing reduced and he didn’t have to do jail time for this, and he had to go to this class for for this. And, you know, he participated in a 12 step fellowship and the judge was lenient. And as long as there’s so much reassurance that you can give somebody when you know what’s going on with them. And so people are like, What do I do with all these legal intake questions? Well, that’s what you do. That’s how you convince a customer to go with you is by really telling them and reassuring them that this is your area of expertise. You know what you’re talking about now, and I’m sure I’m answering something in the future now. Let’s talk actionable defining of next steps. How do you get that person to become your customer after that?
Liel: [00:32:37] Do you think there is a particular amount of time that intake calls should limit to?
Nick: [00:32:44] I think that when you’re on the phone, there is, and this depends on where you are in the country in my experience. So if you’re near me on the East Coast, the pleasantries don’t have to be as long when you answer the phone. You know, typically people will just sort of start telling you what happened and and you can kind of get into your intake questions in order to really glean the correct information from from from their their their needs somewhere else. I would say, where do I have good experience? I would say Louisiana. They want to talk a little bit about, Hi, how are you as everything going today? Oh yeah, I’m giving you a call because of this and you go a little bit slower. But should the intake last very long, though, I want to say that the intake, the asking of the actual questions and getting the answers should take about three to four minutes. But after that, when you’re going through your sales process, that’s when you have a real conversation with your customer, right? Because you’ve asked them questions, they’ve given you answers and you’re providing reassurance that could take as long to me, 10 to 15 minutes. So if you’re doing everything correctly, you got two minutes for a greeting about three, four or five for an intake, depending on how fast you are of a talker. I’m really fast and I will spit things out, and it’s OK to be different. You don’t have to follow anybody else’s cookie-cutter guidelines for you and then, you know, 10 to 15 minutes talking about how you’re going to help this person through their process and talking about payment and talking about actual next steps. When you want to meet, when you want to do a real, full consultation to sit down and what you’re going to do for them.
Liel: [00:34:31] That’s great Nick. And what what tips would you have? So we talked about empathy, a right, but what are other considerations that people should have to build a rapport, as you’ve said, depending on where in the United States you are. There may be a need to be a little bit more elaborate and engaging with your initial conversation to build that report that’s going to set up the tone for the actual intake process. So what are some tips, of course, empathy being one that people who are behind the phones can actually take to have a better connection with the people that is calling them?
Nick: [00:35:09] Well, I think I’m going to quote you on this the Liel from our our last conversation and people really respond to you being genuinely you. Nine out of 10 people can spot a fake phony a mile away and salesmen are so like prototypical of this right? You can spot a fake sales laugh a million miles away. They’re not. I don’t think you’re funny. They are just laughing because they want to build rapport with you. So if you’re funny, right, or if you are sort of knowledgeable and you want to talk about, you know, in-depth, sort of expertise or your area of expertise with a customer and let them know that they’re talking to a real expert like push that, you know, if you were sort of reserved, just be honest with people and tell them how you like to do things. So that’s always worked for me is I tell people how I like to do things. I have people on my podcast and I tell them, Listen to me. I am so sorry in advance. I am so unbelievably weird. And if that makes you uncomfortable, I’m really sorry. I’m not trying to make you uncomfortable. I am just a weird, like, like, boisterous, loud idiot.
Nick: [00:36:30] And I get it. If that’s if that if if that turns you away, you know. But if you’re a more serious person, just be like, Hey, I’m a I’m a really serious down to business guy. So this is how I am, and this is how I’m going to handle it for you. Because, you know, at the end of the day, I like results. If you’re if you’re quiet, hey, listen, I might seem like I’m quiet, but you get me in a courtroom. I’m a pit bull. I’m going to go crazy, but just let people know what your process is. People want to know what’s going on, what’s going on in this guy’s head. Is he working for me or is he just cashing a check? Is he out there sleeping on the job, or is he really like fighting for my, for my, my case right now? I find that that always I shouldn’t say always, because again, when I tell people I’m weird, they believe me. Sometimes because it’s true and they don’t like my level of weird. And that’s quite OK. I am who I am, but that’s my peek behind the curtain for you.
Liel: [00:37:29] Yeah, keep it real. Nothing can go wrong there unless you’re really, really weird, but
Grace: [00:37:40] I always say embrace the weird because there’s always going to be someone else who appreciates that weird so. Yeah, it takes all kinds. So it’s right, unfortunately, and sadly, that does bring us to the end of the podcast. However, as we said at the beginning, we like to give you the opportunity to give three actionable takeaways to our listeners that they can hopefully take today or over the next week or two and actually do something about this and what’s going on in the legal intake world. So please go ahead.
Nick: [00:38:14] I’ve got three. Ok, we’re going to start with knowing where your phones are going to ring. Ok, let’s get out a seven day planner and let’s time our business hours when we’re going to be in the office. That’s where our phones are going to ring during our office hours, right? So if you’re a nine to five Monday through Friday, I know where my phones are ringing. 9:00 to 5:00 are ringing right on my desk, OK? Outside of those business hours, from five hundred one to eight fifty nine, is that good math? I don’t know something like that. Where are they ringing? Are you forwarding them to your cell phone? Do you have an answering service? Do you have someone else on your staff that’s going to take those on specific days? Let’s make a plan almost like a shift schedule, right? You ever had like a part time job and you’re on a shift schedule? Well, that’s what you want to do with your phone. Your phone is now on a shift schedule when you’re doing intake scriptwriting. I have met people who like to make like a word document,right like I Google Doc and write out all their things and then print it and then handwrite it, you know, a million times and then just keep making copies if that works for you, great.
Nick: [00:39:19] There’s also a really great Google feature called Google Forms, where you can create a document, write that a living sort of like, I call it, like a survey. That’s what it looks like to me. And yeah, it’s cool and totally free, and you can automate it to, like, have your four questions in a row, right? You can type in your answers to those questions and hit submit it sends it right to yourself, right? So you type in the person’s name, their phone number, their email, you got your four questions hit submit. You’ve got your legal intake right there. You don’t have to go out and buy any expensive software you got. Google forms Google it. It’ll come right up because Google loves its own products. I promise you that would work. Third, one is I want you to really take a look at where in your firm are you finding the falloff when it comes to getting customers to actually say yes and go with you? Is it are you? Are you having trouble getting customers in the door? Well, then you might want to work on marketing and spending a little bit more money on advertising.
Nick: [00:40:26] Ok? Are the phone’s ringing off the hook? And it doesn’t seem like many of them are converting? Well, then you might want to take a look at your intake and say, you know, maybe my intake isn’t so good and I’m not finding the right types of customers, or I’m not telling these customers that I that I can really handle their thing. Or do I need some help, maybe in the legal intake department, right? Maybe I’m not very good at it. Maybe I need to hire somebody who’s really good at getting people to say yes, and then, you know, I can pay them. You know, a salary and a commission for every time that they get somebody to go through with me, or maybe it’s my follow up, right? Maybe I’m really bad at following up with customers after I’ve gotten the yes, and then they they tell me that they don’t need me anymore. And you’ve got to look at these things and find out where your own personal pain points are and address them. So those are my three actionable. I hope they made sense. Those are my three actionable things that I would recommend you do right now,
Liel: [00:41:25] There are actually very good, Nick. Thank you so much. And again, thank you so much for creating the time for joining us for this conversation. Again, this is Nick Worker from answering legal. And obviously, we’re going to have links to answering legal on our episode notes. So check them out because they might just be the solution that you were missing on. So thank you, Nick, again, and we’ll hope to have you again back soon.
Nick: [00:41:49] Thank you. Liel, I love you, Grace. Great to meet you. I had a great time. Thanks for having me. Thanks.
Liel: [00:42:05] Grace, what a great conversation being so much fun. I’m so glad that he came and joined us and really shared some valuable information pure Grace, right? I mean, when he started going about the different scripts for different practice areas, you can really tell, right? He knows what are the those critical qualifiers different practice areas need in order to get leads potentially converted into clients.
Grace: [00:42:30] Right. And it’s not easy to balance the two, you know, empathy with getting the result that you need and, you know, getting to the end of a call and doing the intellectual, you know, there was very.
Liel: [00:42:41] Absolutely. And he also gave us some very good takeaways here. So let’s go and try to see whether we can come up with some takeaways as well here.
Grace: [00:42:52] I think for me, one of the first takeaways and it could be even the last one, you know, first and last, but it’s look into this process. Whatever your current phone process is, however, the phones go wherever they go, whether there’s going to a voicemail, any of that. I would say grab every phone number you have and find out where it actually goes right now if you haven’t done this already. Yeah, I think that to me is number one because you’d be surprised how many people out there have purchased a bazillion numbers over time for different campaigns and then they don’t know where they actually go anymore.
Liel: [00:43:30] Yeah, as part of that audit, Grace, I’m going to add to that to also listen to recordings of routine phone calls that come in and out to your law firm, right? Those that are in take those out of existing clients know what’s happening on the phone. Know how your team is handling these calls. I think it’s very important to have that level of awareness and not ignore it. So that’s definitely I agree with you, Grace. Point number one is, you know, run an audit know what’s happening.
Grace: [00:44:08] Yeah, and that includes listening to the calls, you’re 100 percent right, Liekl. That’s super important, and I don’t think that that needs to be re-emphasized as one end two.
Liel: [00:44:17] Yeah. So how about another take away, Grace?
Grace: [00:44:22] So, you know, don’t be afraid to actually look into other services. Don’t feel like you have to be locked into a different service of some sort. Use it as a support if you don’t want to use it as your be-all and end all and replace all your phone systems. Of course not. Like, we all understand that that’s not something that you necessarily should do, period. But look into it. You got to look into other answering services that are out there, not just Google Voice, for all the reasons that were mentioned during the call. And that includes because the calls could be lost. So you need to make sure that at the end of everything, you do have something that will always answer the call, or at least track the fact that that call came in and went to a voicemail or wherever ended up.
Liel: [00:45:12] Yeah, no, definitely you don’t want to be missing out on calls, you definitely don’t want to have calls going to voicemail, particularly if you’re marketing right. I mean, if you’re investing money in advertising and then you’re not answering your calls, you’re basically shooting yourself in the leg, it doesn’t make any sense at all. So that’s extremely, extremely critical. Set your priorities and figure out your phone before you even go and spend one dollar in marketing, because if you’re not capable of completing intake, you are not going to succeed in your marketing either. So that’s just the pure reality of it, right? Or you’re going to be asking yourself questions. Why is your marketing not generating more results for you? It’s not a marketing problem. The problem is the handling of the outcomes of this marketing is generating for you, Grace. I actually think these are all very good takeaways. How just going to add one more comment here that is more about the handling of the phone calls, right? And I think Nick talks a lot about being real, showing empathy. I think an important element here that can be added is personalization. Make your clients feel unique, right usernames. Make sure that you are letting them know that their calls matters. And I think personalization is a very important way of doing that. I think name usage is something that oftentimes is not taken advantage of as a way of showing and reflecting that interest, even though one of the first questions that get asked by intakes teams is What’s your name? What’s your last name? And then they just don’t use this very, very, very, very valuable information that’s already being given to them. So, Grace. Anything else?
Grace: [00:46:59] No, I mean, there’s it’s about having a process in place. That’s what it is. You know, it all boils down to making sure you have everything down to a process. So you know what’s happening? Every call that comes in, every call that goes out, everything, all the scripts, all of it needs to be in place so that your employees, you yourself and everyone in the law firm can truly respond to clients the way they need to be responded to in the way they want to be responded to. So to me, that’s just the the end result and all of all of this plan process procedure. Yeah.
Liel: [00:47:36] Couldn’t have said that better Grace. So thanks again, Grace for another great conversation. Thanks to Nick. And we’ll be back next week with another conversation.
Grace: [00:47:47] Next week it is.
Liel: [00:47:50] And if you like our show, make sure you subscribe. Tell your coworkers. Leave us a review and send us your questions at: email@example.com We’ll see you next week.