Winning communication strategies for family lawyers include two-way text messaging from your business number, leads straight from your website, video chat for virtual consultations, online review generation, and reputation management.
In this webinar, McKay Allen, the VP and head of marketing of Kenect, and Dan Couvrette, the Publisher of Family Lawyer Magazine, discuss the communication issues experienced by both lawyers and their potential clients, and how those issues can be resolved. Family lawyers should find the data that compares the response rate to inquiries between law firms and car dealerships to be an eye-opening wake-up call.
Dan Couvrette: I’m the publisher of Family Lawyer Magazine and CEO of Divorce Marketing Group, a full-service marketing agency. I invite you to visit our website, www.divorcemarketinggroup.com, where you’ll learn about all the marketing products and services we offer. We work exclusively with family lawyers, offering everything from strategic planning to building websites and creating videos, podcasts, and newsletters.
My guest today is McKay Allen, the VP of Marketing for a company called Kenect, which helps businesses connect with their customers. McKay’s going to share how you can better connect with your clients, prospective clients, and referral sources. I encourage you to listen to McKay carefully because they do have a great, great system, we’re going to share information that will be of value to you.
I’ve been working exclusively with family lawyers for 26 years. I’m not a family lawyer – I’m a marketing guy – but I know what family lawyers need to grow their practices.
As the publisher of DivorceMag.com and DivorcedMoms.com, which each receive 4 million visitors a year, I also have the perspective of divorcing laypeople. Having gone through a divorce myself and having seen what divorcing people are interested in reading about on our websites, I’m going to dovetail my insights with McKay’s; he’s going to look from a technical and business point of view, while I’ll be looking more from the emotional point of view.
McKay, please introduce yourself and lead the way.
McKay Allen: Thanks for having us. Let’s dive in and talk about communication strategies at family law firms. As Dan said, he’s going to hit more of the emotional side of this, and I’m going to hit more of the business side.
We’ll dig into some data that we’ve never shared before with law firms. If you have questions, go to the little question dropdown. We’d love to interact with you there as well.
First of all, who is Kenect? We’re based outside of Salt Lake City. We’re a text messaging platform built for law firms throughout North America that helps you communicate efficiently, generate new leads, conduct video consultation, streamline intake, all of that simply with texting. We allow you to keep your main business number and simply log into Kenect to send and receive text messages like you would from your cell phone, but with your main business phone number. We were recently listed on the Inc. 5,000 list of the 5,000 fastest-growing companies in the world. We were ranked number 216 on that list – the top 5% – which was a huge honor for Kenect. We’re also integrated with the leading case management systems in the industry. We just crossed 4,000 customers and 40,000 users on the platform.
So, how do we do it? We offer:
- Two-way text messaging for your law firm so you can stop giving out your personal cell number.
- Web leads straight from your website.
- Video chat for virtual consultations.
- Online review generation and reputation management, all with texting and all by simply logging into Kenect.
The two-way texting allows you to text with your clients back and forth. Web leads, we put a little “Text Us” button on your website that allows you to get more leads. Video chat helps a ton for virtual consultations. You can actually have a video conversation in the text thread specifically.
Why texting? Why are we so obsessed with it, worried about it? Pretty simple: texting is the biggest change in communication since the telephone was invented 110 years ago. Today, most people would prefer to text a business rather than call it. Most people will engage far more quickly with a text message than they will with a call.
The days of playing phone tag with customers, with clients, with future clients, with past clients, with trying to get hearing dates and documents back and forth – all that is over. And your clients don’t want to do that. They find phone calls disruptive; they would much prefer for you to text them.
The top ways firms use Kenect include scheduling consultations, sending appointment reminders, streamlining intakes, sending case updates, collecting fees, and video chatting. You can also attach and send photos, videos, PDFs, DocuSigns, generate online reviews, capture more leads. It’s just a great way to engage with your clients.
Dan Couvrette: I want to reinforce to the family lawyers who are listening that I’m in the marketing business. We work hard to help family lawyers get attention and leads coming their way. I see everything Kenect does as adding tremendous value because it ensures that all the work my company does is going to produce better results. If they hop into your system – and for a small amount of money compared to what they’re spending on building websites doing Google pay-per-click – you can help ensure that they get full value from all of that effort.
McKay Allen: I was recently down in Austin, Texas at the ALA show. It was interesting talking to law firms that have started using Kenect in the last year. It was cool to meet those lawyers in person, but even cooler to hear them say, “This has changed our firm and helped us communicate far more efficiently, helped us get more deals, helps us get more clients.”
You can just log in here and send text messages just like you would send emails, but they’re text messages. Your clients don’t need to download anything. You just need to log into Kenect. You can also download the app on your phone so you can send and receive text messages there. You can assign leads to other members of the team. You can get alerts when they do or don’t respond to leads. You can send quick replies, you can request reviews, you can attach photos, videos, request payments, schedule messages, all that kind of stuff. Then we mentioned the ability to instantly conduct a live video chat. It really helps streamline intake, helps a ton with that, and there’s no additional software required to run it or anything.
We went through this topic, the ways firms use Kenect. I want to focus on this one just for a second. You simply add a little “Text Us” button to your website, and if you add that and you also have an email address and a phone number and a “Contact Us” page, they will text you about 80% of the time. I think that statistic alone shows you how popular and common this is and what happens when you get it. You will get new leads if you put that ‘Text Us’ button on your website.
Okay, let’s talk about a lead response. I want to run through some data here. What you’re going to see is data that we polled for our two largest industries – law firms and dealerships – and you’re going to see some of the data comparing the two. I was going to remove the dealership and just keep the law firm data but, as I started digging through it, I thought it might be interesting for you to see what we’re seeing from another industry. Please don’t think I’m trying to use it to bludgeon you with data, but I thought it would be fascinating for you to see.
Dan Couvrette: Tremendous to compare industries because, as consumers, our expectations are very high that companies will respond quickly when we contact them. More often than not, we’re disappointed. So, I think it’s very useful to compare your dealership data to the legal profession.
McKay Allen: It’s interesting. The average dealer gets a lot more leads than the average law firm, first of all. They get a lot more people texting them regularly, but the numbers are not insignificant for law firms either: 25 to 26 leads a month. The one that I really want to focus on is response rates, and then we’ll dive into some best practices once we get through the data.
In dealerships, we see about 79% of the leads getting a response. In all the other industries we work with, you can see that average data, and then the right chart will show you specifically what their response rate is. We have very, very few, in this “other” category. Of our 4,000 customers, probably 25 are in this other category – and then the rest is half and half dealer and legal basically.
You can see down here at the bottom on the left-hand side is legal. This is showing the percentage of time that law firms actually respond to a lead, and it’s a lot lower than the other industries. It was about 58% of the time in Q1, and we need to repoll this data to see if it’s changed over 2021, but it was about 58% of the time leads were receiving any sort of response. Dan, does that surprise you? Does it line up with how you’ve seen firms engage with leads in the past? Where do you fall on the surprise scale for this?
Dan Couvrette: It surprises me that it’s that high, to be honest. Responding to leads is difficult for them. I’ve worked with family lawyers for 26 years, so I know how challenging it is – particularly if you’re a solo family lawyer. Maybe you don’t have an assistant and you’re the one who’s responding to the new lead. I know how focused family lawyers are on taking care of their clients, dealing with the courts, doing all the work they need to do to be a family lawyer. Taking care of business – which is responding to leads or marketing or anything else other than dealing with your clients – takes a backseat. There’s always a fire going in family law. It’s just incredible the stress and pressure that family lawyers are under. So, I take my hat off to you.
McKay Allen: You make a great point, Dan. It’s not like you’re sitting on a beach with a strawberry daiquiri ignoring these leads: you’re helping your current clients. Again, as I said, I was hesitant to leave the dealership data there because I didn’t want this to be like a bludgeon fest for law firms. But I think there are some best practices that we can learn from these other industries that may be helpful, and they’re pretty simple things. For example (I’ll hit these as we go and then sum them up at the end), most dealerships have someone who is in charge of responding to leads.
Now that’s not their only job, unless the dealership is gigantic, but they have someone who’s in charge of responding to leads. That is oftentimes a general manager or a sales manager, or a service manager at a dealership. In my experience, very few law firms – unless they’re fairly large – have anybody whose job is at least in part to respond to leads. A simple way [to improve this] is to let somebody know that when we get leads, you’re in charge of reaching out to them. It is a simple way to remedy some of this.
Here’s the average time a lead will wait for a response. Go to the right-hand chart. For law firms, it’s about 0.7 hours during business hours. So, you’re talking about 42 minutes. That’s not actually terrible. Of course, quicker is better, but it’s not horrific. It’s the after-hour stuff that is painful. Essentially, what this is saying is that if someone messages after hours, they’re probably going to wait till the next morning to get a response. For better or worse, Google and Amazon have trained us to expect instant answers to our questions.
If I want to buy something, I’m going to go buy it now. I don’t have to wait for the store to open. Or, if I want to find an answer to a question on Google, I get the answer immediately. The fear I have with this is this: is there a law firm in your market, a competitive firm, who is answering leads more quickly? Because the data shows that people will go to the firm that engages more quickly – not necessarily the firm that has the best qualifications or wins most or has the best attorneys.
Dan Couvrette: I would look from the point of view of, are you trying to be average or are you trying to be better than average? If you’re shooting for being a better than average family law firm, then you need to look at what you could implement to make your response rate better. There are services that can respond for you while you’re sleeping, or you can have automatic responses in some cases. As a consumer, we just want to know that we’ve been listened to or to know that they’re paying attention to our request. If you can do something to let people know that you’re paying attention, then that’s better than not doing something at all.
McKay Allen: That’s a good point. One of the reasons we love texting is that in the past, if you got a lead and it was a phone call, you’d have to step away from a family dinner, your kid’s play, a soccer game, a football game, to return or answer a call after hours. That’s really inconvenient and awful frankly. With texting, it’s just not that way. You can literally open the Kenect app and send a text wherever you are, whatever you’re doing, and it works in seconds. So, you don’t need to interrupt your life to respond. Texting is just a lot easier. This is just another way to slice the data, just the percentage of leads that get a slow response.
So, they’re responded to, but they’re not responded to for over 24 hours, and you can see the percentages on those. Most of those are after hours. Some of those are during business hours. But about 15% of total leads are not responded to for 24 hours. If you add the non-responses to leads and the leads that are waiting 24 hours or longer, you’re looking at about a half of the leads that law firms are getting are not being responded to at all, or for 24 hours. You can see a summary of the data here.
Let’s go through best practices together and then you chime in with the stuff that you think is pertinent for family law firms specifically. I would suggest that you assign someone to handle the leads. If a solo lawyer only has a couple of employees, they have to determine which one is in charge of handling leads. It’s really important for your firm that leads are responded to because I promise you, they’re not reaching out because they are interested in the price for your services. If they’re reaching out to you, they need you. It’s not like other services where maybe they’re just price-checking because they might need it in the future. They need a family lawyer now.
Dan Couvrette: The truth of the matter is that, and every family lawyer on this call knows it, not all family law cases are equal when you want more than others. So, if you increase the communication that you have with potential clients, you increase the possibility of having to sift through leads to get exactly the type of clients you want. Pretty well all of our family law clients are busy right now. But things will slow down. We’re hopefully towards the end of the pandemic and I believe there’s pent-up demand that’s being fulfilled over the past year for people to get divorced. But it will get back to more normal six months or a year from now. So, your ability to handle the leads, connect with prospective clients will become more important than it is right now. While business is good, get things set up for when it slows down.
McKay Allen: That’s a really good point. Develop a process for handling leads, especially after-hours leads, now. Whatever that process is, make sure it’s right. Texting versus calling I kind of talked through. Just the ability to conveniently text somebody as opposed to having to step away from something family or personal related to make a phone call is vastly different. In the past, if you were assigned to respond to after-hours leads, it was a chore because of the calling component. Now it’s not because of the texting component.
Set a standard for lead response time – [which will be different] for every family law firm. I’m just going to tell you quicker is always better, but be above average on this. Set a goal. Say listen, everybody, we’ve got all these leads coming in after hours. After hours, we’re going to respond within 30 minutes. Over the weekend, it’s 30 minutes. During business hours, it’s five minutes. Whatever the number is, make sure everybody knows that at your firm.
Dan Couvrette: I was going to wrap up at the end with the communication strategy, but this falls exactly within that communication strategy. This part of your communication strategy would be determining how quickly you’re going to respond. Set it up like a game – a game that you want to win. Right now, you’re probably not keeping track of how quickly you get back to leads. So, the start of the game is to at least set it up, document it, keep track of the results, and then you can make improvements to reduce the amount of time it takes you to get back. I’ll give you a few other tips about setting up your communication strategy later, but continue, McKay.
McKay Allen: Okay. Train your team on the why. Make them see why this is important to them. Why is this important to the clients that you serve? Why is this important to them in terms of their pocketbook? Why is this important to the firm? Because if you just say, “Hey, we need to do better,” it’s really hard for smart people to understand why we need to do better. But if you can give them the why, that’ll help. And then over-communicate. I say this a ton, these last two.
I once had to hire an attorney, and the attorney that I ended up working with was so communicative that I always knew what was going on. It was awesome. I reached out to multiple firms and the only firm that reached out quickly was this one, and that’s why I went with them. They were proactive. They over-communicated so I always knew what was going on. There was never any surprise about, “Hey, we need this document, here’s this date for this.” It was constant and continuous proactive communication, and that’s what you’ve got to have. Dan, you had some principles you wanted to address as well.
Dan Couvrette: Let’s talk about initial contact: the prospective client, either coming into your office or perhaps virtually these days for the interview. You should set the expectations for your staff, and let the potential client know what your firm stands for in terms of communication, who they’re going to be talking to, how quickly they should expect a response, what sort of way that they will communicate with you, whether that’s text, email, phone, letter. Whatever it might be, you need to set an expectation so the client is not disappointed. You’ve also set the standard for yourself by putting it into words to your prospective client.
McKay and I have done several seminars on Google reviews, and I want to mention that [the initial consultation] would be the time to let the client know that you’re going to be asking them for a review. That plants a thought in their mind that this family lawyer is going to take care of them really well [in anticipation of a good review]. I can tell you most family lawyers will not have that conversation with a new client. If you set the bar high for your firm’s ability and strategy for communicating with clients and you live up to it (and sometimes you won’t, by the way), then you will have a constant flow of clients because that client will not stop talking about how well they’ve been taken care of. Just like McKay with his one legal case; he always mentions it and how good the communication was. And you must keep this standard of communication all the way to the end of the case.
I also recommend that you do an exit survey with your client, letting them know at the beginning that you’re going to be requesting it. Throughout the case, you should be checking in to see how they’re feeling. In family law, it’s sometimes difficult to deal with how their clients are feeling. And some clients don’t have a clear way to articulate how they’re feeling. But if you’re communicating with them regularly and you’re doing your best to understand [where they are at emotionally], then that won’t be new to you when you do it at the end of the case. Find out what you did to help them feel more secure, feel safer, feel more confident, [then decide which of those things you can implement for new cases. Your exit survey is part of your communication strategy, so from the beginning to the end, you’ve got a strategy. If you want to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, I’m glad to share a document that I’ve created around this.
McKay Allen: Thanks for jumping on with us, everybody. If you have questions, you can text or call us at 888-972-7422. Thanks again for taking the time out of your busy schedules, everybody. I know how busy everybody is and how valuable your time is. That’s why we like to keep cap these webinars at about a half-hour. Dan, any final thoughts from you?
Dan Couvrette: No. I recommend that everybody go and either text McKay or check out his firm’s website. We have several clients who are using his system, and they all rave about it. For a small amount of money, it’s a great return on your investment for all of your other marketing efforts. The truth is that not every lawyer is great at communicating, and any improvement would be good. So up your level of communication, whether you’re great at communicating or it’s not your strong point. If you could use help with your communication practices, or if you just want to improve wherever you can in your practice, check out Kenect.
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