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A selection of articles related to popular and up-and-coming legal technology and its best uses for attorneys at small law firms.

Tag Archive for: Legal Tech

Troubles With Google Voice? Here’s What We Recommend Instead

Trouble with Google Voice Free Phone Services

We understand the attractiveness of the free version of Google Voice, but is it really benefitting your law firm? Let’s dive into the facts.

Who Is Using The Free Version Of Google Voice?

The free version of Google Voice has continued to increase in popularity among small businesses. It’s easy to understand why: Small business owners need to save money where they can and will always be on the lookout for ways to do so. In fact, the majority of the companies that use this version of Google Voice have less than fifty employees.

Google Voice Is Not Meant To Be Used For Business

Unfortunately, the free version of Google Voice simply isn’t intended for business use. In fact, Google actually changed the name of this version to include, “For personal use”.

When you consider all of the known issues and the frustration this service has caused business owners and administrative staff, it makes sense that they are dissuading businesses from utilizing the service. Though, perhaps the most concerning aspect of this for businesses is the fact that the quality cannot be guaranteed. When you’re running a small business like a law firm, you need reliability. Google Voice simply doesn’t provide that.

There Is No Customer Support

The only support offered to users of the free Google Voice is a list of commonly asked questions and community forums. Run into an issue and need tech support? You’ll be left hoping that someone else has publicly solved that same problem on a forum in a way you’re capable of accomplishing by yourself.

Do you really want the operations of your business reliant on a “fingers crossed” situation?

Call Forwarding Is Tricky And Known To Not Always Work Properly

The most common complaint with Google Voice is that call forwarding simply stops working out of nowhere, sending your calls straight to voicemail.

The initial call from a potential new client is crucial and can make or break their trust in your law firm.

If you were trying to find a lawyer and had a list of numbers to call in front of you, would you really waste your time waiting around to see if someone gets that voicemail and returns your call? Not if another firm answers and can get your process started right away.

This is where that lack of technical support can really cause some issues.

Here’s the scenario: It’s the middle of your workday. You’re busy and working on time-sensitive cases. After a while, you realize all your calls have been going straight to your voicemail.

What can you do? Spend the rest of your workday on Google’s community help forums? Lose all of your potential new clients for the rest of the day? Neither of those is ideal, so why chance putting yourself in that situation in the first place?

Your Receptionist Only Has So Much Control Over Your Calls

There are a couple of things to consider when using Google Voice with a virtual receptionist service such as Back Office Betties:

Google Voice is designed to quickly locate a human for a live answer. If the call is not answered within a few seconds, it then forwards to Google Voicemail. Unfortunately, this means that if a call comes into our system during a high-volume time and rings more than a couple of times, the call will route to Google Voicemail.

Not only does this take the call out of the hands of the professionals you’re paying to WOW your callers, but it’s also sending messages to yet another voicemail box that you’ll need to check.

Many of our clients do use the free version of Google Voice in conjunction with our services successfully, but the fact that some law firms have issues is enough for us to work out some alternative suggestions for your law firm.

Keep in mind, the Betties team will always do our best to troubleshoot anything within our power. We can track a call once it’s entered our system and your receptionist team has successfully answered. However, if the issue of Google Voice sending the call to Google Voicemail arises, we may not be able to offer a full resolution to the problem.

We Recommend Taking A Look At These Other Providers

You might be thinking that sure, there are some drawbacks, but doesn’t the fact that it’s free make up for that? Not really.

If you want to grow your law firm, client experience is everything. When it comes to phone services, saving money now might lose you business later.

There’s a saying that goes “If you buy quality, you’ll only cry once.” While we don’t expect your phone service provider to be a big enough ticket to have you crying, it will absolutely help you avoid crying every time you miss a potential client’s call due to Google Voice acting up!

Phone Service Providers That We Have Had Positive Experiences With:

 

RingCentral

With an annual contract, RingCentral’s Standard plan is $24.99/user/month. This includes 24/7 support, quality-of-service reports, integrations with popular applications, unlimited audio conferencing, and internet fax, among others. Take a look at their solutions for small businesses.

Dialpad

Dialpad boasts serving some of the most innovative companies like TED, Uber, and WeWork. Their Standard plan is $15.00/user/month with an annual contract. This includes unlimited calling, SMS and MMS, G Suite & Office integrations, among others. Take a look at their small business solutions.

8×8

8×8 has a special page on their site for legal solutions. They have mobile and desktop apps, enterprise-grade security, and 14 countries in their unlimited telephony calling zone under their Standard plan, which costs $24.00/user/month with an annual subscription.

Vonage

Now serving companies as large as Glassdoor and Allstate, their original business model catered to families and small businesses. Vonage uses a pay for what you use by the minute/message pricing system. Outbound calls start at $0.0139/minute. Some features include, 24/7 customer support, call analytics and reporting, integration with popular applications, among others.

Grasshopper

Made for small businesses, Grasshopper includes mobile and desktop apps, incoming call control, virtual fax, voicemail transcription, detailed call reports, and more with all of their plans. Their Solo plan with 1 phone number and 3 extensions is $26.00/month with an annual contract.

Nextiva

Rated the Best Business Phone Service in 2020 by U.S. News, Nextiva offers unlimited calling, texting, and faxing worldwide, 24/7 support, unlimited conference calls, and video conferencing, among others. Their Professional plan is priced at $31.95/user/month for 1-5 users with an annual agreement, and costs are lowered with longer agreements and a higher number of users.

 

All of the above were featured in either The Best Small Business VoIP Providers of 2020 from GetVoIP or Best Business Phone Systems of 2020 from U.S. News and many of our clients have success in using them.

 

We are here to ensure all your calls are answered – don’t let your phone provider sabotage you! If you have any questions about forwarding calls to Back Office Betties or ensuring that your current call process is suitable for your law firm, give our Growth Solutions Strategist a call at 800-958-8591.

How to Automate Your Law Firm While You’re Working From Home

Automate your law firm while working from home

Now that you’re working from home for the foreseeable future, whether you are more or less busy than usual, it is the perfect time to automate your law firm. If you’re more busy than usual, this is important to help you save time and money and bill more of the hours that you are working. If you are less busy than usual, this is the perfect time to dedicate time to making your transition back to the office easier! Pro tip: You can also use this downtime to really hone in on your marketing and automate that, too!

Why You Should Automate Your Law Firm

To some, automation sounds scary and gives the impression that you are taking the personal touch out of everything in your firm. However, our favorite definition of automation is the creation of a system that takes repetitive work off of your plate and allows things to happen seamlessly without you thinking about them. This can absolutely mean that another human does the task for you! Whether you automate tasks that your assistant handles or you outsource tasks completely, you don’t have to take the personal touches out of your law firm. And frankly, you shouldn’t!

Automation provides time freedom and ensures that you don’t need to be working on things that aren’t billable. Once you set up a system, it should be able to run over and over again with only your initial hours invested. Can you imagine how much time and money this saves you?! No need, because we found the facts and figures for you:

According to the Clio Legal Trends Report, attorneys spend an average of only 2.5 hours on billable work per day and only actually collect payment for 86% of those hours. In addition, there is data to suggest that you could save up to 9 work weeks each year by automating the repetitive and non-billable tasks. Imagine the number of billable hours you could fit into 9 work weeks!

Can you picture how much simpler and enriching your workday would be if you could set up processes one time and focus solely on your billable work afterward? You signed up to be an attorney. You’re good at being an attorney. You shouldn’t be wasting time each day sending invoices or answering the phone for solicitors or sending marketing emails. Heck, you really shouldn’t even be spending time intaking new clients!

How Automation Will Help You to Work From Home

Whether you are super busy or pretty slow during this pandemic, you are likely juggling work with family. Not to mention, you’re trying to do it all in the same place with no breaks. You can’t really automate your family but you can absolutely automate your work to make the juggle a little easier.

Consider this. Your phone is ringing but you’re in the middle of typing up a client agreement and your child needs help figuring out a math problem and your spouse is asking what you’d like for dinner and your clients are blowing up your inbox with questions. Wouldn’t this scenario be so much less stressful if your phone was being answered by someone else and you know that your client agreement is already typed up and sends when triggered by the previous task and your email has messages drafted and ready to go that cover most of your client FAQs, you just have to hit send? Phew! That run-on sentence was exactly how chaotic this series of events feels when you’re not automating your firm.

Now you can focus on quality time and the client questions that are only applicable to their case. You can spend more working hours on billable work and research. You can focus on helping out with math problems and cooking dinner. Your phone isn’t ringing off the hook and your clients are taken care of in the background. What a dream!

What You Can Automate in Your Law Firm

This is not an all-inclusive list, but it is a great start! Keep in mind that you can automate just about anything you want to; automation can just be another human doing a task for you. Get creative! Is there anything you absolutely dread doing or that takes up a ton of your time? There is likely a way to automate it.

Client Management

Managing your leads and clients and all of their questions, matters, case notes, etc. can be really tough. There is so much to keep straight! When you use a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool, things get a whole lot easier. If there is a certain process that happens during client intake or after their first call, CRM makes it really easy to automate it. You can set up tasks that trigger based on certain criteria. Say that you have a new client call: You enter their information which triggers an automated email thanking them for their call and informing them of next steps. Then a task triggers to your assistant to reach out and ask follow up questions. Once those answers are input, another task triggers that informs you of what you need to do for their case. The limit of possibilities does not exist! Not to mention, every step is documented so you can easily see what has been done, what emails have been sent, and what still needs to be done.

Invoicing

Make payment processing easy and painless by triggering invoices to be sent after certain tasks are closed or deadlines are met. You can easily draft common and customized invoices for different items or billable hours and link them to your client management so that they send at the proper times. Some payment processing systems will even send reminders when due dates are approaching or pass by, helping to ensure you don’t miss out on getting paid for your hard work.

Scheduling

There are two great ways to automate your scheduling and client intake. We believe that it is best to implement both!

The first is to have a scheduling link on your website that allows clients to put themselves on your calendar. You can set up a thorough intake process that asks all of the pertinent questions and delivers them to your inbox without anyone having to speak to the client to get it. Ease of access is a big selling point for busy clients so the easier you make things on them, the easier things can be on you!

The second is to have someone else schedule appointments and intake new clients for you. There is nothing billable about grabbing information from a PNC and clients are not expecting to get through to the attorney the first time they call. The smart thing to do is to pay someone else to field those calls and ask all of the pertinent questions, then schedule the caller on your calendar under the appropriate appointment type. This one leads right into our next automation.

Phone Calls

Answering your own phone calls is for the birds. How many times does someone call you over and over again when you can’t (or just don’t want to) answer? What is the number of calls you miss when you’re in a meeting or having a Zoom appointment with a client? What happens when someone calls while you’re eating lunch and just took a huge bite of your sandwich? How often are your kids screaming or your dog barking in the background while you’re trying to be professional on the phone?

Even if you don’t automate anything else while working from home, this one is a must. Having someone to screen your calls and speak to your clients while relaying the important stuff to you is invaluable and saves more time than you could imagine. Whether this person is an answering service (psst, we’d love to help!) or a full-time receptionist, this automation is the number one thing you can do to make more money while also increasing your productivity. Remember – you’re not getting paid to answer the phone for a telemarketer. At the same time, not answering every time is the quickest way to lose a client.

Email

You may be wondering how you can automate your emails when your inbox is overflowing daily. The answer is easy: Set up templates that answer FAQs. You can use a template as an easy jumping off point if more information needs to be added. However, this is a speedy way to quickly answer those frequently asked questions with the click of a button.

Another option would be to hire a Virtual Assistant to monitor your inbox and reply to those FAQs or to screen your messages. This is really helpful when you get an array of emails and need help keeping them straight. We offer this to our clients who are on our Platinum plan and have heard nothing but raving reviews as to how helpful it is.

Social Media Posting

Social media can be frustrating and time-consuming. One thing that really helps to make social media less difficult is to plan ahead. Schedule your posts ahead of time for the month with different tools like Facebook’s Publishing Tools or Hootsuite. This not only saves you daily frustration, but it saves you the time of switching tasks. When you’re on the spot each day, it can take twice as long to actually make a post. Then you have to consider the time spent refocusing on your important tasks at hand.

Marketing

Automating your marketing is a huge time saver and one of the top things you need to automate first. Since marketing is what brings you clients in the first place, it just makes sense to spend the time setting it up to run automatically. Make money when you sleep, baby!

The first step is to ask yourself a few questions. What’s already working in your marketing? Do you have a fantastic lead magnet? Are there marketing emails that have gotten great response in the past? Take all of that and create systems so that everything runs seamlessly without your touch. This takes some time but it is hands down so worth it! And if you’re less busy than usual right now, what better to do than set up some money-making systems?

Set up workflows through your CRM to send email sequences to leads, target your traffic through pixels on your website, and never stop using ads that are working. You can also create a monthly campaign calendar that you recycle each year. This helps to keep your marketing fresh without spending too much time on it every month. Simply create your monthly offers and gimmicks for the year once, then reuse what works.

Relish in Your Newfound Time

We hope this helps offer some insight into how you can automate your law firm and make your day-to-day life so much easier! Use that freed up time to hang out with your family or use it to bill more hours, but whatever you do, quit doing the repetitive tasks yourself. Automation is truly the best thing you can do for your law firm in terms of growth (and keeping your sanity).

If you’d like to chat about how we can help with your phones, please give us a call at (800)958-8591.

How to Capture More Clients With a Better Intake Process

We want to take a moment to introduce Kat, co-founder of one of our new favorite web calendars, CozyCal. Kat understands the need for efficiency and customer service for a successful business and shares some great tips in this article for boosting both in your firm. In the case of current worldly events, this is proving to be more important than ever!

a person booking an appointment using phone

We all understand that delivering great customer experience is important for businesses to attract leads and build a client base. However, based on Clio’s 2019 Legal Trends Report, even before being faced with the Coronavirus pandemic, attorneys fall short of delivering quality communications to clients. In a study done with 1,000 law firms, a majority of law firms suffer from poor email and voicemail responses. Even though law firms are better at answering phone calls, they rarely return calls. And when they do get time to follow up, they don’t provide enough information over the phone.

Clio Legal Trend Report

Source: Legal Trend Report By Clio, 2019

It is alarming that in Clio’s report, among surveyed clients who have contacted a lawyer, 64% mentioned that the law firm they didn’t end up hiring failed to respond to their phone or email. Clients have low expectations for law firms in general. This finding presents a gap between clients’ expectations and what law firms think they can deliver. When firms are delivering substandard customer experience, they risk turning prospective clients away.

But the finding also presents an opportunity for you to work on making your intake process better. If you can run a streamlined client intake process that beats clients’ expectations, your chance of getting hired is much higher than competing firms. So how can you improve your client intake process? There are two solutions that you can try.

1. Hiring a virtual legal receptionist

If you are a solo attorney or run a small law firm, answering phone calls during work hours can interrupt your workflow. When you are unable to respond to qualified leads’ voicemails or follow up afterward, you are losing opportunities to acquire clients for your practice.

Hiring an in-house legal receptionist seems to be the most obvious solution. But the cost can be expensive. On average, a full-time legal receptionist’s annual salary is approximately $46,360 USD. When you take into account ancillary benefits such as health insurance and paid vacation, the cost can add up quickly. Moreover, there is the opportunity cost in hiring, training, and managing a receptionist. The more time spent on doing these administrative tasks, the less time you have to focus on client work.

An alternative solution is to hire a virtual legal receptionist. This solution offers several key benefits that might make it a more suitable choice for you.

  • Cheaper pricing: Many legal virtual receptionist firms offer tiered pricing plans that satisfy the needs of law firms of different sizes. Back Office Betties is a boutique legal virtual receptionist firm whose plans range from Bronze ($299/month, 100 minutes) to Platinum ($1,599/month, unlimited minutes). If you go over the plan’s limit in call minutes, they simply charge by the minute for as low as $2.59 per minute. If you do the math, the cost of a virtual legal receptionist is much lower than an in-house receptionist. In addition, the monthly subscription-based payment model gives you the flexibility to change your plan easily so you are not locked in with a fixed cost.
  • More Responsive: Legal virtual receptionists provide much better flexibility in responding to calls. Even if lead calls are coming in outside of office hours, they can be taken care of by the virtual receptionists. While some virtual receptionists can take incoming calls after business hours, some can even stand by 24/7 to make sure no calls are ever missed.
  • Legal expertise: Unlike generic virtual receptionists, virtual legal receptionists are trained to understand legal terminology, process, and software. For example, Back Office Betties has their own training program “Betties Legal Academy” that equips receptionists with an essential foundation to communicate with clients professionally. Delivering quality experience to your leads is more likely to win them over for your business. Legal virtual receptionists like Back Office Betties offers flexible and cost-efficient pricing plans to accommodate law firms with varied needs

2. Installing a scheduling tool on your website

Another alternative solution to improve your firm’s onboarding customer experience is installing a scheduling tool on your website. Nearly 40% of all small law firms don’t have websites. And of those firms that have websites, 70% do not have a call to action item on their homepage. As more people are finding information online, it is important for you to make it accessible and easy for leads to reach out to you.

An easy-to-use and reliable scheduling tool like CozyCal allows you to automate your firm’s intake process so you can capture quality leads anytime and anywhere. By automating scheduling, you can reduce the risk of no-shows, customize your intake process, and save a great amount of time in the long run.

CozyCal Intake Form Example

By installing a scheduling tool like CozyCal, you can automate scheduling and capture leads around the clock.

  • Capture leads right on your firm’s website: You can create a customized and professional booking experience to capture potential clients. When you deliver an easy-to-use intake process that meets potential leads’ expectations, you are more likely to retain them as your clients. Qualified leads can view your pre-set availabilities with one simple click to schedule free consultation sessions right away. This eliminates the painful back-and-forth calling and email tagging while you can manage all your appointments in one place.
  • Collect information through intake forms: Based on your appointment types, you can create customized intake forms to collect key information from guests such as their full name, email, phone number, and reason for consultation. The intake form information is saved automatically so you can always follow up with qualified leads later on.
  • Powerful integrations for streamlined scheduling: CozyCal provides a wide variety of integrations including Clio, Stripe, Google Calendar, and Microsoft 365 that connect scheduling with your existing workflows easily. If you are using Clio, the Clio integration allows you to sync with Clio’s calendar in real-time, send information collected from the intake form to Clio’s calendar events, and automatically create new contacts in Clio.
  • Save cost: If your budget doesn’t allow you to hire someone else to manage appointments for you, a scheduling tool like CozyCal can save you a fair amount of money. Paying only $15 per month, you can automate your law firm’s scheduling and have it onboard new leads 24/7. You only need to convert one captured lead into a client a year to cover the cost of using CozyCal.

Whether you prefer to hire a legal virtual receptionist for the person-to-person interaction, use a scheduling tool to automate the intake process on your website, or even combine both solutions, the goal is the same: to leave a good first impression on leads and provide stellar client experience even at the early stage of the business funnel.

Uncertainty is at an all-time high right now. By adopting these solutions, you can become a more responsive firm that delivers quality communications in a timely manner and provides your clients with a clear process and the support they crave.

When you have a systematized intake process in place that goes above and beyond clients’ expectations, you will be able to capture more clients and grow your firm in the long run.

How to Have a Stress-Free Holiday Season Without Losing Business

Stress Free Holiday Season

The holidays are a joyous time to spend with your family. Whether that means intimate time with only your immediate family or an elaborate gathering of the entire extended crew, you want to be present and enjoy yourself, right? As an in-demand attorney with cases that don’t wait and callers who don’t quit, it may be hard to get that time away that you (and your family) crave. So what do you do?

Automate Everything in Your Law Firm That You Can

The key to being able to step away from your firm when you need a well-deserved break is automation! When I say automate your law firm, I don’t mean that you need to have a robot set up to push buttons and auto-reply emails. Automation is simply having a system in place that allows you to not have to continuously do the work. This can mean robots, or it can also be a system that triggers humans to act on a task.

What Can I Automate in My Firm During the Holidays?

The answer to this one is easy! Any and everything. Whether it’s having your emails answered, your phones picked up, appointments scheduled, forms filled out, the office cleaned, payments processed…set it and forget it. At least, until the holidays are over and your family is ready to send you back to the office!

Automation doesn’t have to stop with the holidays, however. So many tools are meant for long term use and can help you to save time and make more money all year round. If your family wants to see more of you all year, make it possible by investing in systems that allow you to focus on the work that only you can do. Support work doesn’t have to be your job, too.

Our Favorite Tools to Automate Your Law Firm


The following list is not a complete list of what’s available to you when looking to automate your law firm, but it is definitely a great start. We chose some of our favorite ways to help you relax a little more and get some quality time in with the family. So long to being glued to your desk during the holidays – unless that’s where you prefer to be!

Robot at computer

Client Facing Tools

Clio Grow – Your very first step to automation is going to be investing in a software that handles your clients and their information. Starting out with a CRM like Clio Grow will set you up on a path to success (and a whole lot less paper shuffling). CRMs such as this one manage your clients from intake to court. This allows for a one-time setup of tasks and required paperwork, then every new piece of information will trigger the next step. The steps can function on their own with templates or you can assign certain parts to different members of your team, such as the initial phone conversation.

The biggest benefit to an automated system such as Clio Grow is that you can automate all of your client forms. Need them to fill out an intake form? Clio Grow will send them their customized form at the click of the button, then trigger the next actions after they return it. Fee agreements? Clio Grow starts with a template and inputs all of the required information based on case type and client intake forms, then will send it out on your behalf. Once signed, the client can send it back and trigger the next step in your process.

Zendesk or Freshdesk- Communication is an important part of your clients’ experience. You want them to know you understand their problem and you are working to fix it. Clearly going dark over the holidays isn’t going to work – your clients may riot. Instead, manage all communications in a platform such as Zendesk or Freshdesk that allows all emails, social media, and chat to be located in the same place. You can set up templates that reply to specific questions and automatically assign specific inquiries and communications to other team members.

Scheduling Tools

Acuity – Scheduling can be a nightmare with lots of back and forth emails trying to match up your availability to your clients’. Remove all of that with Acuity and in turn, gain some freedom. You can adjust your availability 24/7 and only show your clients the calendars you want them to see. Acuity also helps with client intake as you can set specific questions they must answer at booking – no follow-up call needed. Acuity will also automatically add your scheduled client’s appointment to all of your calendars and will allow them to pay any fees right then and there.

Social Media Tools

Facebook Publishing Tools – If you regularly post on social media to keep client traffic up, schedule all of your posts! This is an amazing way to free up time ALL of the time, not just over the holidays. When you sit down and create a calendar of content to post (which you should be doing for ultimate productivity), add on half an hour or delegate an assistant to schedule them. Yet another set it and forget it – and an easy one at that!

Postfity – Along the same lines as Facebook scheduling, Postfity is a tool that allows you to schedule LinkedIn posts. It’s free and easy to use – link your account and schedule out your next few weeks’ worth of content. While Postfity does not work to post articles, you can write and draft all of your upcoming articles in LinkedIn, then hit publish when you’re ready. LinkedIn is a hot marketing tool for professionals so if you’re not using it yet, be sure to start!

Do It All Tools (Plus Easy Setup)

Back Office Betties – You already know we have to toot our own horn here – we are the ultimate vacation tool. There are no contracts so you are free to utilize us as you please, even if that means just for the holidays. Our Client Concierge walks you through a seamless process that keeps you free to enjoy your yams and pecan pie. We’re known for answering the phones, sure, but did you know that we also offer Virtual Assistant services and scheduling? Think of the Betties as your team that can be there, even when your firm is closed. Every message will be waiting for you, appointments scheduled, and intakes done. We can even accept payments and make case update calls to your clients. Step in and out of your firm like you own the place. Hint: you do ;)!

Unsure if Back Office Betties can really take that much off your plate? Give us a try for FREE. No gimmick, no credit cards. Just allow us the pleasure of helping you help your clients, even if it’s while you sit on your couch.

 

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Take Your Small Law Firm to the Next Level

Take Your Law Firm to the Next Level

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Our newsletter shares expert advice & practical articles to elevate your law firm’s success.

BettieGram Newsletter Snippit
Take Your Small Law Firm to the Next Level

Take Your Law Firm to the Next Level

Subscribe to BettieGram

Our newsletter shares expert advice & practical articles to elevate your law firm’s success.