Automating your client intake process seems like a no-brainer. But, with so many products coming online, what should small firms know before they buy? Assembly Legal’s McKay Ferrell explains some common misunderstandings so you can better evaluate the options.
It’s not true that small law firms can’t compete with bigger firms. With the right technology, your firm can take advantage of automations that remove bottlenecks and improve workflow — all while feeding you the data you need to grow. For example, automating the intake process can help you vet and onboard clients more efficiently, eliminating time wasted on prospects who aren’t a good fit. Intake software can also track marketing campaigns so you know where your best leads come from.
Misunderstandings When Evaluating Intake Software
Here are five common misunderstandings about intake software I’ve seen with smaller law firms, along with questions to ask when test-driving intake products.
1. You need to purchase a standalone, specialized intake solution to compete with bigger firms.
You might assume that a standalone product is the best option out there. If a company only focuses on one thing, it must have thought of everything, right? The truth is there is more to consider when looking at a standalone intake solution. For example, you’ll want to know if the intake software is tied to a case management software program. If so, contacts that first come into your firm’s system as a lead can automatically transfer to a case with a clean transfer of notes and documents, so you won’t need to re-enter information. Behind the curtain of some offerings, you’ll find that this doesn’t typically occur. If there are two separate systems (which is often the case, even with some that seem to be integrated), your client data can be lost and you will need to re-enter it.
Additionally, data integrity is a factor. If intake is connected to a workflow, you and your staff won’t need to go between systems to complete tasks.
2. You need to hire highly skilled intake specialists.
Fortunately, this is not the case. Some intake solutions come with advanced automations — and those can seem daunting, especially to smaller firms. If you are looking for an intake solution, be sure to get a demo with key people who will be using the software at your firm. They will be able to tell you how complicated or simple it seems to perform their job with the new software.
Look out for features such as the ability to add additional instructions within the intake form or questionnaire to guide your intake staff. Another feature to ask about is dynamic questionnaires, which act as a guide through the process, helping intake staff more easily collect data from prospects. Ask if your firm’s administrator can customize these forms so that the work of the intake staff is clear, even if a new person is filling in.
3. It’s too difficult to track marketing campaigns from an intake to a settlement.
It’s not! Even if you are not tech-savvy, you can find out from intake providers how the data moves from an intake into a case. Think about how Google has tracking pixels for websites. Intake systems should have some sort of tracking mechanism in place to pass on where the source comes from — whether you got a lead from your firm’s website form or a specific advertising channel.
If the intake solution is truly integrated with the case management solution, it should be easy to capture the lead source from the intake and transfer it to the case. This gives you visibility as to which marketing channels generated the most leads that converted to cases.
For more on what to look for in a lead-tracking system, see “Don’t Waste Your Marketing Dollars With a Bad Intake Process: 5 Meaningful Changes” by Mark Homer.
4. You need to have a customer relationship management tool for full pipeline visibility.
You will be happy to know that this isn’t true. We all know that purchasing a customer relationship management, or CRM, tool can cost a small fortune, especially from companies in the Fortune 500! The good news is you don’t always need a CRM to see your leads turn into clients.
When evaluating intake software, ask about features that can help move and track leads for you. A good system will offer the ability to sort all leads by pipeline status so you can quickly see which leads need to be chased.
For an interesting take on CRM systems that don’t break the bank, read “Why Every Lawyer Needs a CRM System” by employment lawyer Andrew Lacy.
5. Intake solutions limit where lead sources can come from.
Not true. The reality is that your leads can come from anywhere — phone calls, website forms and chatbots, among other channels. Not all intake solutions are created equal, however, in their ability to track lead sources or attribute leads to specific marketing and advertising campaigns. You may have heard of Zapier, which has a massive list of available integrations that are easy to set up. With a tool like Zapier, the source of your lead data becomes endless. You can even integrate with systems like Excel, Google Sheets, SQL Data sources, and a host of other data stores. Make sure your intake provider can help you track where all lead sources come from through a tool like Zapier.
More on Intake from Attorney at Work
- “Don’t Waste Your Marketing Dollars With a Bad Sales (Intake) Process: 5 Meaningful Changes” by Mark Homer
- “6 Tips for Great Legal Intake Calls” by Manni Sandoval
- “Remote Client Intake: Limiting the Risks While Expanding Access” by Will Hornsby
- “Tech Tips: Best Advice for Improving Client Intake” from Heidi Alexander, Sheila Blackford, Jim Calloway, Andrea Cannavina, Jared Correia and Natalie Kelly
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