Mass Tort Intake Essentials
Properly executed mass tort marketing campaigns can be extremely lucrative to law firms. Due diligence goes a long way toward ensuring your success, but there are no guarantees that you will turn a profit on your investment. Dedication to smart business practices will determine your level of success in mass torts. Many items must be addressed in mass tort marketing, including intake and tracking processes. By following these tips, you will significantly increase your return on investment (ROI) and widen your path to success.
Planning for a Higher Intake Volume
Lackluster results in your mass tort marketing campaigns can be frustrating and borderline demoralizing. If you’re dissatisfied with your lead conversions, you might need to reexamine your intake process. With some strategic tweaks, you can get on the road to capitalizing on your advertising investments.
Mass torts take commitment to the long haul. Depending on how mature the litigation is, your money will be tied up in your mass tort cases for at least 2 years. If you’re currently in a personal injury practice and seeking to get involved in mass torts, you have a lot of planning to do. Areas to evaluate when investing in mass torts include a close examination of your infrastructure and client communication processes.
Intake is important whether you are purchasing leads or signed packets. Before you start your campaign, you should evaluate your current intake bandwidth. You need intake personnel who can handle a high volume of calls, establish an immediate sense of trust, and set reasonable expectations. Mass tort marketing is uniquely business-centric, and you always have to keep intake protocols and metrics in mind. Equally as important, you must remember your clients aren’t commodities. Most mass tort claimants are suffering, and some might be in extreme trauma when they respond to your advertisement. Mass tort claimants are worried and angry about their injuries, and they need compassionate, competent representation.
Setting Up Your Intake Department
You may have a great call center for your existing practice, but you can’t expect the same conversion rates in mass torts as with other practice areas. In most personal injury firms, the goal of your intake staff is to schedule an initial appointment. But as with all aspects of mass torts, the intake process is much more complex. You must have an intake staff that can quickly qualify case leads based on criteria that aligns with your marketing campaign.
Due to the sensitive nature of the conversations your intake professionals will have with clients, you will need robust hiring and training protocols to ensure your staff is trauma-informed. Also, put some thought into which employees work on specific dockets, and encourage an ongoing relationship between each client and specific intake personnel.
Meet Your Clients Where They Are
Whether you are pursuing leads or establishing an initial connection with newly signed clients, prompt communication is crucial to client conversion and retention. Mass tort claimants come from all over the country in multiple time zones. You must be able to take calls outside of your business hours. If you are in the Eastern time zone, you must be mindful that people might still be at work when you call before your office closes, and the sensitive nature of personal injuries might prevent them from answering your call during office hours. In sum, your mindset must shift from 8-5 local lawyer to 24/7 nationwide mass tort lawyer.
The most important call you will ever have with a client is the very first one. When you start getting leads from your mass tort marketing vendor, you will need to start contacting those potential clients immediately. If you can offer 24/7 communications, you will increase your conversions.
Nowadays people routinely search several possible alternatives before committing to buy. Chances are, if a client is calling your law firm, they are calling others as well. This makes it even more essential to sign clients on the first call. A time lapse will send the message to potential clients that they aren’t important to your firm. When they get the indication from the outset that you’re too busy to handle their case, who could blame them for looking elsewhere for representation?
Ideally, you need to set up your intake process to include after hours and weekend communications. When you think about it, this just makes common sense. Your new clients might not be available or willing to discuss sensitive personal issues during their own business hours. You have to be eager to meet your clients where they are, and many times this will mean having those initial conversations after business hours. If you approach new clients with expediency, you significantly reduce dual representation problems.
Plan For Increased Volume While Nurturing Your Existing Practice
Make sure you don’t overwhelm your current staff by adding more volume than they can handle while maintaining your personal injury practice. Conversion is a huge factor to ROI. If your staff is overextended, conversion on all fronts can decrease. It is always important to track conversion rates so you know which campaigns and intake specialists are getting the best results. When adding a mass tort campaign to your law firm, always keep an open mind to working with a third-party call center or legal support services company. At the end of the day, the goal of your firm should be to convert as many claimants as possible into fileable cases.
First and foremost, don’t lose sight of your existing practice. If you can keep your personal injury dockets healthy, you already have an advantage in terms of cash flow. While mass torts can be very lucrative, the investment is a long-term one. Income from your existing cases will help bridge the gap in cash flow as you navigate the mass tort territory.
Your primary goal is to keep your robust personal injury practice running efficiently, so you have that income security to pay your overhead and potentially bankroll your mass tort marketing efforts. Ensure from the outset that you have the staff it will take to keep your current practice running smoothly and hire additional employees to handle new clients, if necessary.
In order to maximize your investment in mass torts, it’s essential that you optimize your intake process. Get your intake department staffed with enough of the right people before launching your marketing campaign. Inquire into your firm’s capacity to intake a much larger volume of cases than your personal injury practice before launching your marketing campaign. If you can’t handle the call volume, you’re wasting a ton of money on leads you never convert to signed clients. If you can’t manage the increased volume that comes with a mass tort marketing campaign, hiring a call center is a great option.
Examine Your Follow Up Process
Promptly following up with new clients instills trust and increases your ROI. Whether your law firm is completing the packet process on its own or you partnered with a marketing company, once you receive the signed packet, you must act quickly. People want someone that will fight for them and give them the sense that “your problem is now our problem.” Your first priority should be to contact that new claimant, introduce yourself, and start building a rapport. Before you start a mass tort campaign, you should develop a contact process because, as you will see, not everyone responds to your first few attempts to connect. Continue reevaluating each step in your process over time to increase efficiency and effectiveness.
Client communications might seem simple at first, but oftentimes law firms don’t communicate with clients effectively. In fact, the single biggest factor in negative law firm reviews is poor communication. Follow this process to maximize your results in connecting with your newly signed clients:
- Text new clients before you call. Do you send unknown callers to voicemail? Well, so do your clients. That’s why it’s essential that you text new clients first so they will be anticipating a call from your area code. The text should i) introduce you as the client’s attorney, ii) tell the client when you intend to call, and iii) alert the client to your area code.
- Call the client. If, even after diligently texting first, the client doesn’t pick up the call, leave a message introducing yourself again and informing the client you will send a follow-up email.
- Email the client. Familiarize the client with your firm and offer some additional times when you’re available to have a conversation. Emphasize the importance of getting on the phone so you can get the case moving.
- Mail the client a firm welcome packet.
- Alternate texts, emails, and phone calls at different times of day until you’re able to reach the client.
While the process of getting in touch with new clients can be frustrating, remember that they might be in a different time zone, maintain different business hours, or be unable to talk while at work. With all communications, create a sense of urgency to respond. In addition to encouraging clients to call you back, it will communicate that you’re on the same team and dedicated to getting their case resolved.
Intake specialists must develop an immediate connection with potential clients because you haven’t captured that lead until the clients signs your retainer agreement, HIPAA, and HITECH forms. A critical, component to a successful intake program is having intake specialists who can connect with clients on a human level. Some of the qualities intake staff need to succeed can be taught with close supervision and ongoing training. Starting off with inherently empathetic and kind personnel will minimize the stop and start of employee turnover and boost your ROI.
You obviously don’t want cold-blooded intake specialists. Instead, you want people who convey compassion, competence, and a sense of urgency to sign. If you’re just starting to look for clients in a certain tort, you might not have thought much yet about the plaintiffs’ experience. Consider the circumstances of a cancer survivor, for example. You have to meet your clients where they are, and they might have more immediate needs than to file a lawsuit. Reach out and make it easy for them to hire you.
Evaluate Staff Conversion Rates
Not only should you monitor your campaign conversion rates, but you should also track the individual conversion rates of every staff member involved with intake. These data points can be vital for rewarding those employees that do a great job, as well as working to improve the ones with lower conversion percentages. Having one or a few intake specialists consistently closing at lower rates than the rest of the team can be detrimental to your campaigns’ success.
To maximize your conversion rate, intake specialists need to convey a sense of urgency and reassurance to potential clients. People looking for a lawyer have typically been traumatized in some way, which makes it more difficult for them to trust you. To an injured plaintiff, a 30 – 40% attorney fee might seem exorbitant. Your intake staff should be prepared to explain to potential clients why it’s fair, and how they stand to benefit from your services notwithstanding the price. For example, claimants garner on average 3-times more with a lawyer than when trying to represent themselves. And remind them that your fee is contingent. If a law firm is confident enough in its results to risk not getting paid for working a case, that should go a long way in convincing clients to believe in that firm. In sum, your intake personnel should convey that your firm is going to do everything in its power to improve the client’s circumstances.
Set Goals For Initial Client Communications
Intake staff must excel at explaining next steps and setting client expectations. Claimants in mass torts tend to sign up with more than one law firm because they are confused, impatient, or have not received adequate communications from their existing attorneys.
Once you have received a signed packet, it is important to reach out to new clients as soon as possible. Before you invest in medical records, you want to make sure your claimants are fully vetted. First, you want to verify their contact information and see if they have alternative methods of communication. Second, you need to make sure they have not signed up with another attorney. Dual representation happens every day in this industry. Follow up with your new claimants quickly so they know their concerns are being addressed. After these two items are completed, have your staff confirm the client’s answers to your intake questionnaire.
A common misstep by law firms in any practice area is not giving people an estimated timeline. You can promote honesty from your clients by offering transparency. The truth is you don’t know how long it will take to resolve the case. But letting them know the next steps will reassure them and make them feel like part of the team. Plus, it sets the expectation that once the case has been filed there will be lots of radio silence while the Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee does its job investigating and litigating on the claimants’ behalf.
Intake through case filing is the most critical time for prompt, consistent client communications. A few goals to keep in mind for your first contact with a new client are:
- Verify contact information,
- Verify questionnaire responses,
- Check for dual representation, and
- Give an estimated timeline.
Getting a client in the door is just the first step to seeing a ROI. Running a successful mass tort practice is more than just signing clients; in order to maximize your ROI, you have to retain those clients for the long haul. Keeping them aware you’re all over their case will keep them from getting anxious and calling another firm. It will also limit the number of times they call your office requesting updates. Regular communication is absolutely critical to retaining your clients for the duration of the litigation. A good practice is to check in every 3 or 4 months. Even if there’s no update, it makes them feel like they are part of the process and know where the case is going.
With smart planning and execution, you stand to gain tremendously from starting a mass tort docket. Keep your goals front and center and track your metrics for optimal success.
About the Author
Brian Vogel is a Mass Tort Strategy Consultant. He holds a B.A. in Psychology, which he credits not only with helping him understand how people think, but —even more important — with teaching him how to listen. Over the course of his career, Brian has been honored numerous times for his accomplishments in sales and consulting and has generated millions of dollars in client revenue. In his free time, he enjoys coaching men’s soccer leagues. He also contributes his time to various animal charities.