I’ve mentioned this is our previous post, but if you are looking for more clients, you need a 24/7 intake call center working with your firm. Often times, especially in medium to large cities, clients are simply going through the list of lawyers they’ve found via Google, and the first one to answer and takes care of the client is the one who gets the business. There are a lot of legal intake call centers out there, and I plan to review as many of the services as I can.
Alert Communications is currently the first result in Google for “legal intake call center” and similar searches, so we know they are a major player in the industry. Based out of Southern California, Alert offers both client intake and virtual receptionist services. They mostly work with small and medium-sized law firms, and they can support English and Spanish call-ins. They separate themselves from the competition in a number of ways.
I’ve received a full virtual tour and consultation of their services, and done a considerable amount of independent research. Here is my review:
If you’re an attorney, you understand that not all attorneys are good with clients. Some can be emotionless, awkward, or lacking in charisma. And when I picture a call center, I imagine a warehouse in India with thousands of employees side by side, each of them with less charisma than the worst attorney. How can I trust that my clients are being dealt with the level of care that I myself would give them?
Alert Communications prides itself on its employee training, which includes empathy and terminology training. Designed in conjunction with a speech therapist, the empathy training teaches call center employees how to appropriately respond to potential clients for the firm. Since many of Alert’s clients are personal injury or mass tort firms, most of the people calling in will have been injured in some way. Alert trains its employees to respond with care in order to get the retainer agreement signed.
The company also makes sure its employees understand all the legal and medical terminology that may be used with the clients, including proper pronunciation.
The Service: Getting that Signature
Alert can receive transferred calls and also respond to potential clients who have input their information on the law firm’s website. If you’ve received a conversion from your excellent website design, Alert can call them back instantly to get more information, and ultimately, get them to sign your retainer agreement.
The company is persistent with reaching clients. If the potential client does not respond to the callback, Alert will leave a message and send a polite text message. If the client does not respond in an appropriate amount of time (the amount of time can be decided by you, the attorney), Alert will continue to call them back.
When the company does make contact with the potential client, the representative will walk him/her through the intake question and answer process. If the client meets your criteria for a new client, Alert can send the client the retainer agreement via email or text. The agreement can be signed by the potential client immediately on their computer or phone; no need for printing out the contract.
Nearly all call centers will tell you that they answer 100% of their calls live. This is true, but in many cases, the potential clients are immediately put on hold.
Alert Communications has a 97% no-hold rate, meaning only 3% of your potential clients will be put on hold at all. Of the 3%, the average hold time is 12 seconds.
The representative I spoke with at Alert also claims that Alert has a conversion rate (retainer agreement signed) that is 25%-30% higher than the market average for legal intake call centers. He was unable to give me the exact number, but he did say that the numbers will be made public in the coming months. When that happens, I will add it as an update to this post.
As a lawyer, I only want to pay for the time my employee spends working. With Alert Communications, you pay by the minute that one of their representatives is talking with your potential clients. You can customize the intake form accordingly so that you get the best bang for your buck.
Alert costs $1.70 – $2.00 per minute, depending on volume. If you get a lot of calls, the number will be on the lower end of the range. This price is pretty comparable to other call centers based in the United States.
Reviews from Others
While the company was rated highly on multiple websites, there were not a ton of written reviews, which is what I look for most. To be fair, Alert Communications’ competitors also did not have many written reviews online.
Of the ones I did find, they were generally positive. Two different lawyers said that they were consistently reliable, and they’ve been using the service for over 5 years.
There was a lone review, however, that was troubling to read at first. He used Alert as a virtual receptionist. According to this reviewer, who wrote a very detailed review in 2014, the company forwarded calls to him that were both out of his jurisdiction and not in his particular niche within Criminal Law. The reviewer also said that he made a practice call, and he thought the representative did not sound professional. When he expressed dissatisfaction, Alert did not adequately respond to his concerns, and he stopped using the service.
However, two months later, the reviewer wrote another review, changing his previous rating of 1/5 to 5/5. Apparently, Alert Communications has since called him back and profusely apologized for the problem. Alert admitted that they might not be a good fit for his particular niche within Criminal Law, and Alert helped him find a new legal intake call center who could better serve his needs. The reviewer was blown away by their sincerity and care with customer service, and he’s completely changed his mind on the company.
So take this review for what it’s worth: a very dissatisfied client who turned around to loving the company again.
Alert Communications appears to be in the top tier of legal intake call centers. Their attention to empathy and terminology, their dedication to getting the retainer agreement signed, and their claimed 25%-30% higher conversion rate are what strike me as the most compelling for an attorney interested in their services.
The sole negative review from 2014 is the only negative comment I could find on the internet. (There was another negative comment, but it was clearly written by someone who applied for a job at the company and was denied. It was obvious he had never used the service). For me, one negative reviewer, especially who completely changes his mind two months later, is not enough for me to be concerned.
I would highly recommend this service for the reasons described above. Empathy is a very important part of the legal practice that is often overlooked, and the fact that Alert puts so much emphasis on it is a very good sign. This emphasis on empathy, along with their good use of modern communication tools, likely explains their high conversation rate.
In the end, the most important thing is the conversion rate. Everything else is an added bonus. Alert Communications has one of the highest in the industry, so the company should be on every lawyer’s shortlist for legal intake call centers.
Click Here to check out their services.