This week we will be testing and reviewing another call center or virtual receptionist service – Smith.ai. This company promises to innovate the call reception industry by combining the latest AI solutions with traditional answering service. Is this just a marketing trick or do they live up to the hype?
Continue reading for a detailed Smith.ai review and analysis.
The first thing you will notice about Smith.ai are their unique pricing plans. This call center doesn’t charge per minute, as is the industry standard. Instead, they charge per call, ignoring unsolicited calls, spam calls or wrong number dials.
Their plans seem to be affordable compared to their competition, with the starting offer costing just $70 and offering 10 calls and 1 transfer destination. The basic and pro plans are somewhat pricier at $180 and $500 for 30 and 100 calls, and 2 and 5 transfer destinations, respectively.
However, the main advantage of Smith.ai comes in the form of custom plans that they can create for you. This useful option combined with a 30-day free trial provides young lawyers who are only setting up their law practice with the optimal service.
You can start the free trial, evaluate the call statistics after the 30-day period expires and then request a custom plan that is tailored according to your needs. This level of flexibility and accessibility is hard to find with other virtual receptionist services.
No setup or cancellation fees are another notable advantage of Smith.ai.
You’ve likely noticed that most professional legal websites will have a chat pop-up in the lower right corner of the screen. This gives the potential client an immediate opportunity to convert into a client. In my experience working with using a website chat, those likely to use the chat are both prospective clients and current clients. Nonetheless, you don’t want to miss out on any opportunity. The price of web chat ($8 to $12 per chat) seems pricey at first, but one of these conversions can result in thousands in revenue for your firm. Mathematically, for a personal injury firm, you would need hundreds of non-lead-producing chats without a conversion for the service to lose your firm money. In other words, paying $10 per chat is almost always worth it.
Smith.ai provides both chat and virtual reception services (priced separately), in case you want a one-stop shop for your firm. Their prices are competitive, although other website chat companies offer flat pricing per month or per prospective lead (not per conversion). The flat pricing model is usually over $150 per month, which is not the best solution for a small firm. The price per prospective lead is often $20-35. For your firm, the best choice will depend on how many prospective clients use the web chat versus your current clients. If more prospective clients use it than current clients, then Smith.ai would be the wisest decision economically.
When it comes to features, Smith.ai closely follows the industry standards.
Their virtual receptionists will be familiarized with your business, use custom scripts, schedule appointments, gather data, and provide regular summaries. Spanish language support is available for the more demanding clients. These are all standard features, but Smith.ai has managed to find a way to distinguish itself from its competitors here as well.
If you’re availability changes or you want to update their call agents, you can simply send them a text, saying you’ll be busy in court in the next few hours. Or request that they send the calls directly to you, if you’ve got nothing else to do. There is no need to use any complicated CRM or interface with Smith.ai.
Unfortunately, Smith.ai does not provide 24/7 service, which can be a deal-breaker for some law firms and lawyers. The company still covers plenty of work hours: 5am – 6pm PT / 8am – 9pm ET, to be precise, but that’s far from ideal.
If your legal business relies on non-stop availability, you may want to consider other options.
Smith.ai integrates with more than 30 legal frameworks and CMS, including Lexicata, PracticePanther, Clio and many others. In addition, it is fully compatible with various calendar and scheduling apps, such as Google Calendar, Calendly, Schedulista, etc.
This allows you to create a more comprehensive view and follow your law firm data in the preferred framework.
According to online reviews, this is arguably the least liked feature of all Smith.ai. Unfortunately, this is the same complaint heard for most call centers. With their virtual receptionist service, you do not get a dedicated call center agent, like an employee of your firm. Instead, you work with a team of rotating receptionists who cover your calls, according to the preferences and guidelines that you provide when you sign up for their service.
This may not give you the personal feel that a dedicated call center agent or actual receptionist would, but it can still be useful. If you’re running marketing campaigns, which can create a temporary, higher call volume, you’ll need a team to be able to handle multiple calls at once. In such cases, Smith.ai won’t need to train new agents, as a number of existing receptionists will be able to handle your calls efficiently.
Smith.ai allows you to choose how you want to receive your summaries – through email, text or Slack. While it’s true that most lawyers will go with email summaries, it’s always useful to have more options available.
This is not necessarily a notable advantage, but it is worth mentioning for people who are trying to move away from the more traditional, email-based systems. Additionally, instant call summaries sent through texts are a neat option for people who who want to stay in the loop 24/7.
If you’re still unsure about Smith.ai and you’d like to consider alternatives, check our post on what makes a good call center or virtual receptionist. It will help you better evaluate call centers and their services.