With today’s tight, post-pandemic labor pool, trained, quality legal intake professionals are scarce. Law firms are increasingly turning to outsourced intake, receptionist, and onboarding services.
Jeff Mosler, CEO of Nexa Receptionist Holdings LLC (you probably already know their Alert Communications brand) explains how law firms leveraging the flexibility of a turnkey, pretrained outsourcing platform can maximize marketing investments, answer calls in just three rings, and carry potential clients from a curious call to a signed retainer. Stop wasting marketing dollars on lost leads.
Even for established firms, an outsourced platform – with the ability to engage by phone, web chat, email, and text – can help firms engaged in one-time, mass tort cases as needs ramp up then scale back. For big firms or small, a trained, on-call pool of legal intake specialists could be the answer.
Special thanks to our sponsors Law Clerk, Alert Communications, LawYaw, and Scorpion.
Christopher Anderson: Before we start the show, I would like to say thank you to our sponsors, Alert Communications, Law Clerk, LawYaw, and Scorpion.
Intro: Managing your law practice can be challenging. Marketing, time management, attracting clients, and all the things besides the cases that you need to do that aren’t billable. Welcome to this edition of The Un-Billable Hour, the law practice advisory podcast. This is where you’ll get the information you need from expert guests and host, Christopher Anderson. Here on Legal Talk Network.
Christopher Anderson: Welcome to The Un-Billable Hour. I am your host, Christopher Anderson, and today’s episode is about your team. Yes, you recall the main triangle of what it is that a law firm business must do. We have to acquire new clients which we call acquisition. We have to produce the results that we promised during that acquisition. We call that production. And we have to achieve the business of professional results for the owner.
In other words, in the beginning, we make promises. We inform potential clients about why and how working with our law firm businesses will make their lives better and then we have to deliver. We make promises about how it will be to work with us, what our brand stands for and why that will help them and then we have to deliver. And then, we learn that building the right team and assembling the right talent can be the most challenging part of the business particularly if we’re growing. So, our title today is How To Be Bigger Than Your Britches.
My guest is Jeff Mosler. He’s a CEO of Nexa Receptionists Holdings, LLC. There, he leads business and operations for the company’s three brands. You may have heard of them, Nexa, Nexa Healthcare, and Alert Communications. Prior to joining Nexa, Jeff served as a COO for Main Street Hub which was acquired by GoDaddy and the chief services officer for HomeAway/Vrbo which a lot of us, I know I have, during the pandemic have used a lot of Vrbo. He has also held leadership positions at Amazon and Microsoft and we’re thrilled to have him on The Un-Billable Hour. So, Jeff, welcome to the show.
Jeff Mosler: It’s great to be with you. Thank you very much for inviting me today. I’m looking forward to the next bit of time to talk about the legal industry, outsourcing, and how Nexa and Alert can support clients.
Christopher Anderson: Sure, yeah. So, let’s start there like with just to understand so that the listeners can understand like where you’re coming from. Your career has been varied. In all this background, what in your career has led you to be working in outsource talent and specifically to be able to talk to the legal industry about expanding their capabilities through outsource talent?
Jeff Mosler: So, my background is in engineering and business from Penn and throughout my career, I’ve worked in certain business functions and operations functions. So, whether it was at Amazon leading global outsourcing for the company where we had 5,000 folks around the world in just about every continent supporting all of the Amazon brands or leading the service expansion with HomeAway and Vrbo globally with the vacation rental marketplace. I’ve spent the better part of my career leading operations and leading these types of business functions which were very heavily focused on outsource talent as well. And so, now at a company like Nexa where we have a very large legal brand with Alert Communications and then a very large brand as Nexa for home services and realtors and other types of service providers, we provide outsourced services or what we call virtual receptionists to handle things like intake calls, customer service, scheduling, and we really enjoy and I enjoy helping clients whether they’re local SMB clients or enterprise global clients improve their talent, improve their productivity, improve their business metrics.
Christopher Anderson: Yeah, that’s fantastic. So, let’s actually focus there for a second. Yeah, I work with law firms across the country particularly since March of 2020 continuing today, one of the bigger pain points that they’re experiencing is an inability to expand their talent, to expand their team as quickly and with the talent that they want to. It just feels like to them like the talent pool that used to be there is not there anymore. So, what can you talk about regarding what being perceived as a talent and labor shortage specifically as it affects the legal industry?
Jeff Mosler: So, I think there’s a few things there. The first is we have a very tight labor market right now in general, certainly here in the U.S. The situation has been exacerbated by the fact that we now are hopefully coming out of the pandemic, but still somewhat in the pandemic and most folks are working remote.
And so, you have this combination of labor shortage and talent to support in an hourly basis for your typical front office or intake specialist role. The situation becomes even that much more dire in the legal category because to have a front office or to have intake specialists who really understand the legal industry whether it’s personal injury or mass tort, or some of these more intricate details is super important to be able to produce the right results for those clients.
And so, what we have found is that legal firms, law firms are having problems hiring talent, but also hiring talent that is trained up in the legal category. This is something that we take very seriously at Alert especially. We’re not only hiring our receptionists and our intake specialists to be able to work 24/7, omnichannel, so phone, email, web, text, chat, but we’re also training them up with specificity in the legal channel so that they can help with very specific intake calls. They can help with taking a potential client from potential to signed retainer. This is something that we focus on. And so, when companies consider outsourcing or even consider hiring their own talent, having people who both work in this sort of omnichannel manner, can work 24/7, but can also work in a way that produces results in the legal category, these are all very important.
Christopher Anderson: Yeah, yeah. And it kind of strikes me as you discuss it like, “Hey! Maybe this guy is hiring all the people that we’re trying to hire.” That’s the problem, but I don’t think so. I think it’s just it is. You described it nationally anyway. Pretty much global. Yeah, it is a very, very tight labor market. Are you seeing demand higher in some areas than other from your law firm clients, I guess to the kind of talent looking to outsource or in the practice area that they’re suffering the most?
Jeff Mosler: There’s a few areas that we’re seeing a lot of demand. The first area is your typical intake specialist role and law firm spend a lot of money on marketing, a lot of money to hopefully attract talent. I’m sorry, attract new clients.
Christopher Anderson: Oh, both. Yeah.
Jeff Mosler: Yeah, yeah. Attract new clients specific to let’s call it a mass tort campaign, attract new clients for representation. And so, we’re seeing a lot of demand from law firms on having talent do that type of intake specialist role that can take a person who calls in or emails from interested or wanting to have more information to what I mentioned before, sort of that signed contract or that signed retainer. So, that’s the first place.
The second place which is also related to intake services is having someone who can take a client through that first meeting with the law firm to get all the critical information, to progress through representation. That’s the second area. And then, the third area and we’ve seen a very large growth in this, is finding talent where we can answer these incoming requests and I mentioned before in an omnichannel manner. Sometimes, it’s coming through phone. A lot of times, it’s coming through chat or text. Maybe responding to a form. I think the age of 20 years ago where someone always contacts a law firm through the phone. I mean, that’s just gone away. And so, law firms are missing a lot of opportunity by just having a phone number out there. And so, what we can do with Alert Communications is we can do it through live chat, we can do it through phone, we can do it through form, and having that omnichannel approach which is interacting with customers where they are has been very fruitful for our relationship with our clients.
Christopher Anderson: Sure. So, you mentioned like three distinct areas and I just want to like — you said law firms are seeing demand in the journey from interested to — and you went all the way to signed agreement and a lot of law firm see that as two steps, right? As a sort of intake general information gathering which you then mentioned and then taking them all the way to actually becoming a signed client. You’re seeing demand in both those areas?
Jeff Mosler: We are. We are because part of our relationship at Alert with our clients is a very customized approach. It’s specific to the intake that they need for their potential clients. We’re focused on HIPAA compliant. We’re focused on callbacks if they need. We’re focused on the CRM integration with our law firms as well.
So, we’re not just a messaging service. We’re a fully integrated outsourced operation for our legal clients that we can — yeah, we can take messages for them, but really the value that our clients find in Alert Communications, it’s been a fully integrated operation within their law firm.
Christopher Anderson: So, how are you dealing with them? I’m sure a lot of law firms have objections and concerns about bringing clients all the way to having the lawyers that work for the firm outsource and not be involved in that process all the way to becoming a client. How are law firms dealing with that or how are you dealing with that objection?
Jeff Mosler: Well, for some law firms we are their answering service and we are that first step. And for some of our medium to larger clients, we have specialized training. We have a very custom approach to what those law firms need. We have a quality assurance process. As I mentioned, we’re fully integrated into their CRM or CMS system. In some cases, we’ve dedicated agents that only work for those law firms. And so, we run the whole spectrum. We have a shared model for some law firms. We have a very custom dedicated model for other law firms. And then, we have a QA process on top of all of our relationships where we strive to get the right results.
Christopher Anderson: Super! All right, so we’re going to take a break here and hear from our sponsors. And then, we’ll talk to Jeff a little bit more how the law firms are outsourcing these functions and also what other functions because I heard Jeff mentioned a couple other things at how law firms are a kind of structuring themselves to be able to do that. But first, let’s hear a word from our sponsors and we’ll be right back.
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Christopher Anderson: We’re back with Jeff Mosler. He’s the CEO of Nexa Receptionists Holdings and we’ve been talking about outsourcing and this is a problem or a challenge that I have when talking with a lot of the law firms that I work with personally, is this sort of discomfort with outsourcing the intake process on particularly the part, not the reception part, most people are okay with that, but the part of actually signing clients using a service external to the law firm. So, Jeff, what I wanted to talk to you now is like what have you had to talk about with these law firms? What have you had to discuss regarding their concerns or hesitations about removing — and I heard you already about your dedicated teams which I think is a great part of the solution, but removing the lawyers from that process of getting the client all the way to signature.
Jeff Mosler: Yeah, perfect. So, some of the early concerns from a law firm or from a potential client of ours might be, one, is there going to be someone who answers the phone and answers it in a high caliber legal pointed manner. And so, do we have people who are trained up in the legal category? Two, law firms spend a lot of money in marketing. And so, answering that phone within three rings and establishing connection with the client or potential client is extremely important so that law firms can maximize their return on marketing spend or advertising spend. Three, having a process that speaks to the brand and speaks to the tone and the voice of the law firm and to make sure that everything that we do at Alert Communications and Nexa is particular to that law firm’s brand, voice, tone. And then, four, ensuring that the stuff that’s done with an outsourced company and the ultimate product is as if it was done by someone internal to the company, someone who has been working for the company for three, five, ten years.
And that takes proper tech enablement, proper forms, a custom approach for that law firm, a custom approach to that mass tort campaign.
And so, we spend a lot of time on onboarding and configuration of our legal client to ensure that we’re taking the box on all of these items or as much as we can in that onboarding phase. And then, I would say the fifth thing is the process of continuous improvement because law firms learn a lot along the way. We learn a lot along the way with new campaigns, with new approaches, with new technologies that we use. So, law firms are very interested in our continuous improvement approach so that we can learn and we can improve. Sometimes, law firms feel like if they have in-house people that work for the company, those types of improvements are a lot quicker, a lot more efficient. The feedback loops are a lot more rapid. So, their often concern, “Are we going to be able to improve our operations and achieve the right results as if these people were internal to the company?”
Christopher Anderson: Well, that makes a lot of sense. And so, I’m sure that as we continue with that continuous improvement or the fact that they are having these conversations really helps to smooth the transition to some sort of outsourced stuff. I think I also heard you say earlier when we were talking that not only this initial intake and also the journey all the way to signing, but that you also served a role in general Q&A, like incoming questions, like you mentioned the omnichannel, like questions and inquiries and conversations that are happening across telephone, email, chat, text, but does this go beyond the intake process? Are law firms actually outsourcing ongoing Q&A with actual clients?
Jeff Mosler: Some of our clients, yes. And this is back on the answering service side and some of those questions can be answered with our intake specialists or our receptionists. But on some of the issues, they’re very specific to a case or they’re very specific to an ongoing billable project. And for those types of situations, we may refer the client back to the legal attorney. And so, this is part of the set up and configuration of what we do for each of our clients that we configure our technology such that when that call comes in, when that chat comes in, depending on what the issue is, there may be several dispositions of where we take that engagement. Sometimes, it’s an intake, sometimes it’s a retainer, sometimes it’s a general customer service, sometimes it’s a scheduling an appointment with the attorney, sometimes it’s a message back to the attorney to contact that customer.
Christopher Anderson: Okay. When you advise law firms, I’m sure at some point they come to the question of, “What can we outsource and what can’t we outsource?” How do you have that conversation? What parts of these other things you recommend that they not outsource for instance?
Jeff Mosler: Well, what we generally do is we try to understand the business problem that the law firm is trying to address. Maybe it’s very specific to intakes or maybe it’s very specific to handling mass tort campaigns or maybe it’s very specific to making outbound calls. We haven’t talked about our outbound calls that we do as well where we’re doing your typical outbound sales approach for a law firm. So, a business problem that a law firm might have is something very specific or they may be rethinking their entire front office approach, their entire administrative approach. And so, we start there which is what’s the business problem that we’re trying to address. And then, we overlay the potential options, the solutions, the offerings that we have at Alert Communications and we try to understand where that overlap is and how we can get the best improvement. It could be a cost reduction. It could be a sales performance improvement. It could be a return on advertising spend improvement. We try to talk about the business problem and overlay the potential offerings that we have at Alert.
Christopher Anderson: Okay. Well, that certainly makes a lot of sense. Did you mention anything like where you would say, “You know what? That’s not a good candidate for outsourcing. That’s not you really should keep inside the firm.”
Jeff Mosler: Right, right, right. So, when we get extremely specific and you brought this up in other question on do we provide legal advice, do we try to interject in a legal process. No, we would not do that.
And yeah, there are things that we would not feel comfortable doing. We try to be very clear on what we do well and we also try to be very clear on what we don’t do well so that it’s a win-win and we can generate the best joint solution between the companies.
Christopher Anderson: Cool. So, we’re going to take a break here, but when we come back, I want Jeff to start asking questions and then help to inform and instruct if they’re thinking about outsourcing, how do they vet a potential vendor or partner? Not everybody is going to use you guys and that’s the nature of things, but what should they do to vet whomever and we’ll have that conversation when we get back from this word from our sponsors.
Christopher Anderson: As the largest legal-only call center in the U.S., Alert Communications helps law firms and legal marketing agencies with new client intake. Alert captures and response to all leads 24/7, 365 as an extension of your firm in both English and Spanish. Alert uses proven intake methods, customizing responses as needed which earns the trust of clients and improves client retention. To find out how Alert can help your law office, call (866) 827-5568 or visit alertcommunications.com/ltn.
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Christopher Anderson: And we’re back with Jeff Mosler. We’ve been talking about outsourcing, legal outsourcing regarding all sorts of functions in the legal business whether it be intake, the initial intake, whether it be actually getting people all the way to deciding to become a client with a law firm or even Q&A and other processes. And so, what I promised we talk about on our last segment here is I wanted to ask Jeff to help the listener understand that if they believe through this conversation or through other things that they’ve heard that outsourcing is a good idea for them and I’ll tell you, Jeff, I mean my business, my law firms and my other businesses, we outsource a lot of the stuff that we’ve been talking about. But so, what could you say to law firms as to if they’ve made a decision, how do they vet? How do they decide what’s a good partner to outsource with? Because I’m sure there’s a lot of folks who’ve made some mistakes in that regard.
Jeff Mosler: Yeah, it’s a great question. So, one of the most important things from the get-go is to be clear on what the business requirements are from the law firm to be extremely clear-minded to have maybe a document to maybe list out with specificity what the law firm is trying to achieve. I think that clear-mindedness in the very beginning lends itself to affording for a very smooth process and maybe choosing the right partner down the road. So, being clear about the business requirements in the beginning.
Number two, then that will give rise to things like what skills are needed with a potential outsourcer. Which channels do you want to approach? Is it phone, is it chat, is it text? Is it 24/7 or is it just normal business hours? Is this on the weekends? Just be very clear-minded on the business requirements. And then, number two, what the potential solutions might be.
Christopher Anderson: Could a law firm rely on the business potential partner on helping them with those business requirements? Because a law firm might not really know what to include in that kind of a document.
Jeff Mosler: I think for the law firm to start out with being very clear-minded from their perspective on what they’re looking for before they engage in discussions with potential partners is super important. Because once you engage with potential partners, you may have the marketing or the solutioning of a partner that might be trying to sell something. That doesn’t go back to the clarity of what you’re trying to achieve as a business. So, I think for the law firm to start out at least with what that initial approach is before engaging with potential partners.
Of course, during the vetting process, maybe there’s a lot of good ideas that might come during that engagement or the law firm might come back and say, “Hey! You know what? We didn’t really think about that. That makes sense. Let’s think about that as well.” But that sort of engagement on what skills, what channels are we talking, weekends, what’s our approach, I think that’s sort of number two in the process.
Number three in the process is in the selection and in the selection being very clear-minded on what the statement of work is, what the pricing is, how the relationship is going to work, being very clear on this.
Because that way, both sides can understand, “Okay, this is exactly what we’re doing and they can agree and align on that.”
And then number four, this is post launch. Having a very good training program, having a very robust quality assurance program knowing how to leverage the feedback loops both within the law firm on whatever needs to be improved for the relationship, but also the feedback loop within the outsourcer to continuously improve the operation. Of course, a vendor will help the law firm along with this, but I am suggesting that the law firm focuses on this because this is what gives rise to more of that long-term stability, long-term relationship which I think is what most law firms want. There may be some opportunities to have very short relationships with an outsourcer, but when you invest so much time in establishing a partnership and establishing a relationship in training up those resources, more times than not, you want that to be a long-term relationship.
Christopher Anderson: Sure. And in what way like it can be difficult for law firm — particularly, you mentioned one area that some of my listeners are in which is mass torts or PI and in some areas with and it’s not those all alone, law firms have a need to rapidly scale up and then not be stuck with that scaled up talent pool as they digest a large pool of potential clients for instance and then get to working on them. How can outsourcing help to enable law firms like that to scale up and down? Like can you talk a little bit about that? Like how can you train people that fast, how can you acquire people that fast, how can that help a law firm?
Jeff Mosler: Right. So, I’ll answer certainly that question. There’s something I left out in the business requirements which is critical and speaks(ph) to that point which is the business model. So, in some cases, the business model that a law firm might want with an outsourcer, a fee model. It might be really good of a cost per hour, but in some cases the fee model which may suit the law firm better is a fee per minute, a pay-as-you-go, a fee per signed retainer. These are all different rate structures, but for the law firm to be very clear-minded on what’s going to achieve the right results for them, that fee model is really important because that gets to the question that you just asked me which is — okay, there’s an opportunity to leverage outsourcing to ramp up and ramp down or pay-as-you-go, or some days there’s going to be thousands of calls and other days there’s going to be hundreds of calls and you don’t want to be paying for unproductive time with that outsourcer. All of these is really important in that rate model to be able to leverage the most that you can in that partnership or that outsourcer.
So, for some outsourcers, they have a shared model which is they have a bunch of agents and their handling many clients. And so, they can ramp up, ramp down because there’s so many clients and while one law firm might be ramping down, all the other clients may be the same or some might be ramping up. And so, that type of outsourcer may lend itself really well for that type of operation. If it’s not that operation and it is dedicated to be very clear-minded with the outsourcer, “Hey! These are our requirements. We’re going to need 20 heads in this month or 50 heads in that month and this is the relationship that we’re going to have to ensure that you get the right relationship with the right outsourcer.”
Christopher Anderson: That makes a lot of sense. All right, I think we’re getting close here to the top of the show or the end of the show, I should say. So, what I’d like to ask you, Jeff, is what would you think would be a great key takeaway for our listeners? What’s one thing they like should really take away from the conversation that you and I have been having?
Jeff Mosler: Well, I think that outsourcing legal intake services has a lot of benefit for law firms to help law firms improve productivity, improve return on advertising spend, improve answer rate with customers and potential clients. And so, it’s something that law firm should take advantage of, but in taking advantage of to just be extremely clear-minded on what you’re trying to achieve, what the business metrics and business improvement that you’re trying to achieve and entering in those types of discussions and those types of relationships with those business requirements and business performance indicators, top of mind.
Christopher Anderson: That makes a whole bunch of sense. Thank you, Jeff. And of course, that does wrap up this edition of The Un-Billable Hour. So, thank you, listeners, for listening. Our guest today has been Jeff Mosler. He’s the CEO of Nexa Receptionists Holdings, LLC and particularly the brand that we’re most aware of in the legal business is Alert Communications.
Jeff, in case folks want to learn more about you, what you do or some of the topics we talked about, how could they get in touch with you?
Jeff Mosler: They can contact Alert at (180) 211-4563. They can go to alertcommunications.com or they can find me also at nexa.com, N-E-X-A.com.
Christopher Anderson: Fantastic. Multichannel. Thanks so much. All right, this is Christopher Anderson and I look forward to being with all of you next month with another great guest as we learn more about topics that help us build the law firm business that works for you. Remember, you can subscribe to all the editions of this podcast at legaltalknetwork.com or on iTunes. Thanks for joining us and we will speak again soon.
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Podcast transcription by Tech-Synergy.com