2. Jessie Hoerman, SimplyConvert Utilizing Chatbots & AI For Law Firms

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Jessie Hoerman was in a position that many of us would be jealous of. Her firm, Tor Hoerman Law, was swamped with enquiries from potential clients, but with that came a problem. There were just too many requests for her staff to sort through, which meant the clients she could help were finding themselves at the bottom of an ever-growing pile of contact forms.

In today’s episode, Jessie tells us how she tackled this issue and created the AI-based chatbot SimplyConvert. We talk about the benefits of AI for law firms, how attorneys could be using chatbots to source out-of-hours leads, and we discuss her firm’s philanthropic efforts in the community.

Transcript

Chris Dreyer

Getting leads and prospective clients is vital for any law firm. And it can be tempting to cast your marketing net far and wide, but the truth is not all leads are created equal. Sometimes you might have to sift through hundreds of inquiries before you find a client you can actually help. And that can result in a lot of wasted energy time and money.This was the exact problem today’s guest came up against. She was generating a ton of leads, but it was taking a toll on the staff and they simply couldn’t keep up with the number of inquiries they were getting.

Jessie Hoerman

We were very busy trying to bring in more and more leads, which was, as it turns out, maybe not a great thing, but we were convinced that to be successful. We had to bring in a ton of leads. We did it by rocking the organic world, paid advertising. We were all over blogging and social media. And we turned our client intake funnel into total chaos. And I actually started listening to staff about a few years ago and they were yelling at me and saying they couldn’t keep up. They couldn’t prioritize it. They didn’t know what was going on with all of these leads and they weren’t turning into clients. What we had been doing was not working.

Chris Dreyer

My guest today is Jesse Hoerman, founder and CEO of SimplyConvert. We’ll be talking to her about how SimplyConvert is helping lawyers around the US and why AI is a great tool for handling inquiries and much more. That’s coming up on the rankings podcast, the show where founders, entrepreneurs, and elite personal injury attorneys share their inspiring stories about what they did to get to the top and what keeps them there. I’m Chris Dreyer stay with us. With leads flowing in from every direction. Jesse had to find a way to consolidate incoming messages and filter out the clients at her firm, Tor Herman law couldn’t help. They needed to automate that system. And that is when SimplyConvert started to form.

Jessie Hoerman

So SimplyConvert was actually born out of the idea that we could do a better job organizing, prioritizing, and maybe even converting those leads into clients. We started out with automating intakes. From everywhere and we were pushing all of our intakes into one funnel. And then a few years ago, we also decided to develop a live chat replacement because when we ended up getting our system, we realized our biggest problem was the live chat. So in addition to our automated intake, we decided to build a chatbot that was able to speak with our clients better than the live chat agents. And it went into the same funnel, the same automation. And so really that’s what it is and why it was created.

Chris Dreyer

A full intake system. So chat’s just a component of it. Starting with chat in the legal vertical. Most attorneys are using Engage or Apex. So how is SimplyConvert different? First from Engage and Apex?

Jessie Hoerman

It was born out of a need to replace specifically Engage, but also Apex. What we had found was the live chat agents were close to like therapy sessions where the individuals would just chat endlessly. Never ask any questions that we needed answered. There was no scripting. We ended up reading through pages and pages of details that weren’t relevant. And truthfully, some of the times the agents, the live chat agents, who knew nothing about our business would give false information. It was something that all of my staff avoided reading. So if it was a good potential client, it often went to the bottom of the list. We are different because we start from the point of criteria based questions. We only ask the relevant information. We are born out of the idea that the individual that is coming to you is coming for a reason. And so if they find you to talk about a car accident and you’re not talking about a car accident, there’s no sense in having a conversation at all. So we are gathering proper information for the reason that the person found you and notifying immediately staff that need to get a hold of those individuals. In addition, if the, if the lawyer is comfortable with it, we can also provide contracts instantly. It’s just a totally different way of doing things. We believe that today’s legal consumer wants instant guidance. And so the client experience they’re looking for is instant guidance. Not a long, therapy session with an individual. In another country sometimes.

Chris Dreyer

Yes. That’s a great point. I love that yours is an AI based logic system. So how does SimplyConvert utilize that referral mechanism, maybe that’s missing from Engage your Apex?

Jessie Hoerman

Awesome. I’m so glad you brought that up. We are an all-knowing chatbot and we did that very purposefully. So as our chatbot grows and grows, as our community of lawyers grows, we are teaching the chat bot the correct information for every single litigation. We have over 50 practice areas now, and we continue to grow. And the reason for that is we could actually create this entire referral network on the backend so that the right lawyer is talking to the right potential client. And I think that’s important not only for a specific law firm‘s ability to diversify, but I think it’s also important because the truth is, individuals today find law firms for all sorts of crazy reasons. And they’re not getting the proper lawyers, but if we could actually be a part of connecting the right potential clients with the right lawyer or clinic, we could take a little tiny chunk out of this huge access to justice problem. I believe that an all-knowing chatbot is the right answer for law firms and for the potential clients.

Chris Dreyer

I think it definitely helps the consumer because they need legal assistance and they’re lost. And I think one of the things is attorneys are leaving a lot of money on the table from a referral situations, not only from activating those monetization periods, but also just reciprocity.

Jessie Hoerman

So I came from the mass tort world and the truth is a mass tort is really just a collection of individuals all over the country who have an injury. So there’s no reason they need to go to the mass tort lawyer, who they may be going to their local attorney. And that local attorney quite honestly, is probably the best person to have the initial conversation with their local person that’s injured. That said most lawyers don’t want to be mass tort lawyers and going up against these corporations, but we can connect them to that right mass tort, lawyer. And that’s exactly what you’re talking about. Leaving money on the table. That lawyer that’s having that initial conversation who’s connected to that client. That person actually serves a purpose as a referral attorney, and they should be able to get a fee for that. And so we believe that this chat bot could open up mass torts to every lawyer in every single city. And there’s no reason why it shouldn’t happen that way.

Chris Dreyer

Yeah. And I see so many just out-of-state leads that are just ignored and that’s just a lot of revenue potential there. So let’s talk about another situation that you have with intake. A lot of intakes, just staff up nine to five. Regular business hours. What percentage are we looking at that are contacting people in the after hours? How does your tool impact that 24 seven intake?

Jessie Hoerman

So I think that every lawyer should be looking at their own analytics to see the percentage of people that are coming to them after hours. We were at 65 to 70%. My guess is it’s probably over that. Now it’s 75% mobile and at least 60% coming in after true business hours. So any law firm that is not figuring out a way to service potential clients during those hours are going to lose them to other law firms that have figured this out. And what I mean by servicing them is not an overnight call center that doesn’t provide information or a live chat, because quite honestly, we also know that if you’re not providing real value to the individual at the moment that they intend to hire a lawyer, then at least half of them will keep on searching until they find a lawyer that can actually provide them guidance and stop that search. So, if you take those numbers, you’re talking about at least 60% of the individuals that are going to call you after hours slash find you online after hours. And we all need to be figuring out a way to solve that. So that’s where we fit in that’s. That was one of the reasons why we knew that we had to provide actual guidance after hours and that’s what we’ve been doing.

Chris Dreyer

We learned about what SimplyConvert does and how it can help getting those leads even after hours. But I wanted to dive a bit deeper to find out what really sets it apart from other chatbots.

Jessie Hoerman

I think that bots are super cool and individuals are getting more and more used to speaking to them, but legal consumers are coming with one specific question they want to know – can you assist me with “insert legal issue here” and lawyers need a bot that answers that question. The drift type bots of the world are generally programmed to talk about the lawyers or their reiterations of the website. They don’t answer the question. They’re not criteria based, or if they are, the lawyer has to actually do all the work of teaching it. And then changing it. So very few of them are what ours is, which is a criteria based, always changing all knowing chatbot they’re generally a one-off reiteration of whatever the lawyer’s doing. Maybe it includes videos. Maybe it looks pretty cool, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t actually answer the question. Can you help me? Which is why people are coming to find you. Some of them I’ve seen actually can get minimal information in calendar, calendar possible, going in and chatting with somebody further. But I don’t like that because the truth is we don’t need to talk to 100% of the people that reach out to us. There’s going to be a certain percentage of people that find you for a reason that you really just cannot help them. And it’s not effective to have your staff talk to 100% of the people that could find you online for every single reason. So we believe in sorting that out and being a little bit more efficient in responding to needs of potential clients.

Chris Dreyer

It sounds pretty intriguing, but you might be wondering where can a chatbot fit into helping my personal injury law firm. Well, let’s say, you know, God forbid you’re in a head-on collision on, let’s say interstate 64. How would that play out?

Jessie Hoerman

First, I hope you’ve already called the ambulance and you’re okay. I’m sorry to hear it. But the chat bot is going to walk you through the questions about how did the accident happen? It’s going to ask you, were you the passenger? Were you the driver? It’s going to ask you about treatment. And treatments real important. Every single lawyer has a different idea of which cases they want to take. And the nice thing about our chat bot is we can help every lawyer. We have some lawyers that only want to talk to individuals that have had ER visits and hospitalization. We have other lawyers that quite honestly are okay with like doctor visits. So the bot is programmed to sort those out for the specific lawyers, but let’s just say that you’re a high-end catastrophic injury type lawyer, and you only want those hospital injuries. We’re going to make that a lead one for the lawyer. And the next questions we’re going to ask is when did it happen? And in what state? And for lawyers listening, they know that those are very important criteria. For determining a statute of limitation. Sadly, if your injury on 40 happened three years ago, we’re probably not going to be able to help you. And the bot is going to be able to say very nicely – I’m sorry, at this point, it doesn’t look like we’re going to be able to assist you. And we’re going to cover our butts and say, you should check with another lawyer. But let’s say your injury happened last week. You’re probably going to be a great candidate for a catastrophic injury lawyer to contact you instantly. And so at the end of it, we’ll probably say you may have a case we’re going to trigger a notification to the law firm and more than likely. You’ll get a phone call immediately. You may also be provided a contract if that law firm is comfortable with sending out contracts instantly. You may be provided a contract within it that you can actually even sign there. So that’s what it’s going to look like as a person that’s injured and wanting a lawyer, you’re going to have instant guidance about whether or not the lawyer you found can help you. And that’s the goal. I think that’s what people are looking for and that’s how we provide it.

Chris Dreyer

I love that. So it just walks you through all the logic prompts. You get the information when you’re collecting that information. We’ve talked a lot about the front end, like the experience of the client and the chat features. Let’s talk about some of those backend features, the, the CRM aspect. So what information does SimplyConvert retain and how would that be helpful for the law firm?

Jessie Hoerman

Yeah, SimplyConvert is a full blown, uh, CRM on the backend. We didn’t know we needed to build that when we started, but once you start adding automation and collecting data on individuals, pretty soon you end up building a CRM as my IT guys can tell you. But it retains every single day information that you gather from the individual, from the very first moment that they enter our bot, we have the ability to track all of the conversations that happen with your staff. We have notifications, it houses, contracts, it houses all the emails and texts that go out to the client. We retain all of that information. And then we integrate with practice management systems because there’s lots of great practice management systems out there. We have no reason to duplicate all of that. We push all that information into whatever practice management system the law firm is using. And so that’s something we do during set-up is make sure that this is a streamlined process. We don’t want law firms living in two to three different systems – that would be absolutely against what we’re going for. It’s supposed to be simple. And so that’s pretty much what it looks like.

Chris Dreyer

So specifically, what are a few of those integrations to those main CRM suite? What are some that you integrate with.

Jessie Hoerman

So we’re an open API. We currently integrate with Filevine. We’re working with Litify. Anything. We have a Webhooks set up right now. We’ve heard every single one from our law firms and the extent to which they want to push, we will push. Whether they want to automate it or manually do it. It’s really a wide open and, and I’ve heard everything from every lawyer. Everybody believes they have the best setup and I believe them too. Um, so we can fit within whatever system needs to be fit.

Chris Dreyer

SimplyConvert is definitely a powerful tool and the story of how it came to be is a perfect example of innovation coming from adversity. But after all of that technical talk, I wanted to find out a little more about Jessie and how she gives back to the community. So getting to the personal side of things and switching over just a little bit, what are some of your favorite business books that you can recommend?

Jessie Hoerman

Okay. I’m obsessed with Jack Newton, his whole take on client centered law firms. I think that so much of the time we forget that there’s a client on the other end, at least in the intake process. I know law firms are really good at once clients are signed, we really focused on them. And we do that really well. We don’t do a really good job on that starting point. We do a lousy job. So I obsess a little bit about how to make that beginning conversation more client centered. And there’s a few books. There’s a couple more about humanizing that end that I’ve been reading up on, and that’s where I’ve been obsessing lately. A little bit too much, but that’s what I’ve been reading lately.

Chris Dreyer

That perfectly that’s intentional reading, right? So that directly aligns with what the experience you’re trying to provide with SimplyConvert. So that makes sense. I also, I was doing some research before our interview and I saw that. TorHoerman gives away 500 turkeys each year. And I don’t know if that number is rising. So is that something that originated from you as the marketing director there?

Jessie Hoerman

Yeah, we love that. It’s been going on now for seven years or so. It’s a really cool event. Yeah. We just love being in this community and I’ve always looked for opportunities to give back and the community. So yeah, the Turkey giveaway we’ve given away 500, 1000? It really. Depends on the year and what’s going on, what the needs are. We go out and feel around in the community and figure out what we need, where we’re needed. And, yeah, it’s been super cool.

Chris Dreyer

That’s gotta be such a good feeling too. One final question. Is there anything we didn’t discuss about SimplyConvert you feel would be important for our audience to know?

Jessie Hoerman

Call us? We’ll give you a demo. We just got back from ABA Legal Tech, where we got a top three prize for the new startup of the year. It’s been a cool experience talking to other creators of legal tech inventions. And I really do like that crowded. It’s cool to see where our mind goes, if you let it. So I think that’s about it. We’d love to chat with everybody.

Chris Dreyer

What an amazing piece of technology. And it’s so great to know that there are people out there like Jesse, who are taking the problems we face every day and finding innovative ways to solve them. I’m sure we’ll be hearing a lot more from Jessie and SimplyConvert in the future. You’ve been listening to the rankings podcast. I’m Chris dryer, a huge thank you to today’s guest, Jessie Hoerman for joining us. You can find all of the links from today’s conversation in the show notes. And we want to hear from you. What do you think about chatbots and AI? Are they the future for taking and sifting leads? Or do you prefer a human touch when engaging with prospective clients? Drop us a review and share your thoughts. Thanks for joining us. We’ll see you next time.

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