John McDougall: Hey, it’s John McDougall, and I’m here today with Alex Hambrick, the president of DH Consulting and the vice president of Ngage live, and Amie Portis, the director of business development of Ngage live chat. And so today, we’re going to be talking about Ngage for law firms and live chat for attorneys. And so, tell us a little bit about Ngage live.
Amie Portis: OK. we are a 24/7 staffed live chat company. We work mostly with law firms, as you mentioned. And basically, we just put this live chat application on an existing website, so when a visitor comes to it, they get to have a chat invitation that will come up once they’ve been on the site a little bit.
We have a team of secretaries on our end that we keep staffed around the clock, who chat with visitors on the site so the firms don’t have to, and then we send the lead via email once we get contact information. Really, the point of the whole thing is to engage the visitor before they otherwise would’ve left or found another attorney.
John: How do you see that impacting conversions, overall?
Alex Hambrick: Most of the firms who renew with us every month are seeing that they’re getting more total leads after using Ngage than they were before. It doesn’t work for everybody. We’ve probably had about 10 percent of our firms fire us, but yeah, the firms that are sticking with us, they’re seeing that they are getting more overall leads.
John: Any standard percentage of lead increases? It’s probably hard to say, right? The general rule of thumb is leads increase simply by adding live chat to the website? Without even adding more traffic, you can potentially get more leads with simply adding Ngage.
Alex: Ngage, it doesn’t increase the traffic in any way. It’s pretty much just focused on increasing the number of conversions that you’re getting.
John: Do you always see more leads coming in when companies add live chat, even if the traffic doesn’t increase?
Alex: I wouldn’t say always, because, like I mentioned, it doesn’t work for everybody. We try not to tout a specific number, just because, if I tell you that you’re going to see an X‑percent increase and then you don’t, that doesn’t make us look very good.
We’ve got competitors out there who advertise that they see a 30‑to‑40‑percent increase in conversion, and we’ve had a lot of clients who have left us to try them out and then come back with the reason being that they were getting more leads with us than they were with those other companies. That gives you an indication.
John: Interesting. Those are pretty similar services? What would you say the differences are in your services?
Alex: There’s a lot of subjective stuff when it comes to chat, so I don’t pay too much attention when people talk about quality or whatnot, just because it’s hard to put a number on that. The people who have tried Ngage and tried other services, generally, the reason they tend to come back to us or switched over to us is pretty much just the number of leads that they’re getting. They want more leads. They want as many leads as possible, and they found that they got that through us.
Obviously, not the case with every firm ‑‑ we’ve certainly had people who have switched over and stayed with those other companies ‑‑ but from the people who have come back and told us why, that seems to be the main reason for sticking with Ngage.
John: That makes sense. We’re using it on a lot of the law firms that we work with, and it’s been great. I’m pretty much positive of this. Nobody that we’ve ever signed up with on Ngage ever turned it off, I don’t think, because usually when we add Ngage, the leads start coming through, and they’re highly specific, really good information in the leads. I think it’s clear that they’re different than a form‑fill or a call, and I think that excites the attorneys that we work with because again it’s very conversational and people are sharing really helpful information.
Why do you think it’s especially good for lawyers? I know you do work with some other industries as well, but I think your focus is lawyers, right?
Alex: Yeah, and I think it works well for any type of high‑value business. With law firms especially, advertising is pricey as you well know. You really want to squeeze all the performance you can out of what you are spending on marketing. That’s the whole point behind Ngage ‑‑ getting more out of the traffic that you’re already getting to your site.
This part is just speculation, but my thought is that I think in our society there’s still a stigma associated with pursuing an attorney whether somebody doesn’t want to look like they’re a litigious type of person or they don’t want people to know about their DUI or that they got arrested. They don’t want people to know that they’re going through a divorce.
Most of our chats statistically speaking actually happen during the daytime business hours. Again I’m not a psychiatrist, but my thought is that a lot of people don’t want to get on the phone for all of their coworkers to hear and talk about the fact that they’re about to sue somebody or talk about the fact that they just arrested for partying too hard last night.
They don’t want to share their business with everybody, or they don’t want their boss knowing that they’re not working when they’re at work. The chat provides a little bit of anonymity. It’s a little bit safer. Also, there are some folks out there who are maybe just not really sure whether or not they want an attorney just yet or more specifically whether or not they want to hire you.
John: That makes sense. That’s really interesting. If I heard you correctly, you said that most of the chats from your end are during nine‑to‑five hours?
Alex: Yeah, eight to five. It depends on the site and the market, but it’s between 60 to 70 percent.
John: That’s very interesting. We actually have had some chats a little different than that. That may be the big bulk of them, but we’ve also had chats two in the morning even for mesothelioma attorneys and various different things. We were going to shut some ads off on holidays.
Then lo and behold, Christmas Day or Thanksgiving Day or two in the morning on Christmas [laughs] Eve people are frustrated. They want to share their story and feel like they can make that first step. They say, “You know what? I’m going to reach out to someone,” and they do a live chat. It starts the process for people in a very easy way.
Like you said, you don’t have to pick up the phone. Maybe even if it’s not at work hours, picking up the phone is another level of commitment because you have to really converse with someone. Whereas with live chat you can just bail out of it if you feel like it, and you’re pretty anonymous initially.
What do you see the differences being in terms of getting people to take an action compared to on a website, the 800 number, the phone number, or a free consultation form? How do you see live chat fitting into the mix of the different ways that people can contact you?
Alex: Like I mentioned, the point is to get you more contacts overall. What the chat does is it gives people another avenue to take action and to get in touch. The people who are going to call you are still going to call you. The people who are going to fill out your form are still going to fill out the form. What the chat does is it captures those people who otherwise would have left or found a different attorney.
John: Yeah, that makes sense. We teach our clients about different calls to action at the top of the funnel, the middle of the funnel, the bottom of the funnel meaning the buyer’s journey. So roughly 95 percent of the web is said to be people that are either surfing the web, and about 80/85 percent of the web surfers out there are just casually looking around.
Then maybe another 10 or 15 percent are comparing. Now that they’ve figured out what they want they’ve narrowed down their search a bit. They’re comparing one option to another, and then really it’s more like five percent of the web is actually ready to pick up the phone or fill out a contact form and ready to buy or add something to their shopping cart and make a purchase.
So to me Live Chat is not quite fully the bottom of the funnel where it’s a big commitment like picking up the phone, or it’s even different than a form submission. It seems a little lighter, like they can just initially test the waters. So I think just my guess psychologically that’s part of it.
Alex: Yeah, and with the form, too, you mentioned the commitment involved with a phone call. There’s definitely a commitment involved with the contact form as well because you’re giving your contact information. Unless you go to the effort of making a fake email address or signing up for a different phone number, you’re exposing something personally identifiable about yourself to this law firm.
You’re basically giving control over how you’re going to be contacted. You’re giving control over that to somebody else. A lot of people are definitely comfortable with that, but I think there’s a big group out there who aren’t comfortable with the idea that they’re going to be contacted on somebody else’s terms, not their own.
John: Yeah, I agree. That initial chat where you start to just ask a question, again like you said, you’re not immediately giving up your name, your address, your phone number. That comes later after you get more comfortable. If you start the conversation just asking questions, that’s very easy to do and very easy to bail out of.
Then after you do that and you see, “Hey, there’s someone on the end of the [laughs] line there, and they seem really helpful.” So why not give them your contact information? But it eases people in a little bit, so that seems to be part of the beauty of it. So I just wanted to ask you a little bit about some of your other options. So you have Case Overflow, for example. Can you tell me a little about that?
Amie: Sure. We’ve got about 2,000 law firm websites using us right now. Of course not every chat that comes in on every site is relevant to the firm. So say you have a law firm in Boston, and somebody who lives in Florida chats with them. Case Overflow puts that person in touch with a lawyer in the Ngage network who handles cases in that area.
John: OK. Has that been going well? Or what are some of the recent developments with that?
Amie: It’s been going pretty well so far. We’ve had several firms that have told us they’ve gotten cases off of it. Of course there’s going to be some junk in there, but that service is free to our clients. We’ve made it free because it helps us keep control of it so we can tell them, “Don’t put junk in there because junk in is going to give you junk out.”
John: Yeah, that sounds about right. So I’m just trying to fully understand that product. So a lead comes in for a DUI attorney, but they’re asking for family law. What happens then?
Amie: What happens is the firm that gets it and says they only do DUI and it’s for family, and they don’t practice family‑‑they’re not referring it to one of their buddies‑‑has the option to put it into this Case Overflow system. When they do that, the lead is credited. They’re not charged for it, and then the visitor will get an email. It’ll look like it’s coming from the firm saying, “Sorry. We cannot assist you because it’s not in an area that we practice or an area that we service geographically.”
The visitor has to opt in and agree to be contacted by another firm within the network, and then other firms that have their criteria set up for that specific practice area and specific geographic area will get an email notification. When they get that, they log in and claim that lead, and the leads out of that system are free.
John: OK, yeah. That seems to make sense. It’s free, and it’s extra leads so more for everyone. That sounds good. Have you had good success with the Spanish Live Chat, and are you using just Spanish or other languages as well?
Alex: Right now Spanish is our only other language, and really it just depends on how big of a presence Spanish speakers have in your market and also how well you show up for Spanish search terms because I know in a lot of areas of the country Spanish speakers are in the extreme minority. Or you might have a lot of Spanish speakers in your area, but you don’t show up at all in Google for Spanish‑related search terms.
For example, we’re down here in Texas. There are a lot of Spanish speakers, and they’re a very quickly‑growing market. That’s why we decided to offer Spanish coverage 24/7 because we didn’t want to miss out on those opportunities.
John: We have an immigration law firm that we’re speaking with in Boston, and many of their staff are Spanish speakers. I think live chat would be great for them both in English and Spanish, and I’m going to be connecting with them to see if we can hook that up.
John: Let’s see. How does live transfer work, and has that improved your product?
Alex: Live transfer, what that is is rather than just ending the chat and emailing the chat transcript off to the law firm we actually get the visitor on the phone while they’re still in the chat session and then connect them to your law firm. That way you’re not losing out on people who lose interest in that time between when the chat ends and when you call them back.
I would say it’s a good thing and a bad thing. It’s good, and it’s an improvement in that when it works it works really well. The firms who are using it the right way are really liking it. The problem is when you have firms that aren’t staying on top of the live transfer because we’ve had situations where we set up the live transfer. The visitor said, “Yes, let’s get on the phone.” We do that. Then we’ve reached the voice mail of the firm, or we reach an automated message.
John: Yeah, that’s tough.
Alex: It looks bad for the firm because we’re making a promise, and then we’re immediately not delivering on that promise. It’s probably worse to offer the live transfer and then not be able to follow through on it than it is to just do the chat like normal. If you don’t have the staff available to handle these calls, these live transfers when they come in, it would probably be best to just leave Ngage as is.
If you’re pretty confident that you’ve got somebody, a live person, who can answer the phone with regularity during your business hours, for the firms where that’s the case they’re all liking it a lot.
John: There’s, let’s see, statistics showing that the amount of time that it takes to get back to someone from a Web lead significantly impacts your rate of conversations and conversions. I forget the stats, but in the previous studies ‑‑ I think it was based on an MIT study ‑‑ within an hour was the initial recommended.
If you get a lead from your website, call them back within an hour or contact them within an hour, and you’re going to have a really big increase in conversions. Deeper studies show that actually five minutes is a real significant sweet spot. So it’s just incredible…
Alex: I was going to say, an hour, that’s…
John: What’s that?
Alex: I was going to say an hour in the Internet is practically ages.
John: Absolutely. It’s something like seven times the amount of conversations if you call people within five minutes. So the problem that we see sometimes with law firms and our clients in general is everyone wants more leads, but if we’re driving leads and we say, “Oh, how’d it go? We saw some great leads come in this week.” “Oh, yeah. Oh, I guess we got some leads. We didn’t get back to the [laughs] people.”
It’s really important that everyone understand that it’s one thing to get leads, but following up quickly is really important. I think that’s why, even though you mentioned that the live transfer can be problematic and that might scare some people away because they’ll say, “Well, maybe this thing isn’t even worth doing.”
I think the advantage of it, if people could commit to that, would be a radical increase in the rate of taking someone to what’s already good as a live chat, but now you’ve got them really ready. They’re in the mindset to act.
Then if you go the live transfer and have an actual one‑to‑one conversation, that will save them from potentially ending the live chat, losing steam, going to five other websites, and talking to someone else in person. It really is I would assume a very big difference. If you could make that work, my guess is that could be a significant increase in conversations and conversions.
Alex: Absolutely. A new division of our company that we just started at DNH Consulting, we do basically consulting on the business, operations, and practice management side of things. That’s probably the number one problem that I see that’s consistent from firm to firm, is that follow‑up process with new leads.
For whatever reason, there are a lot of firms out there who just haven’t quite wrapped their head around this idea that if you get a call in at seven o’clock at night and you don’t follow up with them until the next day, or if somebody fills out your form during lunch and you don’t call them back for two or three hours, you’ve basically thrown that lead away more or less.
You still have a hail‑Mary chance of talking to that person, but the way I look at it is these people are not just filling out one contact form. I mean there are some people who come on. They already know that you’re the attorney that they’re going to talk to, but a lot of these people are just shopping around.
If you’re an attorney, just go on Google and search for whatever your practice area is. Look at five of your competitors’ websites. I guarantee you at least one, if not multiple of them, have either 24/7 answering services, or they’ve got some kind of giant intake department that is following up with people like that.
If somebody leaves your site and calls that big box attorney down the street and they get on the phone and they talk to an intake specialist, they’re gone. That’s your marketing dollars gone to waste right there. You’re basically paying money to get people interested in hiring an attorney only so that they can go off and hire somebody else. You’re basically being your competitor’s wing man by letting leads slip through the cracks.
John: I 100 percent agree. In my experience that’s a killer to campaigns when firms just don’t follow up fast enough. I think it’s potentially a lack of education, and it’s not really the fault of the firms initially because who would necessarily know that a Web lead is potentially quite different than…
Not that TV leads you shouldn’t follow up fast. But I’m assuming that compared to a television lead or a lead that just somebody sends them a referral, they’re going to be much more patient to talk with you than, like you said, a Web lead where they’re just bouncing around from site to site. Have you seen any stats comparing response times needed from TV or referrals or any other sources compared to Web firms or just in general the Web’s more extreme, right?
Alex: I’ve read studies. I think there was an AVO study done maybe a year or two back. We haven’t conducted any on our end of things, but really to me it’s just a common‑sense type thing. A lot of times it’s costing you 200, $300 per contact to get interest in your firm and to get people calling you or filling out your forms.
If I’m spending that much money, common sense tells me that I want to call that person ASAP and not wait a few hours. To be honest I don’t need a study to tell me that if I’m paying 2, 3, 400 bucks for a lead I should be acting on that as quick as possible.
John: No, I agree 100 percent. Any final thoughts, new things at Ngage as we wrap up?
Amie: Some, it’s just stuff that you can see, the new features that we have to offer. We can integrate in with Google Analytics. We can set it up so Ngage leads are automatically added into your CRM system like Infusionsoft or Salesforce, et cetera. As we mentioned before we have the live transfer 24/7, Spanish chat, just to name a few off the top of my head. A lot of the other stuff is going on behind the scenes.
Alex: We’ve got a pretty big department that tests stuff, just stuff related to the chat experience whether it’s the size and shape in the chat invitation or whether it’s an old white dude or a young female secretary‑looking person in the invitation. There are all kinds of little variables we’re testing here and there to see what works better.
Honestly there are too many of those little tweaks to even count. I know probably just in the last month there’s probably been at least two or three that I don’t even know about [laughs] to be honest.
John: Well, that sounds great. You guys are [background music] definitely deeply into testing and always making things better. Great talking to you guys today, and I appreciate it. If you want to give a call to Ngage Live, you can contact them at 512‑582‑4918 or check out their site at Ngagelive.com. Thanks, guys.
Alex: Thank You.
Amie: Thank you.
John: See you later.