A few months ago, I published a partial transcript of an interview conducted with a lead screener at a national Social Security law firm, which highlighted the importance of prompt and persistent lead follow-up. However, many attorneys and advocates struggle with converting “desired” claimants (i.e., claimants you would like to sign) to actual signed clients. Regardless of how many high-potential case leads you qualify, you will not witness an increase in signed case inventory, unless you are unable to secure representation documents from the claimants. I have heard from many attorneys and advocates about the challenges of signing cases from Internet leads and wanted to share what steps some of them have taken to overcome these obstacles.
This discussion applies not only to acquiring more disability cases, but also to personal injury cases, workers’ compensation cases, and other case types. To quantify performance with a lead source, we recommend analyzing three principal metrics:
- Contact Rate - the percentage of leads you are able to reach
- Desired Rate - the percentage of leads you want as clients
- Signed Rate - the percentage of leads you sign as actual clients
Some firms may utilize different terminology for these metrics, but the concept is essentially the same. Typically, firms will perform the lead qualification process over the phone and then send the representation documents in the mail. Others will schedule office appointments for the signing of retention documents to establish a face-to-face rapport with the clients. Even if you obtain high contact and desired rates with your leads and believe that a source is performing well, it is crucial to track how many desired claimants complete the signup process, as this will be the true measure of your expected case inventory.
Below are a few tips from attorneys and advocates in our network for securing representation documents more effectively:
Follow Up Persistently
In instances where desired rate is high but signed rate is low, it is usually a product of inadequate follow-up. Without continued follow-up attempts to remind claimants about the importance of returning representation documents, they may lose interest in the process, leading to a failure to return signup forms or to show up for an office appointment.
Some firms that have high packet return rates will follow up every few days for a couple months to continue reminding claimants about the importance of returning the documents. If you rely solely on claimants’ initiative to return the forms, you may be disappointed with your final results.
Create a Sense of Urgency
After qualifying a lead over the phone, you should inform the claimant that certain documents (e.g., SSA-1696, fee agreement, etc.) need to be signed before representation can occur. It is vital to stress that no work can be completed on the case and precious time could be lost (based on filing deadlines or statute of limitations) if the forms are not returned as quickly as possible.
- Electronic Signature
Since making contact with claimants is usually the most common obstacle that impedes success with internet leads, utilizing electronic signature can help maximize the percentage of desired claimants you sign. Some companies offer client management software that will send representation documents to the claimants via e-mail and permit them to sign electronically.
Although this may not be considered a valid signature in all jurisdictions for every case type, in scenarios where it is permissible, it could increase your packet return rate significantly. After performing your phone qualification, if you decide to accept a case, you can e-mail the forms while still on the phone with the claimant. This will eliminate the need for future follow-up calls to track down the pending fee agreements.
Some of our customers have reported other strategies for improving the packet return rate, such as sending packets in a bright-colored envelope or via certified mail so it garners attention in the mailbox and renders it more probable that the claimaint will sign. Others have even reported visiting claimants’ homes to pick up the signed retainers.
Increasing the percentage of claimants who return signup packets will yield more retained clients for your firm. Thus, experimenting with different strategies will help you discover which is most effective. If you have any questions about the tips mentioned in this article or would like to learn more about maximizing your packet return rate, just contact us.