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Live Chat and Chatbots: Do You Need Them on Your Law Firm’s Website?

By Annette Choti

If you’re looking for ways to increase your leads and improve the website experience you provide, consider the pros and cons of live chat and chatbots for lawyers.

While transactional relationships were once the go-to, conversational relationships are becoming more common. Live chat and chatbots are helping law firms have those conversations with potential clients.

Keep reading to learn more about the benefits and challenges associated with live chats and bots, as well as some of the most popular platforms available to attorneys.

What Is Live Chat?

Implementing live chat on your law firm’s website allows your employees or an outsourced company to chat directly with website visitors in real time. Live chat requires an actual person, ensuring a customized response to every query. While you can choose to run the live chat on your own, doing so may put a strain on resources. Fortunately, there are companies you can outsource to. A few examples of live chat platforms include:

Ruby

Ruby provides online chat specialists 24/7, 365 days per year. With this service, you can provide website users with a live chat at all times without worrying about putting too much pressure on your staff. Ruby can also answer incoming calls and track important information while leaving your phone lines open for the people in your office. 

Apex Chat

Apex Chat provides live receptionists 24/7. The company offers a number of chat plans, so you only need to pay for the features you want.

LexReception

While LexReception is primarily marketed as a telephone answer service, they offer a live chat for attorneys as well. The live chat feature can screen and transfer phone calls, relay messages, answer questions about your law firm, and schedule consultations or meetings. LexReception is available 24/7.

The Benefits of Live Chat

The benefits of live chat directly stem from human-to-human interaction. Instead of waiting for a response from a contact page or interacting with a bot that might not have specific answers, live chat can offer solutions immediately. That immediacy ultimately improves customer support. When potential clients are pleased with the response they’ve received, there is an increased chance that they will become paying clients, resulting in increased conversion.

The Challenges of Live Chat 

The biggest challenge law firms face with live chat is ensuring they have enough people to handle chat conversations. While a single employee may be able to handle a few conversations at once, you need to have enough people to communicate with all users throughout the course of a day. You also need to determine how many hours a day you plan to offer live chat, as you may find that you received the highest number of queries when you were not planning on running the live chat. If no one is online to chat when a person submits a question, they will likely go elsewhere to find their answers. 

What Is a Chatbot?

A chatbot uses artificial intelligence to interact with website visitors through a prepared set of questions and answers. The goal is to direct the users toward the information they are looking for. While chatbots can initially seem limiting, quality chatbots can resolve complaints efficiently and ensure you have the information you need to follow up with a potential client. While chatbots of the past were only used when a live person was not available to answer requests, many law firms are now using chatbots 24/7. Examples of chatbots for lawyers include:

LawDroid

LawDroid provides automated conversations with its chatbot. You have the option to customize responses, and you can use the system across different platforms, including WordPress and Calendly.

Intaker

Intaker offers unique features with its chatbot that have the goal of increasing your firm’s advertising return on investment. Not only are Intaker’s chatbots responsive and intuitive, but the company also offers callbacks and instant calls. Lawyers have the option of receiving an instant notification when a potential client has reached out for information.

Gideon

Gideon is an advanced chatbot that gives your law firm the opportunity to get rid of its traditional intake forms. The AI uses your website, social media pages and directory profiles to provide real-time analytics — all while managing initial conversations on your behalf. Gideon is also unique in that it allows you to follow along with discussions and start chatting live at any time. 

The Benefits of Chatbots for Lawyers

There are a number of benefits to consider when deciding if a chatbot is suitable for your law firm website. To start, chatbots are convenient, as they are available 24/7. They provide instant responses to queries and can typically quickly handle a high volume of requests. Depending on your demographic, you can also set up your chatbot to communicate in multiple languages.

The Challenges of Chatbots for Lawyers

As with any type of technology, chatbots have their share of challenges. As mentioned, chatbots are able to provide instant responses to users’ questions; however, those typically only include frequently asked questions. If a visitor asks a question that falls outside the pre-existing paths, the user may leave without a positive interaction. There’s also the chance for confusion if a user makes spelling or grammatical errors. That is one of the reasons why it is often recommended only to use multiple choice options.

Live Chat and Bots – Why Not Both? 

As technology continues to evolve, it is likely that live chat and bots will morph substantially. However, that does not mean you cannot take advantage of the benefits of both now. The information provided above may clarify which option is best for your law firm, or you may decide to use both to see what aligns best with your goals. No matter which option you settle on, the benefits of modernizing your law firm website are more significant than the challenges.

Illustration ©iStockPhoto.com

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Annette Choti Annette Choti

Annette Choti graduated from law school 20 years ago, and is the CEO and owner of Law Quill, a legal digital marketing agency focused on small and solo law firms. She is the author of “Click Magnet: The Ultimate Digital Marketing Guide for Law Firms” (2022). Annette used to do theater and professional comedy, which is not so different from the legal field if we are all being honest. She can be found on LinkedIn or at annette@lawquill.com.

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