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When someone needs a lawyer, they will usually search the internet. People searching for a lawyer want answers quickly. They do not want to call a number, find out an attorney is unavailable, and have to leave a message.

A Chatbot engages the potential client in a conversation and is available 24/7.

Many law firms are making effective use of Chatbots.

Keeping a potential client on a law firm's website

A Chatbot often pops up when potential clients click on a law firm's website. The Chatbot displays a picture of an attorney or a customer service representative and invites visitors to start a chat. Potential clients want answers in real time. They may be searching the website for lawyers after hours. They are not going to spend much time on a firm's website searching for those answers. The online users will bounce from one website to another.

A Chatbot is a way to keep the client on the website. The Chatbot allows the potential client to carry on a conversation. The Chatbot communicates in a human-like voice or by text. The Chatbot can ask basic intake questions, give directions and hours of operation, or respond to questions with information about the firm's practice areas and its attorneys.

The popularity of Chatbots

Tidio, a communications software for businesses, did a survey of Chatbot trends in 2019. The survey asked eCommerce shoppers their preferred form of communication:

  • 43.18 percent chose online chat, answered by humans or automated.
  • 39.61 percent chose email.
  • 26.95 percent selected a website contact form.
  • 18.18 percent selected phone.
  • 10.39 percent picked social media messaging.

People want answers immediately. They do not want to communicate by email or messaging and risk getting no answer or an incomplete answer. They do not want to spend time on hold or go straight to voice mail.

Getting more and better clients

When a potential client is searching for a lawyer, they may visit one or more websites. While keeping the potential client engaged, the Chatbot can vet the claim. The virtual conversation can elicit enough information that the law firm can tell if the claim is the type of case the firm wants to take. The Chatbot can schedule an appointment around the lawyers' schedules.

Having more time for existing clients

Chatbots can answer many simple questions, giving lawyers and their staff more time to concentrate on existing legal work. A Chatbot incorporates questions on intake forms into virtual conversations, relieving paralegals and legal assistants of the task of getting information from potential clients. The Chatbot answers questions a receptionist or assistant would field, like giving directions, describing the firm's areas of practice and answering simple questions, such as hours of operation.

Being available 24/7

No law firm wants to let a client get away. Chatbots are there for clients 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The Chatbot does not take lunch breaks or vacations. The Chatbot handles more than one user at a time. The Chatbot will not put the potential client on hold while it tends to another matter. The potential client gets answers immediately.

Launching a mass tort or class action campaign

Law firms use Chatbots to reach out to former clients when launching a mass tort or class action campaign. For example, a law firm can get the word out immediately when a defect is found in a certain model of an automobile. A law firm uses a Chatbot to reach out to its client database through a text message. The Chatbot can engage in customized conversations, alerting anyone who may be a potential client in the mass tort or class action. Chatbots are less time-consuming and have a higher response rate than phone calls, emails or mailings.

Making better use of marketing dollars

Law firms pay close attention to marketing dollars. Chatbots can be a sound investment. If your firm has informative blogs it can incorporate them into Chatbot conversations. Advertising on television and other mediums is expensive. Chatbots may allow the firm to cut marketing expenses in some areas.

Educating and engaging clients

A law firm can use a Chatbot to engage and educate clients. The law firm has an opportunity to show its expertise in a given area of the law. The Chatbot can share new developments in an area of the law, for example, the passage of a new tort or trust law.

Gaining feedback from Chatbots

A law firm can use Chatbots to gain insight about people visiting its website. For example, where the users reside, what services attract the most interest and how many users scheduled a consultation. The law firm can increase the effectiveness of a Chatbot by analyzing the questions asked and programing the Chatbot to be more responsive to the users.

Choosing a Chatbot

Here are some of the Chatbot services for law firms:

  • Facebook Messenger: A law firm can use a Chatbot on the Facebook platform. Utilizing a Chatbot in Facebook Messenger gives the firm access to Facebook users. The firm can use the information it gains to target its advertisements. Chatfuel is a popular Chatbot for Facebook Messenger. It is easy to use, requires no coding and can be set up quickly.
  • Botsify: Botsify adds the Chatbot directly to a law firm's website. Online users see the Chatbot when they go from a search results page to the firm's website. The firm can add phrases and sentences to answer questions more accurately. It has an alert to allow a human to take over the conversation when needed.
  • Intercom: Rather than answering questions, the Intercom Chatbot reroutes users to articles or FAQs. When necessary the Chatbot reroutes the user to a human for answers.

Learn more about Chatbot builders.

Tips for law firms using Chatbots

When integrating a Chatbot into its operation, a law firm should make the process as painless as possible for the users. The virtual conversation may be as simple as asking how the potential client would like to be contacted. The Chatbot should be easily accessible on the firm's website and placed where it is most likely to engage a potential client. For example, someone visiting a practice area page is likely looking for answers or an attorney. Let the Chatbot users know they are not talking to a real person.

If your law firm is not already using a Chatbot, you may need to take a serious look at this mode of communication. Chatbots are yet another way law firms can attract potential clients and keep their current clients engaged. It makes your firm more efficient by freeing up time for the staff to devote to more pressing matters. It also cuts down on the number of online users who jump from your website to another law firm's website.

About Author

Virginia Mayo is a contributor for Bigger Law Firm.

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