Live chat is software installed on your website that allows visitors to make immediate contact with a live person through an instant-message-style chat window. Live chat services are normally staffed by trained call center employees who respond to visitors with prepared scripts. Some can also be staffed by dedicated members of a firm as well. Live chat has grown in popularity in the legal community due to its positive effect on website conversions and return on investment (ROI). The following four points are arguably the top benefits live chat will provide to your law firm.
1. Better first impression with your prospective client
Your prospective clients are seeking an immediate response. How many clients have you lost due to a delayed response time? Hopefully not many, but let’s face it, one is too many. We live in an immediate-gratification society. When people want information, they go to the Web. Live chat connects your law firm with potential clients and offers them that instant touch we all seek.
When visitors choose to begin a chat with your firm, you satisfy their desire to communicate their problem. Most experienced chat operators are then able to comfort the prospective client, obtain all necessary details of the potential case and forward it on to your firm. Potential clients leave the conversation feeling that they have been listened to, and reassured that an attorney will contact them shortly to assist them. This leaves a better first impression than filling out a contact form and waiting for a return call.
2. Improve your conversion rate and ROI from the Web
We often tell our clients that there are two major components to being successful on the Web. First, you have to be found. There are a number of ways to be found online, whether through search engine optimization, pay-per-click marketing, social media marketing, blogging, press releases, directories, Google+ Local or any other Web channel available for lawyers. Once you are found, however, you need to convert that potential client into an inquirer (component No. 2). You could bring hundreds of thousands of visitors to your site, but if the site isn’t converting your visitors into inquirers, the website is of little value to your law firm.
Live chat has been proven to increase conversion rates. A recent Forrester Research study suggests that44 percent of consumers on the Web seek live help when they are shopping online and consider it very important. The survey respondents suggested that having the ability to ask questions in real time while making a decision to purchase or choose a particular company was one of the most important features a website could provide. When a live chat operator welcomes a potential client, they feel engaged and are compelled to share why they are on your site. As soon as they engage with the operator, you dramatically increase the chance of collecting that individual’s contact information. This gives your firm the ability to quickly follow up and talk with the prospect. Some live chat companies actually guarantee an increase in conversions, assuming your site is already generating relevant traffic. Naturally, when you increase conversions from your site, you maximize your firm’s ROI from the Internet.
3. Differentiate your law firm
Marketing-savvy law firms continuously seek ways to differentiate themselves from their competition. Live chat has gained in popularity so quickly that some lawyers may argue that live chat certainly doesn’t differentiate one firm from another. However, the differentiation aspect I am referring to is the fact that live chat makes your firm available. Live chat is similar to having an online receptionist. Potential clients are often facing the most difficult situation of their lives, such as recovering from a serious injury, or dealing with a divorce, bankruptcy or a recent arrest. You can differentiate your law firm by providing an immediate response to their questions and comforting them in their greatest time of need.
4. Reduce your intake time and overhead
Lastly, hiring a live chat company to manage your chat intakes around the clock can take a burden off of your firm’s intake department and/or receptionist. Indeed, there are tremendous benefits to having your experienced intake professionals handle your chats. However, the benefits (in most cases) do not outweigh the costs. Allow me to explain. Would you rather staff additional receptionists to handle more leads where you pay them for a steady 40 hours each week, or would you prefer to pay an independent party on a per-lead basis? The pay-per-lead option is typically the most cost-effective. Additionally, data illustrate that the majority of chats are handled outside of the typical 8-to-5 workday. Having an independent chat company handle your live chats 24/7 will certainly help to alleviate unnecessary overhead, streamline your intake process and give you access to potential clients you may have lost without live chat. Additionally, there is tremendous benefit to receiving a chat transcript immediately following the intake. The transcript can be sent directly to your email and/or smartphone, giving you the ability to respond to the prospective client within minutes. This feature allows you to sign more high-quality cases and grow your business. We recommend that you make the leap and reduce your intake time and overhead by hiring a live chat company to manage those intakes.
Offering your website visitors the ability to engage in a live chat provides unparalleled customer service. It can help reduce your website bounce rates, improve your conversion rate and satisfy your visitors’ desires to be heard. Managing live chat in-house can be difficult, time-consuming and, potentially, a waste of firm resources. Several legal-specific full-service chat providers are available. Most do not require long-term commitments and will allow you to test their service and evaluate the results. I encourage you to implement live chat on your site and see if it is right for your law firm.
If you would like recommendations of credible live chat companies for law firms, feel free to see our article about improving your law firm website conversions with live chat.