Earlier in 2017, the Legal Ombudsman announced it was extending its live chat service to cover all service providers, as well as claims management companies. This was part of a three-year plan to make it easier for customers to make and resolve complaints.
However, many solicitors and legal firms appear to be much slower on the uptake when it comes to modernising their communications and taking proper advantage of technology in the pursuit of providing a better service to their clients.
Instant Gratification or Digital Reality?
“I think many legal professionals regard live chat in particular, and the internet in general as being about instant gratification,” observes Russell Mills of Chat Heroes, “and that’s a concept many of them are just not comfortable with.”
However, as Russell points out, solicitors must compete like any other business, and most people will now use the internet as their first port of call for information when considering legal issues.
“What solicitors should consider is the quality of interaction they can offer online, because that is what can differentiate their online presence”
“Live chat enables solicitors to attract and engage potential clients by responding to their online queries,” Russell suggests.
“Obviously, there is the potential for the involvement of legal ethics,” observes Russell, “but it’s a case of solicitors being clear from the start what they want live chat to do for them.”
What are Questions Worth?
People will use the internet to research legal issues and find someone to help them with them. Live chat is an enabling technology which helps users engage with an online business at an earlier stage in the process than if they were to simply read web content then decide to act on it.
“This sense of engagement is critical, because it’s a way of retaining your website visitor’s interest,” says Russell. “You can also see it as an opportunity to provide answers to the sort of basic customer questions, as a legal professional, you might not have immediate access to.”
In this way, live chat can provide a kind of virtual front-of-house service, while also performing a vital, marketing role.
“Live chat doesn’t have to touch on client confidentiality or other legal ethics, if you focus instead on it as a means of boosting your standing as a value-led business that puts its clients first. Focus on the functionality”
“Using a manned live chat function, with real people providing the resource, is a vital means of helping convert browsers on a site to clients,” suggests Russell, “once we get past the initial ‘are you a robot?‘ question.”
Some of Chat Heroes’ professional clients can now see how live chat works as a viable alternative to more traditional forms of communication.
Andrew Simpson, Partner at Mortons Law, explains, “Chat Heroes has helped us provide great customer service to our existing clients and also help capture people browsing our site and convert them to clients.”
We have been surprised by the amount of enquiries received during office hours, using Chat Heroes, which goes to show that “web chat” is becoming a normal means of communication with companies
“Dispense with any professional aloofness and consider the value you are adding to your online presence,” Russell concludes. “Live chat works for solicitors and legal professionals in the same way it works for other businesses. It engages your audience better.”
Alternatively, for more of Chat Heroes’ views on this issue, please read their blog, Do Chat Bots Really Work for Solicitors?