Not everyone who visits your law firm's website will want to contact you by filling out a form. Live chat is a low-stakes way for visitors to start up a conversation, and an excellent opportunity for you to generate more leads.
Live support software is a common fixture on business websites. It allows visitors to speak directly with a representative while they are shopping and exploring online.
The allure of this software is obvious. It’s a low-stakes way for businesses to communicate with their customers during a visit or even during a buying decision. And customers love it: 79% of customers prefer live chat over other forms of communication because of the immediacy it offers. It shouldn’t be surprising then that lawyer live chat is also becoming popular.
You should consider implementing live chat on your own attorney website. It’s a powerful tool for generating leads. You can use it to connect with potential clients without waiting for them to contact you by phone or email.
But first, let’s explore how and why live chat works.
How Does Lawyer Live Chat Work?
The software is relatively simple. You install a plug-in or place some lines of code into your law firm's website. This creates a messaging tool, or chat window, that your visitors can type into. It’s like Skype or any other instant messaging program, but it lives on your website. The visitor doesn’t need any additional software to use the chat window.
In most cases, the message field will stay fixed at the corner of the screen and open when the visitor clicks on it. It may greet the visitor with a friendly message and an invitation to chat. The visitor can type into the chat window whenever they want, or they can ignore it completely.
The important question to answer is this: who is on the other end of the chat window?
You can answer messages by relying on the agents employed by your live chat service or by relying on your own staff. You can even answer messages yourself by routing them to your office computer or a mobile device. We usually recommend that lawyers rely on themselves or their staff to engage in lawyer live chat.
There are two reasons we suggest this:
First, visitors will expect to speak to someone who is knowledgeable about your practice. When you rely on an answering service, their primary job is to convert that visitor into a lead. They may not be able to answer questions about when or why the visitor should obtain legal counsel. They may also have difficulty qualifying visitors, especially if they aren’t familiar with your practice areas.
Second, you have to be mindful of ethics when implementing live chat. Live chat is not a tool for providing legal advice. You have little control over what agents at an answering service may say. If you aren’t answering messages yourself, visitors need to be aware before they initiate chat that they won’t be speaking to an attorney. Make sure the visitor knows exactly who they are talking to, whether it’s a legal assistant, a lawyer, a receptionist, or an outsourced agent. Use names, pictures, and messaging within your live chat window to make this clear.
What if I Use an Answering Service?
Visitors must be aware that anything said in live chat is not a replacement for legal counsel. You and your staff are better prepared to stay within ethical boundaries when speaking to visitors. Most answering services are aware of ethical requirements, but you have no direct control over their responses.
If you do rely on an answering service, keep their limitations in mind.
Some live chat answering services are marketed specifically to lawyers because their staff is trained to field legal questions. These may be a good choice if you don’t want to answer your own messages. But remember that the agents answering the questions won’t be as knowledgeable as your staff. Many answering services outsource to other countries as well, which means there could also be a language barrier.
Before signing up for an answering service, do research into who will be addressing the messages. Don’t hesitate to ask the service directly.
When Should You Use Live Chat?
If your website has a high bounce rate, lawyer live chat may be able to help. Your bounce rate is the number of visitors who navigate away from your website after viewing a single page. Visitors who bounce don’t typically engage with content or contact you. When you implement live chat, the chat option appears on every single page of your website, unless you choose otherwise. If a visitor lands on a blog post or a practice page, they are immediately offered an opportunity to engage and convert.
How Does Lawyer Live Chat Generate Leads?
Live chat is a more proactive lead generation tool than others, such as contact forms and listing your phone number. Instead of submitting information or committing to a phone call, visitors can seek help immediately. It’s an anonymous, low-stakes method of communication. Those seeking legal advice may be more willing to chat online than make a phone call.
Of course, phone calls are the most effective vehicle for obtaining new clients. It’s best to think of live chat as a bridge between a visit to your website and the all-important phone call. Ideally, a visitor will express the need to solve a problem by typing it into a live chat window. Once they’ve done so, you or someone from your staff can assess their needs and steer them towards a consultation.
How Much Does Live Chat Cost?
The costs vary depending on the service you choose. Some companies may charge you a fee for every chat session. Other services are completely free but don’t typically offer an answering service or much in the way of customization.
If you choose a pay-per-chat service, be sure to measure the success rate of your live chat sessions over time to determine your ROI. If other conversion opportunities such as contact forms and phone calls start to slow down after implementing live chat, live chat may simply be taking their place. You may also want to switch to a simpler model or a free one if you find that the money you are spending per chat session is high and your conversion rates are low,
Here are some services to consider:
What about Tracking and Customization?
Most live chat programs offer customization, but some more than others. Customization involves the alteration of the chat box itself and the way it presents itself on your website. Customization may be important for brand and design consistency. For example, you won’t want a brightly colored chat box on your website if you are trying to maintain professionalism.
Most live chat programs also offer tracking services. These are especially important for measuring your ROI. If you are paying for live chat, make sure you can keep track of chat logs and your conversion rates. Some live chat programs sync up with other web analytics services like HubSpot and Google Analytics. This allows you to track all your website conversion information in a single dashboard.
What if I Need Help Implementing Live Chat?
To implement lawyer live chat, code must be added to the backend of your website. Some website creation tools make live chat relatively easy to install in the form of a plug-in. The company that provides you with live chat may even implement it for you. At the very least, they’ll offer you a how-to guide so you can do it yourself.
If you still need help, you can reach out to an experienced web developer. They will access the backend of your website, implement the code, and ensure that it operates smoothly. If you need help with your analytics integration, digital marketing professionals can assist you.
Still curious about how live chat works? Find out right now! You can initiate a chat session with us right on this page.