Since the start of modern digital marketing, having live chat functionality on websites has been highly appealing to law firms that are concerned with conversions and adding a personal touch to collecting leads from their website. There are currently two popular options for live chat. Here, at PaperStreet, we use many of these tools on our websites, but unfortunately, they have major caveats.
Live Agent Chat
The most common form of chat functionality for the legal industry is a system where there is a live agent located offshore who is available 24/7 to answer the live chat. The agents respond based off a script the live chat company provides them. This is nice for prospective clients because they can talk to someone at any time of the day and the lead is sent to the law firm no matter the time.
The “live agent” is typing based off a script designed to collect the potential client’s information. Each lead can costs upwards of $35. As you can imagine, this gets expensive very quickly. Paying someone to collect data from prospects 24/7 often becomes too expensive for many firms to utilize for the long term. Cost, therefore, is a major drawback when using live agent chat.
In House Chat
The second most common chat system used by law firms is a live chat that employees in the office answer. This is typically a legal assistant, or a paralegal, who has the chat open in their browser all day and will answer it as leads come in throughout the day. This is very cost-effective at typically $12 to $50 per month for the related software.
However, while the costs can be significantly reduced, there are two drawbacks. First, the firm typically is only available to answer chat leads from 9am-5pm when they have staff in the office. After that, if someone wants to contact the firm, there is nobody available to answer the chat. This is only viable if you plan on having inquiries during operating hours. Second, there is a semi-hidden cost in that you need staff to operate the chat. This takes away from the core responsibilities of the legal assistant, paralegal, or attorney and is not always the ideal solution.
What Else is there for Chat?
Good question. As it currently stands, these two options available to the market don’t fully meet the needs of most firms and businesses. One is too expensive and the other is not practical since it is only available during business hours.
There is a new emerging technology called the chatbot that is at the forefront of collecting potential leads in 2018 and beyond. This solves the current market shortcomings through an intelligent software solution. PaperStreet is developing this service for the legal community and implementing on websites.
The chatbot takes the best features of the “live agent” solution and applies them to the automated software. The chatbot is available 24/7. It has a script that it is running off of that can be customized. It looks and feels like a modern chat platform while it collects all potential client data in a friendly manner – the same as an automated agent, but you don’t pay per lead. You pay one low monthly fee that covers all maintenance as well as the software itself.
Scripts are the Key
A chat session follows a script that guides the user through a conversation designed to convert the prospect into a lead. This is similar to interacting with the “live agent” but it is software automatically answering the questions and collecting the data based on what the user has input.
We go off a method referred to as natural language processing. There is no actual person answering it, but rather scripted responses and data inputs based on the way the user is answering the questions that our scripts propose.
PaperStreet writes the chatbot scripts in a welcoming, personal manner that does not make it feel like they are inputting robot responses. We have our team of writers create the chat script based on the needs of a particular law firm or business.
Right now the most popular software stack to build a messenger bot on is Facebook. You may build a simple bot that has a solid AI base. However, at PaperStreet we are not going to use Facebooks software stack initially. The reason being that Facebook requires messages to be routed through the personal account of the user in the chat session. This means that a user would need to be logged into Facebook to use the chatbot. The second reason we are not using Facebook is on mobile if you open the chatbot, it opens Facebook Messenger taking the user off your website and going straight to Facebook’s application.
We are instead using a custom software stack that routes everything through your website. A user even on mobile will never be directed away from your website. We match the branding of your website with our Chatbot and our software stack integrates seamlessly. It does not feel like you are using a third-party application like with Facebook while still providing an equally strong AI/natural language processing solution. All of the leads generated provide an email copy of the transcript and are tracked in Google Analytics so all leads are accounted for.
Chatbots are Coming in 2018
The chatbot software is going to become commonplace for conversions and interacting with clients in 2018 and beyond. It is recommended as a low-risk solution in addition to your typical website contact forms. Please contact us today to further discuss how PaperStreet can help your law firm or business.