I should be clear that the answer is almost always yes, live chat for law firms is worthwhile. However, there are a few things you really need to keep in mind…
Yes, keeping in mind…
1) You may not see a drastic increase in leads
2) Live Chat providers do not market your firm, nor generate additional traffic
3) You may notice an increase in the percentage of low-quality leads
Will My Law Firm See An Increase In Leads After Adding Live Chat?
Yes, but not a drastic increase. Keep in mind that a large percentage of people genuinely interested in retaining your firm will usually initiate contact whether there’s a live chat feature on your website or not.
For instance, your 10 most-profitable clients last month didn’t place much value on you not having live chat software, did they?
Makes sense if you think about it. Put yourself in the client’s shoes… Imagine you’ve got a very serious legal matter. You’ve done your research on the best firms in the area. You’ve chosen which firm you’d like to contact first about your case. It’s very likely that your decision to contact this firm is not contingent on whether or not they offer live chat on their website.
Quick insight: generally speaking (there are caveats, of course) the most highly-qualified* leads will call your firm over all else. I.e. the more serious the case, the more likely someone is to invest their time in a phone call as opposed to sending a few quick messages via chat. Why? Because they’ve got a very serious legal matter and are thus willing to invest time in vetting potential attorneys, get a feel for the firm, have a few preliminary questions answered, etc.
*highly-qualified = likely to have a good case and therefore the most-desirable leads
Live Chat Will Not Help Grow Your Brand, Audience, Or Website Visitors
Live Chat providers facilitate the chat; they do not generate the chat. Nor do they generate the click that drove the visitor to your site. They also do not grow your audience or increase brand awareness.
Make no mistake, that all is fine. That’s not the job of a live chat anyway (it’s your legal marketing agency’s job). But, it’s still important to keep in mind. (read why in the insight section below)
Quick insight: a large reason for pointing this out is because of how some live chat providers word their reports. For example, a weekly e-mail from the chat company with a line that reads “ACME Live Chat Generated X Number Of Leads This Week.” That is misleading. As mentioned, live chat operators do not generate live chat leads, they facilitate them. If 100 people contact your law firm via phone call, you wouldn’t expect a report from your telephone provider claiming they “Got You 100 Leads,” would you?
You May Get A Fair Amount Of “Tire-Kickers”
Sometimes live chat garners questions or inquiries from people that simply aren’t important enough to warrant an actual phone call. Less-important inquiries can sometimes mean less-qualified leads (or even unqualified leads). Some examples…
- “Hi, does your firm handle pro bono work?”
- “Can I change my appointment time?”
- “I had a hair in my burger, can I sue the restaurant?”
- “My neighbor plays his music too loud, can I press charges?”
- “Is this the law firm that’s on Main Street by the car wash?”
That’s not to say that good leads don’t use live chats – they do! But there is typically an increased propensity for undesirable leads to perform a quick chat as opposed to actually pick up the phone and call.
Quick insight: make sure you’re not paying for these types of conversations if you don’t have to. Some providers offer the ability to mark a lead as being ‘unqualified’ or as an ‘existing client’ so you’re not charged for it. Similarly, make sure you’re not including those types of chats in any sort of leads reports. For example, if 100 live chats came through last month, be sure to subtract the unqualified ones from that 100.
Q: Use live chat or not?
A: Yes. Live chat is a nice feature and increases UX (user experience) for those who prefer to use it. The cost of the live chat service is often outweighed by the opportunity cost (however unlikely) of potentially missing out on your next highly-profitable client.
A Few Last Live Chat Tips…
- Do not use AI or ML-powered chat bots. You want the potential client’s first engagement to be with a human.
- Use a provider designed exclusively for law firms. That way, the operator will have at least some familiarity with answering questions about the law.
- If you can, avoid per-chat pricing plans. DMG has law firm clients that have grown to generate hundreds of chats per month as a result of successful marketing and advertising. $35 per chat seems reasonable if you’re getting a few chats per month. Grow your firm to a point where it’s getting 300 per month and that $35 per really adds up.
- Be prepared for hiccups. Live chat operators won’t be able to answer every question about your business quickly and accurately
- Be OK with some prospects (or existing clients) getting frustrated. The operators probably won’t be able to answer questions like “can I change my appointment time” or “what’s Jeff’s secretary’s fax number?”.
- Keep an eye on quality.
- If looking for a good place to start, our top three providers can be revealed by shooting us a quick email.