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    Will Live Chat Help or Hurt Your Marketing Efforts?

    live-chat-law-firm-websites Navigating legal marketing is like digging for gold in a minefield. There are a multitude of options and it seems like everyone has the silver bullet. The problem is that most of the marketing endeavors you discover are a waste of money; a land mine.

    According to a survey by the tech firm Software Advice, 56% of web users have used live chat to engage a company or brand. The feature is especially popular among millennials who are 20% more likely to use chat than a baby boomer. Live chat is gaining in popularity across all industries, but does it work for lawyers?

    As with most questions of this nature, the answer lies in the details.

    What Exactly is Live Chat?

    live-chat-example Before we get too far along, let’s quickly address what “Live Chat” is and what purpose it serves. Today’s world operates on demand. We don’t want to wait for our Amazon order, we don’t want to wait on hold on the phone, and we want to talk to someone who can help ASAP. Enter live chat.

    No longer do you have to fish around on a website for a contact form or even click the phone number to dial. When a site features live chat, a box will pop up in the browser asking some version of “how can I help?”

    To some, this is a helpful tool that puts them in contact with the information they need right away. Others, however, could see this as yet another intrusion in their already compromised web-browsing experience.

    It begs the question; what are the advantages and disadvantages of live chat for lawyers?

    The Bad

    Let’s start with the disadvantages to live chat.

    Questionable Value for the User

    Most live chat solutions for law firms are staffed by people who are not associated, at all, with the law firm. This means that whenever a potential client initiates a live chat, they are not going to get any actual answers about their situation.

    Live chat implemented this way simply replaces the experience of a contact form with an experience of actually “chatting” with a person. However, that person is not going to be able to give any useful information. The best they can do is pass along what the user says to you, the law firm.

    Intrusive User Experience

    Many legal live chat providers, nGage especially, preach the efficacy of the pop-over live chat. You’ve experienced this before: You hit a page and within a few second you get a big annoying pop-over asking, “HOW CAN WE HELP YOU”.

    While this may be effective in terms of pure conversion rate, it can also be off putting to some visitors, and who knows, maybe those visitors would have been great clients, but instead they got annoyed and bounced.

    Remember also that older generations are not as likely to appreciate live chat options, and even some younger people would rather use alternative methods. There should always be an option to easily dismiss the chat window.

    The Good

    Now that the unpleasantries are out of the way, we can move on to the benefits of live chat for law firms.

    Let’s take a look:

    • Customer Satisfaction – A live chat customer is a happy customer. In fact, chat customer satisfaction rates higher than email, contact forms, social media, or voice interactions. 92% of people surveyed by Zendesk report satisfaction with live chat interactions.
    • Conversion Increase – Live chat, when managed properly can boost conversions on your website by a measurable number. For some tips on effective use of live chat, see the list below.
    • Immediate Service80% of customers prefer live chat to other methods of contact because of the immediate results. They don’t have to wait for a response to a form, navigate through an automated phone system, or send an email and hope for a reply.
    • Increased Engagement and Client Support – With live chat, potential clients can reach your firm with questions even during off hours. Agents can take their information in real time so that you can follow up soon after.

    The Ugly?

    One must consider the potential for conversion theft. For this reason, accurate tracking and reporting are crucial. Adding the expense of live chat can be a benefit if it’s bringing new conversions or better leads, but if people are simply chatting but not signing on as clients, you may be better served to eliminate the option.

    Most websites, especially those that don’t have a high number of conversions, will benefit from live chat.

    For more on tracking conversions, check out this post: How to Track Conversions on a Law Firm Website.

    Wrapping Up

    Live chat is definitely worth consideration from attorneys and marketers trying to maximize the value of a website. As with any endeavor, individual results vary based on your target audience, goals, and the efficiency of your campaign.

    live chat bubblesTo get you started in the right direction, let’s check out a few tips for effectively integrating chat on your website:

    • 24/7 – If your live chat goes offline after hours, it’s nothing more than another contact form. Execution is the key when it comes to chat, and having agents respond around the clock is paramount.
    • Knowledgeable Agents – People use live chat because of the convenience. If the experience is frustrating, the interaction isn’t going to lead to a conversion. Provide agents with explicit directions and hire those with relevant experience.
    • Respond Quickly – Visitors to your site expect quick responses and swift interactions over live chat. Don’t let them down.
    • Monitor Conversations – Stay on top of chat agents interaction with your audience. You can handle issues in delivery and professionalism before they become a problem.

    TL;DR Live chat can enhance law firm websites by boosting interactions and conversions. The value you get from live chat relies on your execution. Reach out to talk to the Juris team to discuss the potential of live chat for your firm.

    Stephen King Steve King is the Director of Existing Growth at Juris Digital. He started his career in internet marketing as a copywriter, but found himself diving deeper into marketing in short order. After discovering SEO and content marketing, he was hooked. Steve is a firm believer in delivering outstanding content and website optimization in order to drive visibility.
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