In this 6-part series, we’ll address how chatbots are changing the game for law firm intake. This is part 2, where we’ll discuss chatbot features to look for. In part 1, we defined what a chatbot is.
First off, a warning: chatbots are only just now starting to be developed in the legal vertical. This is very much a new segment of the industry. That means that you won’t find the equivalent of a Westlaw in the legal research field, or a Clio in the law firm management space. These are growing companies, that are adding features; and so, you may not be able to find, at present, a company that offers all of these tools we’re about to discuss in one package. This is aspirational, then, for the time being; but, it is likely be actual, in the near term. So, when you explore your chatbot options, ask about existing features, but also inquire about the product development timeline, when new features will be added.
Now, then: What should you be looking for in a chatbot?
You should be able to access a ‘no code’ botbuilding environment. There should be an interface through which you can build, manage and edit your bots. It should be simple, straightforward and easy to use. You don’t want to have to hire a development shop to build bots for you, and then continue to pay to get them updated. Neither do you want to code bots yourself. The chatbot tool you select should represent the happy medium between those two options.
Your chatbot should engage leads. Modern consumers prefer messaging, and you’re going to utilize a chatbot to give your leads that option. So, their user experience should be your primary consideration. Is the chatbot visually appealing when it launches at your website? Is it easy to navigate? Does the conversation flow? Can users upload documents? Remember, the idea is to provide a seamless engagement for legal consumers, not to make them wish for the old days of website contact forms.
You’ll also want to be able to brand your chatbot, so consumers can immediately orient themselves to the fact that they’re engaged with a platform that you operate. There is limited utility for you in making the chat service’s branding primary.
Your chatbot should qualify clients. Aside from providing a better consumer experience, one of the reasons you get a chatbot is so that you can save time triaging potential clients. A chatbot is a great way to avoid the excesses of ‘tire kickers’. Your chatbot should have classification tools available that can determine whether a potential client is worth your time. If you can use a chatbot to ferret out low value cases, that means you’ll only deliver yourself opportunities to engage the high value ones.
On a related note, you should be able to route those potential clients to the right attorney or staff person, via notification and scheduling tools. A functioning chatbot will notify lawyers and/or law firm staff when a lead has hit a qualification. At the next legal, your chatbot should be able to automatically schedule appointments for leads with the right contact at the law firm, setting calendar appointments for both parties. Your chatbot software, to that end, should include an internal calendaring system.
A modern law firm chatbot tool should include a lead inbox, with basic information about each intake. But, that’s where the data analytics should start, not end. Your chatbot software should track conversations, conversions and scheduled appointments. Beyond those metrics, your chatbot software should track the effectiveness of the bots you create: Are leads dropping out of conversations before completing them? Are leads dropping off at a particular question? Is it taking your leads too long to get through one particular question you’re asking them? Modern software should track data and analyze trends before delivering consumable metrics to law firms — and so should your chatbot.
Chatbots represent scripted conversations, guidance for law firm leads. But, what about when a lead asks the bot a question that isn’t in the script? Your chatbot should react, not implode. So, can leads skip questions? Can leads ‘go back’, or otherwise navigate the chatbot without having to answer every question in order? Does your chatbot provider use natural language processing to credit answers that don’t appear in the exact format expected?
Of course, no software exists in a vacuum any longer. Every law firm wants each new software tool it acquires to integrate with the other software tools it employs. While that’s always possible, it makes sense for a chatbot software to integrate with customer relationship management (CRM) software software – for additional lead management capabilities – and with law practice management (LPM) software – to convert leads to clients. Beyond that, opportunities exist for chatbot software to integrate with signature, epayment and document automation tools. As with any modern law firm software, there’s almost no limit on how extensible a chatbot platform can be.
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Now that you know what features to look for in a chatbot for your law firm. We’ll focus next time on why chatbots are essential for modern law firm intake. Stay tuned, right here.