Earlier this year tech research giant Gartner predicted chatbots were set to be integrated across a quarter of all customer service and support operations by 2020. In today’s 24/7 economy and with customers’ high service expectations, can this technology be used by law firms to improve the service they offer?
Chatbots are computer programmes that are currently opening up a new era of business-customer interaction, by responding to text or verbal communication in the place of a human staff member. They’re great for directing customers towards relevant information and services on a company website, as they can help when a member of staff is unavailable. However, can they really help law firms where more complex enquiries are the norm?
One of our conveyancing clients, Chattertons, is currently trialling a chatbot for six months on their website – the snappily-named Chatty! Emily Baker-Gaunt, Marketing Manager for Chattertons comments: “Despite a chatbot not being the traditional way that our clients would think of contacting us, we have definitely seen an increase and improvement in interactions with our customers. The enquiries received are mixed, but a member of the marketing team can jump in at any moment to help with a particular query. If no-one in the team is available or, out of hours, the chatbot encourages the customer to fill out the enquiry form or will direct them to relevant information on the website.”
At Geodesys we offer property searches and services to conveyancing solicitors. Excellent customer service is at the core of our business. We haven’t yet entered the world of chatbots, but will shortly be introducing online chat. Mark Phillips, our recently-appointed Customer Services Manager explains why: “Online chat will provide our clients with another channel to interact with us, in a way that’s often more convenient for them. But, in order to make it as effective as possible, we are putting in place some guidelines for when the interaction needs to be moved to phone.”
For time-poor lawyers a chatbot appears to be a logical solution to providing a simple yet effective medium for responding to customers. It does however need to be considered as only one contact channel within an ever-growing raft of options. To be most effective, we would suggest combining chatbot technology with human interaction, whether online or in person. This really gives legal firms an opportunity to provide information quickly, in line with customers’ expectations.