Are you meeting clients’ digital expectations?
With ample choice at clients’ fingertips, legal firms are faced with a time critical need to stand out, especially online. Today’s most effective and successful websites are more than static shop windows – they actively help visitors find answers 247, engage in real time conversation and crucially, turn enquiries into leads.
While digitalisation of case management systems and the use of new flexible working technologies are underway in firms up and down the country – many are still proving slow to acknowledge that digital change is also required to the client journey, which often begins online.
Figures from the Law Firm Marketing Club’s recent What Clients Want research show just how important a legal firm’s web presence is. 69% of people expect firms to have a strong website as well as profiles of their people, plus they want to access direct contact details for their solicitors and support staff online. Both insights help to show how legal clients use legal websites. They not only want to read about a firm’s products and services to assess their relevance, but also ‘meet’ their team, understand individual expertise, and gain a sense of how accessible and client-orientated a firm is.
With that in mind, Bernadette Bennett, head of the legal sector at outsourced communications provider Moneypenny, which provides telephone answering and live chat support to more than 1,000 UK legal firms, shares three ways to meet the digital needs and expectations of clients:
- Recognise 24/7 expectations. After the pandemic experiences of the last few years, we’ve become less constrained by the 9-5 and more expectant of 24/7 service. While it’s not practical to have solicitors working around the clock, firms do need to be accessible on clients’ terms. Accessibility, in the first instance, can be achieved by ensuring websites are up to date, easy to read, highly informative and easy to navigate. The use of enquiry forms, call back services, chatbots and live chat can also help to make visitors feel their enquiries have been valued, recognised, and logged. Recognising clients’ increasingly 24/7 behaviours (i.e., people carry out ‘life admin’ at all times of day and night) is the founding step to improving digital presence and relevance.
- Understand how people make decisions. Imbued in tip one is the need to understand how people make decisions about where to procure legal services. While the power of personal referrals is still strong, so too is the use of review sites such as Review Solicitors, the websites of firms themselves and simple Google searches. When firms understand this, they can start to ensure that their digital presence is relevant and ready to help – so for example: if Review Solicitors is a prime referrer, firms can proactively ask happy clients to leave a review, they can ensure websites have easy to understand information and live chat function, and they can ensure that when Google searchers press ‘click to call’, they’ll be met with the best customer care and call handling.
- Start the conversation. 53% of clients expect live chat on legal firms’ websites, according to data from the What Clients Want report. So, if people are landing on a firm’s website, it needs to engage them quickly to capture that enquiry before they head to a competitor. Whether it’s a general ‘can we help you?’ live chat pop-up on the homepage, or more strategic use on service pages with tailored messages – live chat encourages visitors who wouldn’t otherwise take the time to email or call, to reach out. Proactively starting the conversation via live chat shows a firm that’s ready to help and that each enquiry matters. And as live chat generates six times more engagement than websites without it – this simple addition meets clients’ digital expectations and pays commercial dividends, too.
Bernadette concludes: “We’ve seen a marked increase in the uptake of legal live chat since the start of 2020 – proof that the legal client journey is undergoing digital change for the better.
“As a new year gets underway, it’s timely for firms to revaluate the efficiency of their websites, how well they are generating leads and whether they are meeting clients’ digital expectations. Live chat offers the means for legal firms to do that, as well as give their business a voice and be accessible at all times of day and night. It is by offering positive and engaging website experiences, that firms can turn online enquiries into leads. Once firms make the connection between web visitors and paying clients, they’ll see the need for greater digital change.”