How we choose to communicate as a society is an ever-evolving process. With the rise in digital media, trends have seen more consumers turn to text, video calls, and emails as their preferred forms of communication. Is your firm doing everything it can to reach potential clients?
According to the 2021 Clio Legal Trends Report, consumers still prefer traditional forms of communication with law firms at the beginning stages of a legal matter, with phone and in-person meetings remaining the top two choices. Yet since the pandemic, consumers have become more comfortable with making first appointments through mediums such as texting, email, and website chat applications. Many firms may be hesitant to expand accessibility to potential clients on their website for various reasons, such as solo firms with no support staff who feel they don’t have time to field additional inquiries.
Studies show that, on average, people spend less than fifteen seconds on a website before deciding whether to look elsewhere. If your site grabs their attention and you offer services they need, potential clients want to be able to contact you quickly, often using a mobile device. With the increased comfort level consumers have with alternative mediums, it’s worth reexamining your website and contact information to see if a refresh is in order. Below are several do-it-yourself (DIY) free or low-cost options to make it easier for potential clients to find and contact you quickly:
Website TemplatesIf you are opening a firm or revamping your current site, consider taking advantage of website templates, especially those built for law firms and mobile friendly. Examples include Wix, Weebly, and Webflow. When choosing a template, be sure the services and contact information are easy to find. Specifically, services offered should be close to the top of the page, and contact information should be in the upper right-hand corner on every page, usually in a header.
Click to Call or EmailThe phone number on your website should be “click to call” enabled, so if the person is using a device with phone capability, they can directly connect by tapping the number instead of having to enter it separately. The same can be done with emails. Consider creating an intake email address, such as “email@example.com.” Setting this up entails addition of a simple code, so contact your website designer or review the instructions if you have a DIY website design application. See a sample explanation of the process on Wix.
Text MessageSince many potential clients now find you via their phone, they may want the option to send and receive text messages. Many Voice Over Internet Protocol options such as Google Voice can provide you with a text-enabled virtual phone number that is not assigned to a particular device, so you can receive text messages through the application itself rather than through your phone. You can set up auto-replies to inform potential clients that you will review their inquiry and respond if you decide to move forward, but until then no attorney-client relationship is established.
Website Contact FormYou can easily create a contact form for gathering information from potential clients, allowing you to make the initial screening through your website. Contact your website designer or review the options on your DIY website application.
Website ChatOften described as a “virtual greeting,” chats can provide potential clients with immediate responses to frequently asked questions and secure leads through real-time engagement. Depending on the application, chat functionality may include additional features such as text messaging, scheduling appointments and integration with your calendar, and tracking leads. These can be automated, also known as “chatbots,” or live:
- Chatbots − Chatbots are automated chats where you build conversations and gather the necessary information to screen potential clients without the need to review or respond in real time. Some applications may provide you with instant notifications when a potential client meets your requirements and is qualified to continue through the intake process, integrating with your scheduling applications to move the process forward. Some chatbot options built for law firms include LawDroid and Intaker, which also integrate with Clio.
- Live Chat − If you’re interested in a live chat application, you still build and set boundaries for the conversations, but a live operator is on call to gather the necessary information. Some applications have operators who speak both English and Spanish. Options include Ruby, Smith.ai, and LexReception. These also integrate with Clio and MyCase.
Don’t feel like you need to do it all. Try something out, see how it works, and adjust as you go along. If you do adopt any of these methods, remember to include disclaimer language on your website to avoid potential clients assuming an attorney-client relationship with you after making initial contact. We have sample language available on our website. If you have any further questions, contact a practice management attorney anytime! We are always happy to help.