For client prospects I provide a complementary competitive analysis looking at a prospects competitors’ websites focused on a similar audience. I did one recently for a law firm where one of the competitors had a live chat feature. Today, I see a blog post touting live chat as a way engage more quickly and effectively with potential clients.
Here are some pros & cons:
- Allows the lawyer/law firm to immediately determine if a visitor came to the site because they have a pressing legal issue.
- Gets a jump on the visitor interested in hiring an attorney quickly because rather than having to wait around for an email or voice mail to get returned, the visitor gets an immediate response if the attorney is right for them.
- Related to the point above, the live chat is sold as a 24/7 feature so that when a visitor has a pressing legal need they get an immediate response – at any day or time.
- This communicates the idea that legal services are a commodity. This maybe acceptable for routine personal injury lawsuits, DUI, and criminal charges or consumer debt issues but not for most other types of legal services. Many legal needs require sophisticated solutions and an anonymous chat feature will not convey that nuance.
- It also communicates desperation, that a lawyer is so desperate for a “lead” that they are “available” 24/7 to answer any kind of legal question.
- What is the return on investment? What are the costs of such a service? How important is it that the chat function be handled in a sophisticated manner? How much more likely is the “chat” function to produce qualified leads?
Ask lots of questions and look at the totality of how you get clients, what works and what doesn’t before adding a “chat” feature to your website. You could well be conveying a message that will turn off a large segment of your potential client base.