What can chatbots do for me?

Well quite a lot actually! They’re getting more and more sophisticated. In this article, we look at what’s available now and have a quick peek into what’s likely coming along in the not too distant future.

Consider what happens when online shopping for a new pair of trainers. Would you rather scroll through pages of options, only to find the pair you like don’t come in your size or are out of stock? Or would you rather ask a chatbot to help you find what you’re looking for – pair of lace-up  ladies trainers in a size 5, black leather uppers, good grip soles, under £50, in stock now, for delivery in the UK within 2 weeks.

Filters on websites are a self-service option, a bit like a chatbot. But a chatbot supercharged with AI and machine learning can search your website – or indeed beyond, to accessible data – and build a database of questions and responses beyond a filtering system.

I know what I’d choose.

Who’s doing what now?

Some firms are already using chatbots to capture leads on their website. We’ve installed chatbots which answer your clients’ enquiries about writing their Will. And when there’s a question the chatbot can’t answer, it presents a lead form for the client to complete which goes direct to a human for a response.

I just don’t have the time…

We’re all busy people and so are our clients, so imagine what the future holds.

James arrives home late from a busy day. He remembers he meant to call your office today to find out who in the firm looks after Contracts, but is based in Preston. It’s after hours now. Well, he could email but he’s not going to have time to check for a response tomorrow and he’s in Preston on Friday so needs to set up that appointment before he goes. Yes, he could trawl through your website to find what he wants, but he’s had a long day and really hasn’t the time – or the inclination – to do that. If you have a chatbot on your site, he could simply ask that question. And if the chatbot is clever enough, it might even be able to book him an appointment there and then…

Who’s using chatbots in business?

According to Forbes, BI Intelligence suggest that about 80% of businesses will use chatbots by 2020. By recognising key words from a user’s question, a chatbot can access a database of related answers to assist you in your search.

The aim of a chatbot installed on your website is generally to move the client towards their end-goal as quickly as possible. Whether they’re looking for services, pricing, the names of team members, the address, the phone number or answers to specific questions.

The Law Society says that, broadly speaking, the legal sector is using chatbots in three ways:

  1. For access to justice – some chatbots have been designed to help individuals with a legal problem who are unable to ask a lawyer (or whose issue would not be worth even the most modest legal fee).
  2. Professional search – legal research carried out by lawyers is often search query-based. Some of the larger legal publishers are enhancing their research tools with chatbot functionality.
  3. Client-facing chatbots – some law firms have been deploying chatbots to streamline the processing of new queries. This can cut down on secretarial time and ensure that legitimate queries are directed to the most relevant departments.

You will find there is already some great – and some not so great – examples in use today. We’re already planning for the next wave of chatbots.

If you’re considering the use of chatbots in your firm, best practice advice suggests that you:

  • Don’t try to fool people into thinking the chatbot is a live person,
  • Do integrate systems so that when the customer has given their details to the chatbot they don’t need to repeat it all again on a form or to a human being – except perhaps for verification purposes.

The future law firm will need to adapt. As Forrester predicts for Europe in 2020, it will need to be agile, in order to respond to market opportunities by becoming a data-driven firm. Just don’t forget your responsibilities in terms of cybersecurity, and if you’re collecting data, that it’s up to you to ensure it’s kept safe and that the client is in control of what it’s used for. Remember data leakage, consent and transparency.

The future is closer than you think. And if you don’t move with the times, you can be sure that your competitors will…

Martin Langan, Legal Workflow

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