Should Law Firms Use Live Chat Agents or Chatbots?

Lately, there has been a lot of debate among law firms. “Should our website be using live chat or a chatbot?” As the industry chat experts for over a decade, we took a look at some of our own internal data to answer this question. Here’s what we uncovered about chatbots vs live chat.

Pre-pandemic, customers expected more flexible ways of communicating with a business. And likewise, businesses were aware that they needed a way to ensure accessibility for all. However, since the spread of the Coronavirus, the need for online and contact-free communication has skyrocketed. People haven’t felt safe meeting in person and not everyone is going to feel comfortable making a phone call at the time of conversion.

For legal prospects specifically, seeking help and support for a legal claim can be daunting. Picking up a phone to discuss something so personal can create a barrier. Adding a live chat function can give your clients a less intrusive way of finding the information and the help they need to start their conversation. Live chat also provides a real human to talk with, giving clients a more personalized experience.

However, artificial intelligence (AI) has come a long way in recent years and a chatbot can help firms to automate this service. But does this automation come with a price? Are chatbots really able to mimic a live person and provide the same level of service and responsiveness as a human? Or do these bots appear cold, confusing, and leave a client wanting for a live human interaction? Let’s discuss chatbots vs live chat options.

Why you should use live chat agents

Using real people to conduct live online chats comes with a real advantage. They’re a live person using their brain. While chatbots attempt to impersonate real people, it’s nearly impossible for a machine to imitate human behavior. People build trust and rapport with clients. They are sympathetic, compassionate, and provide real responses to any number of unpredictable inquiries. This live interaction can give your firm a real competitive advantage in winning a client’s business.

It’s efficient, and not as expensive as you might think. In a traditional call center, agents can only handle one call inquiry at a time. But live chat changes all of that. Recent research has found that live chat agents can engage in as many as six simultaneous chats at one time! Handling multiple inquiries at once reduces support costs while still being able to provide a high level of legal service to website visitors.

Why you should use a chatbot

Chatbots can be highly effective, especially during what would traditionally be thought of as after hours. During this time there are naturally fewer members of a firm available to respond to client inquiries. Without a team member available and no chatbot active, website visitors are perhaps prompted to leave a message instead. An option which all too often ends without any action.

Since implementing a chatbot on their website, one firm in particular has seen 11% more inquiries than they previously saw during that time period. They have also seen an improvement in the overall quality of claims that come through during after hours. And if you examine the numbers across all weekday evenings, they are now seeing a 20% improvement on overall claims conversion rates and a 6% improvement on weekends. 

The data shows chatbots can be taught to ask the same kind of questions that Claim Team Advisers would ask, and respond according to the answer given. Or at least enough so that website visitors feel comfortable chatting and continue moving through the digital sales funnel. And of course there’s the financial advantage of a chatbot as well. Firms don’t need to employ a chatbot the same way they would need to employ a person.  


So who is the winner in the chatbots vs live chat debate? Ultimately, a live chat option is an effective conversion tool— especially if you have the resources to properly utilize it. And live agents offer situational adaptability that cannot be replicated. But as we look into the future of technology advancements, it appears very bright for AI-powered chatbots. Chatbots aren’t here to completely replace humans (at the moment), but rather a tool to help us save money, time, and energy. A role at which they excel.

So what criteria should you use to evaluate these two different, yet similar offerings? A lot of it comes down to preference. The fact is that online chat, be it live chat or a chatbot, gives people the convenience of another communication channel. It’s a versatile tool that will likely see their usage increase as a result of the challenges around the pandemic.