Live Chat vs Automated Chat for Law Firms

Live chats allow prospective clients to interact with an agent online in real-time. Automated chats require no human interaction and the pre-made prompts qualify leads instantly. Let's discuss which is better for your law firm.

What is the difference between live and automated chatbots for lawyers?

There has been an ongoing debate over which is better, live or automated chat. The term live chat refers to when an agent is responding to the website visitor in real-time. Automated chat is programmed using artificial intelligence to ask specific questions. Every lawyer wants to know which will provide better customer service and maximize conversion for their law firm.

We won't answer this for you, but we will provide the information you need to make an informed decision. Several years ago, there were a lot of valid complaints surrounding live chat software. Since then, the legal tech industry has evolved greatly.

We are now at a point where AI-powered chats are often more empathetic than live ones. For many people, their biggest complaint was that automated chats felt impersonal, and that has since been resolved.

One Intaker customer recently said:

“I prefer these leads aesthetically and content-wise over what we were getting with our previous live operator chat, and I think the people visiting do, as well.

We don’t have people asking, “are you a real person?” and being lied to, and it seems that people are a bit more cooperative in providing information.

The drop-down menus and selectable options in the chat also allow us to collect only the essential information, streamlining our process.”

- Molly Siedlecki

When choosing which chat is right for your law firm, the main determinant is finding one that resonates with your target client. Once they have a positive experience and hear back quickly, they will stop shopping around and commit to you as their lawyer.

Now, let's dive a bit deeper into the primary differences between automated and live chat, starting with the level of personalization.

How much can I personalize my legal chatbot?

The level to which you can personalize the experience will vary depending on which chat you decide to use. Intaker is an intelligent chatbot and cutting-edge in offering geofencing, interactive video, and premium custom prompts.

The language will change based on the present location of the website visitor. If you only want to service specific states or regions, you can set parameters to only appear in those areas.

We recommend the video is made by the head of your law firm to give prospective clients a chance to get to know the person who will lead their case.

With custom prompts, you can change what is being asked depending on which website page they are on. For example, if you service personal injury and bankruptcy, the prompts must differ for those two practice areas.

Most people assume that live chats are more personalized because a real person is on the other end. In many cases, it is not a qualified legal professional but an outsourced employee with limited knowledge of the subject area. They are provided scripts and given specific answers to common questions.

80% of customers who have used chatbots report the experience as positive. That's just accounting for any standard chatbots. Consider how high your client satisfaction will be with a personalized one that showcases your law firm's personality.

You can personalize every conversation with live chat, but there is more room for error and communication mishaps. With an AI-powered chatbot, every message is pre-approved with maximum clarity and proven to convert.

Live chats generally feel sterile despite the human-to-human interaction because they try to remain on scripts as much as possible. Automated chat still establishes rapport despite not offering a back-and-forth conversation. It will capture all the necessary information to call the prospective client and be prepared for the case.

24/7 customer support with law firm chatbots

Another aspect to consider is time. Many people will look for a lawyer before or after work, so offering 24/7 support is important to maximize your lead capture ability.

Some live chat companies outsource to other countries to provide this around-the-clock service; others only offer certain daily hours. Automated chat is available anytime, twenty-four hours per day.

Handling complex issues

You might be wondering whether complex issues need to be handled by a live chat operator. Sometimes, it does alleviate stress for clients to know they are talking to a real person.

However, recent studies suggest that 62% of consumers would like to use a customer service bot rather than wait for agents to reply. Likely, this percentage will continue to increase as the upcoming generations are extremely comfortable with technology.

When handling complex issues, automated chats can help lawyers to understand the case by asking specific qualifying questions. They will then be able to reach out directly and ask for any additional information on a call.

Chatbots also provide a section where people can type out any additional information they couldn't convey through the prompts. Most people prefer this type of convenience over a live chat.

While some may argue a real person is better at handling complex issues, it often is not the case because the agent is not a lawyer and does not have permission to begin providing legal advice. Chats should only be used for intake, and the handling of complex issues comes after onboarding.

Uploading legal documents

One popular automated chat feature is document uploading. With Intaker, we offer this capability, so leads can easily provide all relevant information to get pre-qualified.

With a live chat, you might be able to communicate the content of your documents to a live person, but it's not guaranteed all of the information will be perfectly relayed.

With Intaker, you can simply upload the documents directly, leaving no room for mistakes.

Self-scheduling integration

Some live chats may offer the ability to schedule an appointment with the firm, however, this is not true for most. With Intaker you can integrate with scheduling apps to make the process seamless. The lawyer can input their availability and open time slots, so the client can easily select a meeting time that works well for both parties.

By offering the self-scheduling ability, leads are less likely to keep shopping around as they've already committed to an appointment. To learn more about Intaker self-scheduling, read our help center articles CALENDLY INTEGRATION FOR INTAKER and ACUITY-SCHEDULING INTEGRATION FOR INTAKER.

Cost comparison

It is almost always more expensive to hire a live person than to use an automated chat. Many live chat companies charge per lead, meaning for any ones that don't work out, you have to call and ask to be refunded. With Intaker’s automated chat, you only pay one flat rate per month.

Follow-up messaging

Once the chat is complete, Intaker will automatically send a follow-up text or email to the person depending on what you decide to enable. To learn more about this, you can visit our help center articles CONFIRMATION TEXTS and CONFIRMATION EMAILS. There is a template that can be personalized depending on what the law firm wants to convey. Some live chat operators might take the time to send an email follow-up after a conversation.

Summary of chat solutions

Live chat allows you to interact with an agent in real-time. They commonly handle three to four chats at once and have pre-made scripts for most conversations. The primary benefit is that the user knows they are talking with a real person. On the other hand, it often has a lag in response time.

Chatbots are more efficient and eliminate the possibility of human error. While you won’t be able to tell your leads that they’re talking to someone, you can guarantee consistent and quality service every time. They can also upload documents directly to the chat and self-schedule an appointment with the law firm.

If you’re interested in learning more about introducing an automated legal chat to your law firm's website, please reach out, and we will be happy to schedule a DEMO.