As many firms are considering which technology solutions could support their goals for 2022, the question of AI and chatbots often appears. AI can certainly help a firm with efficiency, and automating certain tasks can take the pressure off contact management. However, the problems begin when the bot comes into contact with your clients.
Law is personal. A client’s case is frequently loaded with emotional attachment and a complex narrative. A firm’s first task when securing a new client is to establish that they can be trusted with the client’s personal issue. This trust isn’t just built on your firm’s experience and reputation, but whether the client feels that you care about their case as much as they do.
A bot cannot build this trust – it takes real people responding with real empathy to forge that relationship. Hubspot research has shown that 8 in 10 people would prefer to speak to a human over an AI or bot. This preference can have a considerable impact on firms that depend on bots to handle the client experience.
At best, a bot may pass on a now-frustrated potential client to a member of your team, who has to pick up the pieces of an impersonal exchange. At worst, the potential client will just walk away. Eighty-five percent of consumers have abandoned a call after reaching an auto-attendant – normally due to a lack of faith that the bot can handle their more complex inquiry (Vonage, 2019). It can be hard enough getting potential clients to take the plunge and get in touch at all!
The Benefits of People, Not Bots
No. 1: Priority. Real people help to reassure a potential client that they are the priority. Not only was a human available to respond to their inquiry quickly, but that person listened, asked follow-up questions, and showed concern for their situation. This is the way to establish loyal clients who recommend your firm.
No. 2: Consistency. When clients see the same tone across all your touchpoints, they feel like they get to know your firm. Real people help to establish that consistency.
No. 3: Complexity. Real people can handle more complex issues than bots. Especially in legal intake, people understand nuance and can ask relevant questions to establish detailed information.
No. 4: Empathy. Tone of voice is everything. Potential clients can be very sensitive to a tone that doesn’t match the situation. If a client is describing the need to resolve a will after a family death, positivity is the wrong response.
Ultimately, legal is a people-centered profession. Much of a firm’s success depends on how clients feel their case has been handled by attorneys and legal staff. To that end, technology and AI should never replace people in the legal industry, only be used to enhance their effectiveness.