How quickly does a business need to respond to a potential new lead that arrives on their site? To answer that question, there’s another more fundamental question that must be answered first: how much is that potential customer worth to that business?
“Leads,” or sales prospects, are not the same across different industries. If you’re a solo Shopify seller providing refrigerator magnets, for example, you probably don’t want or need to spend a lot of time thinking about individual leads – because that just isn’t cost effective. For many ecommerce stores selling physical items, it’s the same story. You market your store and your products, and design your site so that customers can quickly and easily make their purchases. It’s unnecessary to provide immediate and individual attention to every customer in order to guide them through the sales funnel – and it probably isn’t possible if you still want to be profitable.
But for other industries, individual leads are much more important. For lawyers, medical practitioners, and the financial services industry, for example, an individual customer could represent tens of thousands of dollars – or more – in lifetime value. For these high value “professional services” industries, it’s absolutely worth it to take extra steps to attract, nurture, and convert individual leads. And one of the best ways you can do that is by improving how quickly those leads can get a response from your company when they visit your website.
As reported in the Harvard Business Review, US companies that attempted to respond to potential customers within an hour of receiving an inquiry were almost seven times as likely to have a “meaningful conversation with a key decision maker” as those who waited an hour or more. Clearly, it’s worth it to do everything you can to respond to potential leads reaching out via your site quickly.
To immediately improve your “speed to lead” times, one of the best things you can do is to sign up for a live chat platform like Formilla. You can add a live chat widget to your most important site pages via a plugin and set up a chat bot to provide an instant response to site visitors 24/7.
Let’s take a closer look at how live chat and chat bots can benefit the legal, medical, and financial services industries.
If a person or business is looking for legal help, they’re likely to be a motivated shopper. People don’t tend to browse or “window shop” when it comes to legal assistance. If someone has arrived on your site as part of their search for an attorney, it’s likely because they have a legal problem they are looking to deal with quickly. So it’s essential that you engage potential new clients quickly and professionally, to get the interaction off on the right foot and to position yourself well to earn their business now and into the future.
Remember, the goal with adding a chat widget to your legal website is to engage with potential new leads as efficiently as possible. If you think of two identical law firm pages, with the only difference being that one requires a visitor to send an email or make a phone call in order to get their questions answered while the other provides those two contact methods in addition to instant chat, it’s simple to see why the accessibility of chat can make a big difference.
Because the law can be complicated, one of the best uses for live chat on your legal website is to gather as much information as possible about a potential client’s situation and needs. Use this opportunity to collect the information your firm’s attorneys will want to review in order to prepare for their first conversation with this new client. Since live chat platforms can connect directly to your customer relationship management software (CRM), all of the information from this initial conversation will be available for future reference. And if it turns out that this site visitor isn’t a good fit for your business, your live chat agents can politely direct them elsewhere right away – saving time for everyone involved in the process.
Of course you’ll want to make very clear that any information provided in your live chat is not the same as legal advice – and you might want to open every chat with a canned disclaimer stating that. Indeed, it’s very possible that your live chat staff consists of administrative and customer service staff, not attorneys or law clerks – and that’s okay! Keep your chat agents focused on gathering information from the site visitor and answering their basic questions, then look to schedule a call with one of your attorneys if that’s appropriate.
One thing you may discover once you have a live chat widget set up on your legal website is that many people are just looking to chat online with a lawyer for free legal advice. Unless that is specifically something you offer or a part of your marketing strategy, consider using chat bots as a filter to qualify a visitor’s interest before they are connected directly to one of your live chat agents. This is an example of how live chat and chat bots can work more efficiently in combination, allowing you to focus your live agents’ time and attention on the most valuable leads.
Chat bots are also great at basic routing functions. If you have a large practice that offers different types of legal services, it can be helpful to separate your live chat team into different departments. In this case, a chat bot can provide the initial greeting to site visitors before asking them more about their needs, in order to determine how best to distribute the new lead.
If you have a private medical practice in a specialized field, your website is one of your most important sales tools. Referrals are great, of course, but when it comes to attracting new business, you want to invest in targeted advertising that brings interested patients to your site – and then take every step you can to make your site helpful and appealing.
The lifetime value of a medical customer will vary depending on your specialty, and ranges widely between fields like cosmetic surgery and chiropractic services. If you provide premium services or have patients with high lifetime values, then it’s worth investing more in your up-front lead management, because it takes fewer paying clients to cover the cost of that investment. If you’re in doubt, do the work to calculate the potential lifetime value of your typical patients, and budget for live chat and chat bot support accordingly.
You probably already have a good sense of the questions patients are likely to have when they are actually in your office for the first time, but you may not be as aware of the questions they will ask earlier in the process, when they are still doing research. It’s at this stage where a fast, informative, friendly response via live chat on your medical site can be crucial as a marketing tool.
When visitors first arrive on your site, they will be looking to confirm that your medical practice is right for their needs. Take a look at online lists of “questions to ask your doctor” related to your specialty, and make sure your live chat agents are prepared with answers. This is especially useful because it’s likely that many patients will be referring to the exact same online lists that you are using for your prep work. Giving visitors quick, solid answers to every one of their questions keeps them engaged as a lead, and prevents them from bouncing off your site to a potential competitor.
Since many forms of medical practice involve an in-person consultation, a live chat conversation is also a great opportunity to lead a new patient to that step. Once your chat agent has gathered a visitor’s contact information (to populate your CRM database for future follow-up), they can gauge if the time is right to offer to schedule an office visit. Many new customers will be relieved and delighted by this opportunity, since it allows them to skip the hassle of a separate phone call by booking an appointment entirely via live chat.
The most common questions your site visitors will have, regardless of your medical specialty, will probably be about insurance and payment plans. Rather than having your live chat customer service agents tied down providing the same basic information over and over again, deploy a chat bot to field these inquiries.
A bot can deliver basic information about procedure payment options right in a chat window, and link out to a page with more detail for the potential patient to review. Another helpful technique is to have your chat bot let visitors know that it can check whether their insurance is accepted by the office. For this to work you’ll need to train your bot with a lot of variants of the different popular insurance company names that you accept – but you don’t need to be 100% comprehensive if your bot follows up with “To see a full list of insurance companies we accept, CLICK HERE” and directs people to a page where they can confirm for themselves.
As always, the point with chat bots is not that they need to be perfect every time. If 50% of first-time visitors to your medical site have questions about insurance, and a chat bot can answer 50% of those questions without the need for a live agent to step in, you’ve still successfully automated a substantial chunk of your customer service interactions – reducing your overall cost and increasing your response speed in the process.
Finally, menu-based chat bots are also capable of working with your calendar system to book appointments, if that’s a task you want to offload from your live chat agents as well.
The value of a single financial services customer can be enormous, especially when you consider the lifetime earnings that can result from signing up a corporate client. Whether you’re a financial advisor, a payroll company, or an investment banker, the relatively low cost of adding live chat to your site via a plugin or app is almost certainly worth it.
If you offer any kind of business-oriented financial services, then the value of a quick response is magnified. Industry stats indicate that it’s common for businesses to take multiple hours to respond to emails that come in via their “Contact” pages or on-site mail forms – and that’s just not good enough in the business world. If a busy CFO or Finance VP wants to get in touch with your company to see if you are the right fit for their needs, even an hour of wait time before a response runs a huge risk of missing out on the client’s business.
Because there’s such a wide range of specialties that fall under the “financial services” umbrella, the exact way you’ll use live chat on your site will depend on your particular focus. But one important role that your live chat agents will likely play is in “pre-qualifying” potential leads: determining their needs, the scope of the potential work, and their budget. Getting these points clear up front will help you determine if you’re the right fit for this client, and can help you avoid wasting time if the site visitor doesn’t actually represent a quality lead for your company.
Because financial services clients can end up representing such enormous lifetime value for a business, many financial companies find it worthwhile to engage in account based marketing, targeting individual leads (or existing clients) with messaging and materials produced specifically for them. Live chat is a fantastic account based marketing tool, both in its ability to deliver personalized messaging and its role in gathering information about a client’s needs and preferences.
For your highest value leads and existing clients, consider setting up a “live chat fast lane” in the form of a direct link they can use to connect directly to an agent who is familiar with their account. Provide the agents handling that account with the information they need (via your CRM) about the key points of contact at your client’s organization and the status of any ongoing projects you have with that business. Your agents can provide personalized help as needed to secure that client’s business, and once they’re a customer you can keep them engaged and satisfied by giving them the “white glove” treatment.
If it makes sense for your business to follow the advice above and focus your live chat efforts on key, high-value accounts, you can still provide an instant response to site visitors with your chat bots. While not as personal as a human agent, chat bots can easily be trained with the most common questions visitors have for your company – and with regular evaluation and further training, AI-based bots will get smarter and more helpful over time.
To get started with a chat bot on your financial services site, take a look at the last 50 messages you received from first-time contacts who reached out via email. Sort and categorize those messages, looking for what questions are asked multiple times by different customers, and which could be easily answered via a chat bot response. For more complicated inquiries, see if you might have useful pages already on your website that could provide the answers – such as a knowledge base entry or company video.
10 is a good round number of FAQs to start with, but the more you can identify, the more work you’ll save your customer service team in the long run. Program your AI chat bot with a few different variants of each FAQ, and write responses that either directly answer those questions or share a link to where visitors can find further information for themselves. When that up-front work is all done, you can deploy your bot and begin assisting site visitors immediately.
Again, it won’t always be perfect – but it doesn’t need to be. At worst, site visitors will close the chat bot and consider sending an email if you don’t have a live chat agent available – but you’d be surprised how often your bot will be perfectly capable of handling customer service interactions without the need for any human agent direction at all.
Though the specific application of live chat software for your business and website will depend on your particular industry and goals, the advantages should be clear. Instant communication grabs the attention of a site visitor right away. Allowing an hour or more to elapse before you respond to a potential lead risks losing them forever as they explore competitors. For high-value industries like law, medicine, or financial services, the return on investment represented by live chat as an instant communication tool on your site is potentially enormous.
Whether you’re a lawyer using live chat for initial information gathering about a potential client’s situation or a doctor deploying a chat bot armed with answers to your patients’ most common questions, it’s time to harness the power of conversational commerce and customer service on your site. Visit Formilla.com today to sign up for a free trial, and see how live chat can make your customer responses faster and more productive.