For legal firms striving to stand out in a digital age, live chat helps to bring them closer to clients and respond to the changing way people shop and procure legal services.
At the height of lockdown, finding ways to do this and deliver services remotely was a challenge for many – but for medium sized full service law firm Stephensons Solicitors LLP,  remote delivery was already underway. Thanks to a commitment to ‘go agile’ over 12 months ago and its company-wide mission to make it as easy as possible to use a solicitor, the firm is a case study of best practice.
Sarah Boustouller, head of marketing and Partner at Stephensons, which is a nationwide firm headquartered in Wigan, said: “Our agile journey started over a year ago when we ran a pilot and gave some of our teams a full agile working kit and use of Microsoft Teams. Through numerous feedback sessions, we were able to refine what agility meant for our business and iron out any issues, before rolling it out across other departments. It meant that when the Covid-19 lockdown started, remote working was already central to operations and part of our DNA.”
The enforced agility of lockdown prompted Stephensons to centralise its physical office presence in Wigan Investment Centre, while still maintaining some office presence in other locations as necessary. However, while the team had the tools to work remotely, it was important to ensure that the client experience was not affected. Live chat has helped Stephensons to make the firm as accessible as possible, despite the absence of physical meetings, and has provided another important channel of engagement.
Sarah said: “We made the decision to use live chat six months ago as a means to improve client engagement and to be as available as possible. Additionally, we have a digital strategy working group to ensure that the client experience is always kept front of mind. This means we give ongoing consideration to how we can deliver the same high quality experience remotely and conveniently. Clients weren’t able to come to our offices during the pandemic, but still needed reassurance and so they required a myriad of ways to contact us.”
A framework of pre-qualifying questions enables Stephensons’ in-house team and outsourced live chat overflow partner Moneypenny, to ensure that all live chat enquiries are handled efficiently and directed accordingly. Sarah says: “We have specific instructions in place for each type of enquiry and by service line. The questions allow us to identify if it’s something we can progress quickly or if we need to signpost the enquirer elsewhere. Being able to know who and how we can help swiftly helps us to reduce the need for phone calls and waiting times and importantly means we can filter and qualify leads more quickly.”
As well as providing an important reactive channel, live chat is also allowing Stephensons to actively drive new business in certain areas. Sarah added: “In addition to the manual live chat feature, where the enquirer chooses to chat with us, we also use ‘pop-up live chat’ which helps to stimulate enquiries on certain parts of the site. This is value-adding and we use it tactically to drive enquiries to particular service lines.
“We’re also able to use live chat data to identify useful trends and the sorts of needs, worries and concerns they have. This allows us to refine our marketing messaging and deliver campaigns we know will resonate and deliver meaningful traffic to our site and enquiries.”
Recognising changing client and customer behaviours and expectations is particularly important for the firm’s brand positioning; to make dealing with a solicitor as easy as possible: Sarah said: “Consumer-facing brands were the first to really engage with their customers and start having authentic real time conversations through social media and live chat on a 24/7 basis. This expectation has now filtered into the professional services space. It’s a minimum requirement from our customers and we have to be accessible on their terms. That can mean handling an enquiry while they’re sat watching TV or trying to fit things in around busy family lives.”
With organisational agility now widely recognised as a commercial imperative across all professional service sectors, Stephensons has given real focus to how its people fit into the agile picture. Making them feel supported, happy and efficient as well as able to work from anywhere, at any time, is business critical. Just over 12 months ago, the firm launched an online rewards, recognitions and wellbeing platform called Boost as well as The Learning Hub, an e-learning platform, as part of its commitment to invest in the workforce.
Sarah concluded: “Firms can only be agile if their people feel supported, empowered and well equipped to do so. Our investment in all of these online tools is central to our agile strategy and it has laid the foundations for a smooth, flexible and remote operation, not just throughout the pandemic, but well into the future too.”
Stephensons Solicitors  LLP live chat service is provided by Moneypenny.