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Tackling the road blocks that stall website leads

by Helen Hamilton-Shaw | January 16, 2017

Is your website fit for the purpose of customer interaction, asks Helen Hamilton-Shaw

In a regular series, she reflects on the key findings of the mystery shopping undertaken as part of the network’s Mark of Excellence, an audited client care programme that’s backed by the network’s ISO 9001 standard.

Is your website fit for purpose when it comes to customer interaction?

Many law firms prioritise leading-edge web design and content – even micro-managing in response to algorithms – but too often fail to delight their prospective customers through enquiry management and follow through.

I’ve been looking at the results of mystery shopping1 on law firm websites and they score highly for general accessibility, but two-thirds of the mystery shoppers said that they did not receive a ‘value-added’ experience. 

To make your website interactions resonate with positive vibes, start with some very simple checks.

  • Don’t ask for unnecessary information

Research shows that tweaking a response form layout, such as the amount of space between fields, can have a dramatic impact on completion rates. So, it’s not surprising that unnecessarily complicated forms will make attrition rates soar. One trial recorded 160% higher submission rates with a 4-field design Contact Us form, compared with an 11-field design. A compulsory telephone number field may imply unwanted calls will follow, so try adding the word ‘optional’ or ask if the enquirer wants a call-back.   

  • Think about language

The online travel giant Expedia discovered one data field was losing them $12m worth of revenue each year, when consumers misunderstood a ‘company name’ field. Many thought it was asking for their bankers, then extending the logic to enter the bank’s address instead of their own, causing their credit card payment to be rejected. 

Does your form say ‘Submit’ or ‘Register’? Experts say the most successful call to action is the rather softer ‘Click Here’, closely followed by ‘Go’, boosting completion rates by as much as 20%.

  • Make sure enquiries get through

Your customer pressed ‘Go’ and received an auto-acknowledgement by return, but does their enquiry safely arrive in your inbox?  All too often, web enquiry submissions are delivered to the wrong location, for example when email hosting is moved, but no one updates the website coding.  Even where they are correctly routed, sensitive spam filters frequently prevent enquiries getting through email servers.  Ask questions of your IT department or website managers to be sure enquiries aren’t being blocked. 

  • A timely, personalised response

A significant failure flagged in legal sector mystery shopping is the quality and speed of response to web enquiries. Although 81% received a response within four hours, a third of the emails were criticised as being impersonal, with 20% finding typing errors.  Most worrying, only 9% of firms did any further follow up. These are key pressure points where potential clients will be weighing up your customer service.  As part of the monitoring of our LawNet Mark of Excellence we undertake mystery shopping amongst members.  This aspect was highlighted in our first year of surveying, and with focused action scores have improved dramatically.

  • An open, welcoming door

As well as online forms, check other contact routes. Do staff profiles have email addresses and direct dial telephone numbers?  Visitors are likely to want to contact individuals they identify as having relevant expertise and if there’s no contact details, it may give the impression your fee earners are too important to be bothered. Similarly, for people visiting your firm, whether by appointment or to make a personal enquiry, giving clear directions on your website can make an easy client service win. 

The digital path in the customer journey is vitally important, and should be treated with the same care as any direct, personal interaction, so take some time to check how your website performs. If it’s not clear, effective and simple, take action now.  

This article was originally published in Solicitors Journal on the 21st November 2016 and can be viewed here.