Tackling road blocks that stall website leads
Is your website fit for the purpose of customer interaction, asks Helen Hamilton-Shaw
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 shopping on 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 per cent higher submission rates with a four-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 it $12m worth of revenue each year, when consumers misunderstood a ‘company name’ field. Many thought it was asking for their bankers, then extended the logic to enter the bank’s address instead of their own, causing their credit card payment to be rejected.
Does your form says ‘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 per cent.
Make sure enquiries get through. Your customer pressed ‘go’ and received an auto-acknowledgement by return, but did 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 is also important. A significant failure flagged in the legal sector is the quality and speed of responses to web enquiries. Although 81 per cent of mystery shoppers received a response within four hours, one third of emails were criticised as being impersonal, with 20 per cent finding typing errors. Most worrying, only 9 per cent of firms did any further follow up.
Finally, offer 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 are no contact details, it may give the impression your fee earners are too important to be bothered. Similarly, for people visiting your firm, giving clear directions on your website can be 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.
Helen Hamilton-Shaw is director of services at LawNet