Chatbots are taking a more prominent role when it comes to legal and business operations. Now in 2021, the use cases where bots can support firms are more apparent as the need to operate more efficiently and make better use of data and automation grows. Legal firms can use the following trends to help guide bot decision-making advice, processes and deployment.
The digital nature of modern business makes every process improvement, digital business effort or new IT service a “project.” When a legal firm lacks specific technical skills, those projects fall neatly under the eye of management consultants, IT teams or knowledge workers, ready to step in with their experience to speed up delivery of services, improve efficiency and make savings using services including chatbots and decision-making tools, as these five trends demonstrate.
Chatbot technology, and buzzwords including the much-hyped artificial intelligence and machine learning may put legal professionals off. But service automation tools like BRYTER can help experts build and deliver a working tool or solution, without exposing end users to complex back-end technology, helping drive implementation and delivering results across a growing number of business use cases.
The legal sector is adopting bots and automation technology (see BRYTER’s new “A lawyer’s guide to chatbots” white paper for more information), but many still require the help or insight to build the right bot or product to meet a team’s specific requirement.
Chatbots for legal productivity
Chatbots started out in most businesses as a customer support tool but have rapidly evolved into enterprise collaboration and internal knowledge resources. In 2021, many legal firms are considering where a bot will fit in with their business. IT or management/innovation consultants can bridge the knowledge-skill gap, encouraging legal teams to build and deploy bots and other digital solutions.
Legal firms may already follow enterprise precedent and deploy chatbots across HR, IT support and other common business areas, operating on the intranet to collect and share knowledge. Internal or client chatbots often see a struggle over ownership and maintenance. Efforts must be made to design, define and build a structure to keep chatbots live and valued, sharing processes, policy updates, while delivering value, be it by directing colleagues to the right resources or providing business intelligence.
For lawyers, chatbots are used as subject matter experts, quick response tools or as value-additive products for clients. They can perform simple tasks like acting as COVID-19 health checkers, work-from-home support tools, or speed up knowledge sharing and help a business in the push to digitize that knowledge, something that can deliver quick results, demonstrate ROI and prove the business value of a chatbot to the business.
One example could be a BREXIT issue bot that collates the types of issues clients have to build up a knowledge base and offer known solutions or interim advice. A management or innovation consultant’s knowledge will also help when legal firms suggest chatbots that are not suitable for a particular task or are too broad in scope. Many legal firms will have seen the hype about chatbots, but might not be aware of the limitations or might not know that a different type of service automation tool could do a better job.
Customer service chatbots
Customer service chatbots are the most common type of bot and remain the most popular use case. Seeing diminished returns in many markets, vendors looking to create new value through different use cases. In the legal world, chatbots can help with compliance queries, across financial services or auditing operations, and linking legal departments with other parts of a larger enterprise. With a bedrock of existing bots to leverage, consultants can use them as part of efforts to win new business and generate more revenue from existing clients by servicing and creating fresh needs.
Accenture’s “Chatbots are Here To Stay” report (PDF) highlights the many growing use cases that legal firms can promote as ways to add value at the departmental level. Chatbots can be tailored to each team or role need, helping provide basic legal information without taking up the time of professionals, or prioritizing requests for legal support.
Cybercrime needs a cyber response, especially from the legal industry where there are few tech-savvy professionals to provide a qualified opinion. As hack attacks and cybercrime booms, clients and prospects will look for advice from companies that can demonstrate their technology skills.
Starting with a chatbot, legal firms can create the basis to triage queries and cries for help. As companies look for legal advice, they will expect a fast response, even if technology is not the traditional field of their legal representation.
Bots can provide immediate advice and list contacts to deliver a technical solution to a breach or other issue. Examples like the first dedicated cybercrime chatbot (for individuals) can act as a template, helping the firm establish its own level of legal knowledge and provide advice that clients can use as they seek remediation.
The consumer virtual assistant is a compelling feature of many smart gadgets. Helping with calendars, shopping lists, media playing and controlling smart devices, they are multifaceted wonders. Beyond 2021, we will see more chatbots encroach into the office environment, with increasingly useful bots and virtual assistants providing executive support and assistance.
Working as intelligent assistants, assisting with dictation tasks, providing alerts or meeting reminders, encouraging collaboration and monitoring processes or help desk tasks, the growing role of the virtual assistant, be they text-based, or Alexa or Siri powered, is undeniable.
In the race to deliver value that many firms face, higher-end services that deliver executive benefits can be a great way to show value. Using bots and VAs that link various productivity tools and communication services to act just as the home virtual assistant does, provide a high level of service for professionals and will help raise awareness of bots and interactivity across many office or legal areas.
Gartner recently cited 9 changes in working practices, post-COVID-19, key among them are the increase in remote work, remote monitoring and driving digital change. The need to identify roles, skills and workflows to support business productivity and resilience will grow on the back of these changes, with chatbots a key part of the toolset for automated communications and support.
When any chatbot goes wrong, it creates a firestorm of news and concerns over the ethics of AI and automated legal advice. Take the recent South Korean chatbot that started sending hate speech. Legal firms can get ahead of these issues and debates by monitoring these cases and building their own test chatbots to see how easy it is to manipulate AI or corrupt the messages.
Learnings from these experiments can help legal professionals prepare for when their clients face AI or chatbots issues in the future across law, health, finance and other regulated industries or when marketing brands find their bots going off-message, all creating legal peril. As the number of bots booms to deal with automated customer service, some will go wrong and lawyers need to be briefed and ready to deal with the fallout.
Whatever the struggles and opportunities for legal businesses and management consultants in 2021, this year promises a return to growth in business. But the digital nature of much of that activity will require experience and insight to help deliver it. BRYTER’s no-code services automation processes are ideal for creating chatbots, allowing any professional to build them feeding in their knowledge into the conversation and designing the choices that a user will face.