Build Better Bots: Automating legal intake

Build Better Bots is our series dedicated to exploring how to do legal automation well.

Here at Josef, we see thousands of bots. And while we adore the bots that are ‘firsts’ in their field, innovating and doing super creative things with legal logic, we also have a soft spot for the humble, often underappreciated, intake bot.

What are intake bots?

Intake bots are a mainstay of legal automation, and often the place where many law firms and legal teams begin their journey with technology.

In legal circles, intake is the conversation where legal professionals gather details about clients and determine the right actions and next steps, like scheduling a meeting with the right person or producing a piece of work. Intake bots automate this by asking questions and gathering relevant information to triage the enquiry.

Intake bots are important for two reasons: they automate work that is undervalued and, in firms, not reimbursed; and intake is often the first interaction a client has with a firm. Good intake bots streamline onboarding, make a good first impression, and provide a friendly and accessible point of contact available to clients, including after hours.

They make law firms run more efficiently, generating work that adds to the bottom line, freeing up hours to spend on deeper consultation, integrating seamlessly with other steps in the intake workflow such as scheduling and contract automation.

First impressions matter

First impressions matter

Who uses them?

Well … almost everyone!

Legal teams of all shapes and sizes use intake bots – from sole practitioners right through to large in-house teams.

For small and mid size firms, intake bots are often the first built and some of the most frequently used on Josef.

Community legal centres, who serve a huge number of clients with limited staff, are also super users of intake bots.

Large firms and in-house legal teams use intake bots to triage inbound enquiries, manage team workloads and set up streamlined systems to respond to frequently asked questions, generate self-serve documents and automate information collection from clients as well as other internal teams.

What makes a good intake bot?

Successful intake bots share many elements.

Here are our top three tips for builders, to ensure your intake bot manages your intake efficiently, while delighting users and freeing up your day:

Top 3 tips for intake bot builders

1. Take a long term view – it’s an investment

Intake bots are often implemented as a cost-effective, time-saving device. And this they are. Intake bots can often be built in as little as an hour or two.

Though consider this – intake bots are also an important extension of your brand and your services. Users want to interact with bots that have been built with their needs and wants in mind.

It seems obvious, but it’s important that your user’s experience with your intake bot is an extension of your brand. As a first point of call, add your logo and colours, and make sure the bot looks and sounds like you.

Thinking about your brand as an extension of your services is the first step towards building good intake bots. Taking a little time to get it right will pay dividends down the line.

2. Make them super helpful

Great intake bots act as facilitators, effortlessly triaging requests and providing a seamless handover – from the bot to a range of different actions.

The most effective intake bots are integrated with workflows that can solve many parts of the users’ specific problem.

These bots are service-driven, and provide a more convenient and complete solution for users (compared with the more utilitarian intake bots that direct users to get in touch via email addresses and to information on websites).

Some fantastic workflow integrations we see all the time, include:

  • Onboarding new clients,
  • Helping users schedule a meeting,
  • Generating pre-filled documents,
  • Determining whether clients have a claim or case,
  • Responding to FAQs, and
  • Triaging enquiries to the right person or team.

3. Spread the word

Intake bots are still bots, after all – they won’t seek out your users.

All successful intake bots should be promoted. You’ve built a bot you can be proud of, so why not pop it on your home page, your email signature, your intranet and your staff directory?

By reminding people of your intake bot, you can create a network effect to multiply its exposure, its use and its effectiveness. From our experience, many builders of successful intake bots take all these approaches.

By actively encouraging their client pipeline to use intake bots at first instance, they’re able to filter their workload to a manageable level, and use their time for more complex interactions with their clients.

Got a great intake bot? Wonderful, now go out and tell everyone!

We love to hear about your intake bots and how they’re working for you (or what you’d like help with).

If you’d like to chat to a member of the Josef team about how we can help you build better bots, contact us here:

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