Law has long been a profession built on tradition. However, as legal technology rapidly advances into the digital age, new opportunities present themselves to enhance the practice of law and the provision of support to the professionals within a law firm. When it comes to technology and IT support services, doing things the way you’ve always done them simply doesn’t offer the efficiencies and effectiveness needed in today’s law firm environment.
One of the biggest challenges in providing support in the legal field has been a long-standing desire for white glove-level service. While organizations in many other industries have found ways to reduce their support costs and keep them low by leveraging self-service and other efficiency-boosting technologies, the legal industry has been reluctant to adopt similar approaches. However, mounting pressures to decrease costs and increase efficiency are starting to force change and an exploration of new ways of providing service that enhance the user experience while still being cost-effective. Further, as the population of younger, more tech-savvy lawyers and support staff grows, new methods are needed.
Balancing Powerful Service with Budget Sensitivities
Given the speed technologies advance, law firms need to be adaptive to find better, more innovative solutions, while providing excellent support at reasonable costs. A key way to keep support costs under control is to leverage technologies to provide additional options that simplify the support process while providing tangible value to the end user.
That last part is critical – when new technologies, processes or procedures are implemented, the user needs to feel not only that the experience was worthwhile, but also that tasks are easier or better than they otherwise would have been without the new innovations. A major way to accomplish that is to build out an infrastructure that supports self-service capabilities. One challenge that we’ve seen over the years is that changing user habits is difficult. Ingrained thoughts about how to obtain support need to be carefully updated so that the end users can benefit from newer technologies or methods without feeling uncomfortable with unfamiliar ways of doing things.
Many IT issues boil down to common, straightforward requests – things like replacing printer cartridges or other simple support services that are challenging because they can’t be immediately addressed by a remote help desk. Other common concerns include training, requesting equipment, borrowing loaners, etc. The good news is that they can be solved by giving users a low-barrier mechanism for requesting assistance, such as automated forms that are submitted to the proper person for quick resolution. A simple technology called the Service Book – a catalog of commonly requested support items – has been around for years, but few firms have effectively implemented it. Imagine an actual online catalog with all potential IT service needs: training classes, new cell phones, knowledge base articles, etc. End users can access the Service Book through a portal page and request any available service or component. Adopting such techniques can significantly drive down costs without sacrificing service quality.
The key is making all support services available through one interface, a single place where users can go to request help or access self-help materials. An easily accessible portal that presents everything in a way that’s simple to understand is the ideal solution for end users. Enhancements like chat features, the ability to schedule service callbacks at convenient times and simple email interfaces help to further streamline the process. Adding a repository of FAQs, cheat sheets and other common knowledge-based resources will increase users’ ability to solve problems on their own without having to call for help every time. Beyond mitigating costs, these kinds of features are attractive to younger attorneys coming up through the ranks who tend to be technologically savvy and often prefer to help themselves rather than working through a traditional support process.
Maximizing Your IT Resources
Today’s IT departments are typically much leaner than they were in the past. Many firms are turning to outsourcing to handle the costly day-to-day tasks that impede efficiency. By outsourcing routine matters, your internal staff can focus on high-value tasks, continue to provide white glove service in combination with the outsourced Service Desk and prioritize rolling out new technologies that are going to drive the firm’s business. This balance allows firms to provide more comprehensive levels of support across the board without raising costs.
Outsourcing is an effective way to address the long-running struggle to provide the level of round-the-clock service that law firms have always required and continue to expand. Most in-house overnight service solutions, like pager or rotation systems, have proven insufficient and lead to support staff burnout. After-hours, overnight and weekend support is a common starting point for firms looking to test the outsourcing waters.
Utilizing the leverage of newer technologies and thought processes is critical to cutting costs, but trying to implement a switch on your own is an expensive proposition if you’ve never tackled such a significant undertaking. Thinking about what needs to change is easy – implementing change is another story. The amount of money and time it requires can quickly interfere with the important work of serving clients. Thankfully, professional service firms can provide the tools and experience to do the heavy lifting for you.
Experts can help determine which solutions will work best for your particular firm and offer real value to your end users. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer – all firms have different thresholds for what technologies their users will accept, and solutions should be tailored to meet those needs as efficiently as possible. Vendors can help you find the right comprehensive solution that minimizes cost, time and disruption to your business.
Building out a platform your employees can turn to for all their service needs is the first step. Supplementing the features that are available today with information on what’s coming soon will establish a go-to place that makes efficiency and self-service a part of daily firm life and keeps your users engaged going forward. Relieving the IT staff from providing routine services allows you to rededicate those expensive resources to high-end work while meeting ever-increasing demands to be more efficient and cost-effective.