Whether you look at the common reasons for malpractice claims and disciplinary complaints or peruse the enlightening Clio Legal Trends Report 2019, one significant reason for client dissatisfaction stems from a lack of communication and responsiveness. A firm can create a process or workflow to deal with client requests or leverage technology to ensure that requests are responded to in a timely manner, while making sure that there is accountability and tracking to improve performance. Help Desk software, long used by IT and customer support, might help in a law firm.
In a small law office, an attorney receives an email from a client regarding how best to fill out a question on a form. The attorney sees the email but is in court and forwards it to her paralegal. The paralegal, who is working against another deadline, adds the email to her to-do list and goes back to work. A day, maybe two, maybe more passes and no one has responded to the client. The client is frustrated and then calls to check on the response. The call goes to voicemail. The attorney checks her voicemail, adds it to her to-do list to check with the paralegal. Still, no one has responded to the client. There are many ways to solve this problem, whether with workflows or perhaps with a ticketing system.
Ticketing, or Help Desk, systems are the backbone of most customer support teams in retail, services, and IT. A customer or client makes a request for help and that request is funneled into a system that assigns the ticket to first level support. Support responds to the client with a ticket number, who is responsible for following up, and an estimation of when the client will be contacted. The ticket is tracked, assigned, and communication with the client is logged. The ticket may have to move through different levels of support to reach a resolution, all the while the client is aware that a resolution is being addressed. When the request is resolved the ticket is closed and the client receives notification so that she may acknowledge and agree that the issue is fixed to her satisfaction.
A law firm can set up workflows that mimic this type of system by creating a triage system from point of contact to resolution. The firm can assign the ticket, track the progress and sign off. The workflow could reside in a practice management application, a project management application or even tracked in a shared spreadsheet. Many customer relationship management tools built for law firms may incorporate a type of ticketing or workflow management, though they often focus on the sales cycle with potential clients and the communication pipeline through intake and engagement agreement finalization.
However, for a purpose-built product that helps with responsiveness to existing clients, there are help desk tools that may help a firm be better equipped to handle the workflow. This type of application can be leveraged in any type of legal setting including government, private and in-house attorneys. In fact, larger firms, corporate and government attorneys may first see if their IT departments are already using a ticketing system and whether it would be possible to carve off a dedicated portion for the lawyers’ use.
If this idea is intriguing there are plenty of free and free-to-try Help Desk applications. Help Desk Software is a “tool intended to provide the customer or end-user with information and support related to products and services with the purpose to troubleshoot problems or provide guidance about product usage and instructions”. A few of these tools that have a free-for-limited use version that law firms could try out and see if this type of system could improve responsiveness and support include:
Zoho Desk is rated 4.5 by PC Magazine and offers a free plan for up to 3 “agents”. The free plan supports workflow, a knowledge base, reports, custom branding, and domain mapping. The client can go to a dedicated customer portal or click on a link in an email to trigger the request. There is an integration through Zapier to trigger actions generated in Zoho Desk to be acted upon in Clio.
Mojo Helpdesk free is a no-frills choice that focuses on ticket tracking for up to three agents for the free “Mini Me” option. It includes Google integration, 2 custom forms, up to 50 tickets per day and more. If your firm uses Clio there is a Zapier integration between Mojo HelpDesk and Clio, though it may require a paid version of Mojo Helpdesk and Zapier is an additional expense.
Another PC Magazine Editor’s Choice, Freshdesk is geared towards serving external customers versus being deployed for an IT department, which makes it especially useful for law firms. The free plan (Sprout) is free for unlimited agents and allows for tickets to be submitted via phone (via integration with Freshcaller), email or social media. Like Zoho Desk and Mojo Helpdesk, Freshdesk has a Clio integration through Zapier.
Lawyers do not often think in terms of customer support, though that is not only crucial to the success of the business but is also a way to reduce client frustration and complaints. While delivering top-notch legal services is the goal of the firm, customer service and support are crucial to the success of the business.