More and more of today’s firms are incorporating self-service portals to help them gain control of work quality and service delivery. iManage, the leading provider of work product management solutions for law firms, recently implemented a self-service portal that provides automated guidance to their expanding network of implementation partners. The new system enables iManage to provide immediate access to the company’s methodology and track the progress of implementations over extended periods of time.
We’re also seeing more law firms tap into automated self-service portals. Charity law experts Bates Wells Braithwaite, use an automated self-service portal to provide fixed-cost legal advice to their charity clients, while another top city law firm uses automation to help airlines manage their insurance claims.
What is the goal of self-service portals?
There is immense potential for law firms to use self-service portals to drive greater efficiency, profitability and service differentiation. By automating work delivery, firms can process more transactions at fixed prices, leading to greater profitability. The ability to provide clients with immediate work product and a broader service offering also enables firms to differentiate themselves in an increasingly competitive market. Additionally, self-service portals can be used to reduce the risk of human error and misunderstanding by providing customised online guidance to clients, partners and staff.
How do I get started with a self-service portal?
The best place to start is within your own firm. Select documents and processes that are ripe for automation and automate them for in-house use. This will give you the opportunity to test the system and work out any kinks before giving clients access.
Once you’ve worked out which documents and processes to automate, you’ll need to decide where to host your self-service portal. What will be your main point of entry for clients? Maybe it’s the firm’s website or HighQ. Either way, you’ll need to provide single sign-on across all platforms to make it easier for clients to use the portal.
How do I determine the automation journey?
The process of completing each automated document (or set of documents) needs to be broken down into key stages. This is crucial to client experience, as clients may not have all of the required information when they start. Creating stages will allow clients to complete sections, and then return once they have the proper information.
The automation process will differ from document to document and will be determined based on the complexity of the work output. However, you’ll need to provide a consistent client experience from the start, including start notifications and return links after the client commences the automation process. A few other factors to consider include whether you want to provide the option to preview a document before downloading and if you’d like to allow clients to return to a previous step in the process.
Another critical factor to think about is what happens when the automation is complete. You’ll need to provide an end notification and also lock the record to prevent further changes. You’ll also want to ensure that help text is provided throughout the process to enhance the client experience. Consider adding links within the help text that direct clients to wiki pages or external sources if more detailed information is required.
How do I provide support and ensure compliance?
Before you start your automation project, you’ll need to comply with GDPR regulations, including data retention periods and how you plan to store data after the automation is completed.
To provide adequate support to portal users, implement an issue tracking process so that portal users can easily log any issues and provide feedback. This will also allow you to monitor the health of your system and identify areas of improvement. Specifying client access and usage reports will also help you understand how often clients use the system and which reports are the most demanded.
Once you’ve worked out which documents and processes to automate, tested the system internally and put support processes in place, it’s time to go live. To ensure a smooth launch, test the system with a small group of selected clients before launching it to your broader client base. Give them the opportunity to test the customer journey and provide feedback, which you can then use to make the final last improvements before introducing the portal to the rest of your clients.