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When Not To Go to Self-Service?

By Sherry Kappel posted 01-13-2022 12:45


Please enjoy this blog post authored by Sherry Kappel – Evangelist, Litera Microsystems. 

This blog post offers a counterpoint to our “vidcast” on “How to Move from White-Glove Service to Self-Service” recorded on December 14, 2021.

As firms adjust to the realities of a hybrid and flexible work environment, they’re rethinking the technologies, structures and staff to support the dynamics of a new workplace. One consideration on the table: tilting internal technical support and training away from high-touch, white-glove service toward one of self-service.

The shift makes sense – especially now: we chat-bot with our Internet providers, Google for safe places to travel over Spring break, we order meals for our family for curb-side pickup. In short: we use apps and online portals to “help ourselves” to everything. Why shouldn’t we enable a self-serve support model at work, too?

Still, there are a few moments when it’s best not to go to self-service – let’s discuss a few of them here:

When “White-Glove” is Your Culture: Culture eats everything for lunch – even when it’s been DoorDashed from a self-serve app. If your firm delivers white-glove, high-touch service to its clients, expect to mirror that same quality of service when technically supporting your lawyers and their legal teams.

When Quality of Service at the Help Desk is “Bad”: Bad service is bad service, regardless of its delivery mechanism. If your internal support processes are broken now, solve those underlying problem(s) before you attempt to mask over it with a portal. Then layer in self-service components to improve upon the services you provide.

When Cost Reduction is the Only Goal: Implementing a self-service portal is like buying a new car: you certainly do not expect a 2022 vehicle to cost less than you paid for your current one (assuming, of course, you can find inventory for this year’s models…). Do not assume a self-service approach will be cheaper off the bat. Consider, too, how you will fuel it. Just as EVs, hybrids and fossil-fuel eaters must be ‘fed,’ your portal must be plied continuously with content: findable, consumable, current and relevant content – for both the issue and the audience. Like a new car, self-service requires an initial investment and on-going, long-term, operationalized maintenance and care.

Speaking of Goals – When You’re Confused About Your Self-Service Goals: We typically see two common miscalculations here – one which casts this solely as technology improvement (it is not!), and the other which fails to connect self-service to overarching business goals and culture. Make certain your goals are clear, and span several time horizons: what do you expect to achieve in a year? What do you expect to achieve in two? Will you focus only on accelerating technology support and learning? Or will you see potential to expand to serve other areas of your business such as access to marketing insights, policies and procedures, perhaps ultimately aligning certain self‑service offerings to your clients?

When the Only Access is (Yet) Another Login & Link: Without exception, users do not want another login to remember or link to pin. Their journey into the system must be seamlessly integrated, quick, and findable. If your environment cannot support single sign‑in, an integrated approach onto either the desktop or intranet, or if your enterprise search fails at wayfinding into the system, solve these problems first.

When You Have No Data and Out-of-Date Content: Successful self-service models are designed by data, run on content, and benefit users only when you have both. Data tells you what to prioritize, while well-curated content delivers the right solutions for your users. Absent these, your self-serve “info-fridge” is stocked with unpopular and expired “food.”

When You Assume Current Resources Can Do Both, At Once: Your current resources deserve investment, too. Enable them to fully engage in the design of the new portal by temporary staffing of their current roles. Then augment the self-service design team with new skills, using interns or contractors, to start. You’ll want capabilities in data analytics to facilitate on-going improvements (metrics matter!), content developers to ensure fresh, relevant content as systems and processes are updated, e‑learning designers for self-serve instructional content, and information/UX designers because the journey must be effortless and accessible for all. Not only will you get the endeavor off the ground, but your tenured staff will acquire new talents and renewed energy: all key ingredients for a move from “good” to “great”!


#Professional Development