Saturday, August 28, 2010

Day 4: Procedural Change

Inevitably any system for an office is going to have areas where the wheels come off and the practice is sent skidding and sparking along the pavement.  The resulting hubbub stops everything and not just the client's case that is having problems suffers, but everyone -- staff, attorney and other clients suffer too.

In the past, I've used procedural change to eliminate these types of accidents.  The office management equivalent of strapping on a prophylactic seat belt.  Office procedure changes are great, but you have to sell them.  Staff has to buy in.  This is usually the easier sale.  We have problem X.  We can eliminate problem X by doing Y.  Start doing Y.  

The next sale has to be to the client.  Depending on the change, this can be easy or hard.  Existing clients, trained in bad office habits, will be the most difficult.  New clients are easier.  Client has problem Z.  Our office can help them solve Z, but in order to do this, Client must help us do Y.

A bit abstract, I know.  I'll give an example I've implemented before and an example of something I'm doing now.

Past example:  Clients need to complete a second electronic class to get their discharge in Chapter 7.  Clients weren't doing the class and not getting the discharge and then getting upset.

Procedural change:  We had always told clients they had to do the second class and in writing, but that wasn't working.  The problem persisted.  I added a new paragraph to the initial disclosure that tripled the amount of the fee the client would need to pay if they didn't complete the $35 second class.  The dramatic difference in cost had the desired effect -- everyone gets the class done now.

Current example:  In Chapter 13, clients often need to obtain court permission to do certain things, ie loans, abatements, and modifications.  Each motion has its own set of requirements.  It can be difficult to get motions filed and approved when the required information is not available and then frustration ensues as the time to file the motion drags on.

Procedural change:  First, we started setting appointments for all motions.  If the client wants a motion filed, they have to come into the office and meet with us.  You can't get a filing without going to the dentist.  You can't get a motion without going to the attorney.

Second, I'm working up information sheets that can be emailed or text to each client before their appointment so that they can have all the required information.

The end result is a quality experience where the client comes in, provides the information, the motion is prepared and filed with the court and the client walks out with a hearing date and a copy of the motion.

No comments:

Post a Comment