A Series on Technology: Telephones
For some, this recent crisis was manageable because they were already accustomed to working remotely. For others, it’s proven a nightmare. This is our fifth installment on technology. You can bury your head in the sand and wait for all this to pass or you can embrace the new technology available for your practice. It doesn’t require an IT degree or an IT department. Incorporating advances in technology into your practice is easier now than it has ever been. Even if you had stuck your toe in the sea of new technology, now is the time to wade in a little deeper. How can technology help your practice? How hard is it?
Let’s talk about telephones.
Our recent experience may have illustrated some weaknesses with your telephone capabilities.
Do you need a traditional office landline? Do you need a traditional telephone system? What about a receptionist? How can you use your mobile phone for business? Check out what is available, and compare costs and features before jumping to conclusions.
Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol (VOIP) systems
Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol (VOIP) systems are easy to use, install and can be relatively inexpensive.
They can easily handle voicemail and seamlessly forward calls to a cellphone. They basically connect to your computer system (another installment) or WiFi. Your calls are handled over the internet instead of over telephone lines. But what if the internet goes out? It depends on how widespread the outage. You will more than likely still be able to manage your calls through your cellular provider, which can provide your pathway to the internet.
Depending on the size of your practice, you may not need a separate system at all. You may be able to effectively use your cellphone as your sole office phone depending on what you do and how disciplined you are.
For example, there are third-party providers who will give you a telephone number (or use one that you already own), answer and screen calls, take messages, or forward them with or without an introduction. They can do this with in-person receptionists or automatically with an auto-attendant like a voicemail system. Most of these services can send actual transcripts of your voicemails to you via email. You can even manage how you want certain calls to be handled depending on who is calling or why they are calling. The customization and possibilities are limitless. And the pricing is very reasonable compared to even VOIP telephone systems and receptionists.
If you are going to rely on your mobile phone for business purposes, it would be helpful to have one generated in the last couple of years.
Yes, you are proud that you are still using an iPhone 4, but you will struggle to do all that you will want to do with it if you don’t bite the bullet and upgrade. If you are going to embrace modern technology, you will want to bring your smart phone along. And it can do wonders. You can handle practically every facet of the business of practicing law from your mobile device. Practice management, calendars, to-do lists, document drafting and review, conference calls (including video), even billing, right from your cellphone and from anywhere. And “moving” everything from your old phone to your new one is easy these days. Many providers will even do it for you when you upgrade.
Remember, if you begin relying on your cellphone for your practice, you must respect and protect its value. Regularly backup your data.
Hopefully, it will all be stored in the cloud anyway, but make sure that whatever you do on your cellphone is syncing with the cloud and your storage. Always install upgrades to your cellphone’s operating system. Most importantly, make sure that the data on your phone is secure. Your phone should lock when not in use. If your phone is stolen, damaged, or lost, its value will become clear very quickly. If you have followed all the suggested guidelines and have a relatively new device, you will easily be able to replace it and be up and running in no time, with all your data and applications there and available. Another benefit of the cloud.