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It’s a Technical World and We All Need a Little Help Now and Then

June 19, 2012

Last week, my husband and I accepted delivery of a new car.  It’s been more than 10 years since we purchased a car and the process has certainly changed since then! At nearly every step, I was reminded just how much technology has become intertwined with even the most basic of our daily activities.   Throughout the entire experience, I couldn’t help but make connections back to legal professionals and the need to broaden our views on how we train and support them.

We had to complete most of the paperwork for our new purchase online, and one of the custom in-house applications wasn’t functioning as it should.  The savvy professional salesman tried everything he could possibly think of to complete our transaction, with no luck.  I even put on my support hat and tried to offer up some troubleshooting suggestions.  I couldn’t help but notice the user interface and error messages weren’t helpful at all, and I could tell our salesman was beginning to stress; after all, he was keeping his client – in this case, me – waiting.

When he decided he needed help, he didn’t pick up the phone and call a support number. Instead, he walked next door and asked for help from a fellow salesman, his peer.  When you think about it, it makes sense – after all, who else does this same activity day after day in the same way he does.   Chances are good his peer has run into the same problem and can quickly give him a solution – or at least a workaround. I couldn’t help but think, “Do we really think our lawyers will ask a client to wait while they call a support number and go through the often lengthy process of troubleshooting?”  Don’t get me wrong, there are absolutely times support should be the first number dialed.  I’m just suggesting that there are also times when a knowledgeable peer can be a better solution.

A few minutes later, we were at the car configuring our phones to interact with the hands-free phone system.  My Blackberry synced up like a charm, but my husband’s Android device was not as easy.  Our salesman noted that with each brand and model being slightly different certain phones are known  to have issues with their hands-free system.  Once again, our savvy salesman didn’t waste any time: he called the resident Android expert to assist us.  And, once again, within minutes the task was complete.  With the complexity of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) to work with the car’s technology, it struck me as genius to have a resident Android expert on site to assist.   I couldn’t help but be reminded of so many of our client focus groups in which  lawyers share with us that they want a list of in-house experts to call. They’re looking for people with expertise in a specific area of technology. With BYOD gaining momentum in our law firms, how can any technologist possibly be an expert on everything?  It’s time to share the knowledge load and create strategic subject matter experts who can provide the just-in-time assistance that keeps work moving without too much interruption.

Now it’s up to my husband and me to figure out how to use our car’s features.  My husband’s style is to poke around and just figure things out.  He also has the salesman’s phone number on speed dial to call for quick tips.  And, again, I’m reminded of what I hear from lawyers about their desire to experiment with software first and ask questions as needed as opposed to having up-front training.  Call me old-fashioned if you must, but I’d prefer to sit back and read the 400-page user manual from cover to cover.  As a matter of fact, I’ve already flagged a few pages to refer back to … of course only when the car is in park.

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