Want to generate reports for your clients in record time, using the latest technology? Read on:
Do you still use the IBM Selectric and mail your clients typewritten reports with Polaroid prints paper-clipped to the pages? Of course not! You’re no Luddite; your reports are cutting edge. You use a computer and print color photos right in the report, then drop the spiral-bound pages in the mail, complete with a CD of your edited surveillance video.
Consider this: In terms of speed, expense, and convenience, the computer-generated report you just snail-mailed isn’t such a grand departure from the typewritten version with Polaroids affixed. From your client’s perspective, he’s not much better off than clients of 40 years ago. He still has to wait for the mail, deal with information in multiple formats, and most likely scramble to find a computer that plays CDs.
Have you considered updating how you deliver reports to clients? Let’s look at some recent trends in the world of information sharing and explore ways to modernize how your clients receive the intelligence you’ve gathered.
Computers, video cameras, and online storage are cheaper than ever. Meanwhile, it costs more and more to print color images. (Ink cartridges aren’t cheap.) Why not deliver reports electronically instead of printing and mailing reports?
As readers turn away from printed newspapers, magazines, and even books, your customers will likely lose desire for printed reports as well. And your attorney clients don’t want to deal with reports in multiple formats—the cost of filing and storage for law firms is enormous.
Most importantly, the cost of your time is increasing much faster than the price of technology you use to share information with your clients. It’s in your interest to generate reports as cheaply and efficiently as possible, and digital delivery wins on both counts.
With the rise of Twitter and Facebook, the shelf life of data is momentary. More than ever, people want information instantly, and they want to stay connected. And that means they want to stay connected with you.
Clients like to be updated quickly and continuously about the status of their cases. Having a secure link to your customers so they can see new information as you gather it will be a lot more cost effective than constantly calling them (or having them call and interrupt you).
Computers make our work vastly easier. But sometimes, hard drives crash, contract viruses, get stolen, or die speedy deaths thanks to late-night coffee spills. It is essential to use cloud backup for all your data. You spent all that time (i.e. money) finding information for your client—the last thing you want is to lose it.
As investigators follow the trend towards digital media, security is more important than ever. When transmitting reports digitally, DO use an encrypted site for clients to access your reports online. You cannot depend on the client using encrypted email services.
Bottom line: Email is not secure. Lawyers and other professionals demand the use of secure web portals like DropBox. As an alternative, consider creating your own secure web portal (with an SSL certificate).
Viewing video online is the future. Actually, it’s the present. (Remember Blockbuster?) Look at the growth of YouTube and services like Netflix streaming. Every quarter, Netflix’s bottom line shifts inexorably from CD mailers to online streaming. More and more computers no longer even have CD or DVD drives (think MacBook Air). Everything is going to live streaming.
That’s why Adobe created a version of their free reader that allows you to embed playable video. Few people take advantage of this right now, but future reports will likely include videos directly embedded into the report—all your gathered intelligence in one document.
Forces to Be Reckoned With
Change happens, that much you can count on. The good news is, you’ve got choices: If you don’t stay abreast of shifting trends in technology, society, and the economy you will struggle to attract and keep new clients.
But there’s another option: Let the force be with you. Well-composed reports using innovative technology can be a great marketing tool. A good report will get you referrals and repeat business, and as we know—referrals are a PI’s best advertisement.
So you Luddites, listen to me: Don’t neglect the best technology for your report writing. If you can’t bear to give up your old Selectric, take heart! You can always use it to write that detective novel you’ve been dreaming of.
Just keep this in mind: most folks are going to read it on an iPad. And as for those Polaroid-lovers? Please meet Instagram.
About the author:
Paul Beauchemin is the owner of Jinna Software and creator of SherlockDocs–an online report writing tool developed just for PIs. You can learn how to create better reports at http://sherlockdocs.com or call 1-866-620-2716.