Have You Updated Your Procedures to Cover Handheld Devices?
Without question, handheld devices, whether they be simple phones, pda’s, or smart phones, have transformed agency communications. Agency producers and staff can and do communicate with clients, vendors, and carriers using these devices for voice, e-mail, and text communications. Previously, all communications had to go through the agency’s centralized phone and mail people. This paradigm shift does create the need to address the use of handheld devices in every agency’s procedure manual.
The essential point is that from a customer’s perspective, it does not matter whether they communicate through the agency’s main phone number or a producer’s smart phone. However, the smart phone likely does not have any of the disclaimers or tracking mechanisms attached to communications coming through the agency’s central phone and mail processing desks. Therefore, it is vital that documentation exist for all handheld devices just as if the communications occurred through the agency’s central processing desks. This means all handheld devices should:
1. Possess the same voicemail disclaimers as the office phones.
2. Possess the same email disclaimers as the office email system.
3. Integrate with the agency’s main IT system to capture written communications and phone logs.
4. Producers and staff document all handheld device conversations.
5. If documentation cannot be integrated, such as texts, consider disallowing texting.
6. If producers or staff use their personal devices for business, determine what policy you will implement.
7. If parties will not comply, consider not allowing them to use handheld devices or if they do anyway, consider whether you can make them more responsible for E&O claims.