This update includes two smaller but nice-to-have features:
Client Names Separate from the Primary Contact Name
Sometimes a client is not a person, so now you can give the client a name separate from the primary contact. The client name (as opposed to the primary contact’s name) will now be shown throughout Client Power Tools.
You don’t have to give clients a client name; if you don’t the primary contact’s name will be used.
Often the primary contact might not be the only person who should receive messages, so now you can add additional contacts to each client who will receive CCs. When sending a message you can remove any of those CCs.
To help you keep track of who got what, when, recipients will be saved with the message and displayed in the message list.
Version 1.5 of Client Power Tools contains a major change: passwordless login. That means your clients don’t need to remember a username and password! All they need is their email account, which they enter into the login form to receive a one-time-use code that expires after 10 minutes. If they enter the correct code, they will be logged in.
I wrote this article for the ABA’s GPSolo magazine, and it was published in the January/February 2021 issue. I’ve republished is here and on my web design & development blog with permission from the ABA.
If your law firm has a website, chances are you think about it primarily as a way to get clients. Getting clients is necessary, of course, but it’s also worth considering what your website could do for your clients after they hire you.
A website can be so much more than a marketing tool. We all use websites to interact with companies, from shops and restaurants to contractors and accountants. We shop, communicate, order food, make payments, send and receive documents, download records, and more.
So, when your current clients visit your firm’s website, they probably expect to find something for them to do—possibly a client portal where they can communicate with you, see information about their legal matter, download documents, etc. This is probably even more true now, when most of our social and commercial interactions have moved online due to the pandemic.
This is all to say that your website can and probably should be more than just a marketing tool. Make it an integral part of the way you serve clients.
Fortunately, adding a client portal to your website is fairly simple with free and open-source tools or by using the features of popular cloud-based practice management software.
Now you can assign a client manager to each client. Messages and status update requests now go to the client manager. (The email will be CC’d to the now-optional status update request notification email address, if you have set one.) New client emails will now come from the client manager instead of a default name and email address.
You can add and remove client managers from the new Managers submenu, managers appear next to their clients in the client list, and clients appear with their manager in the manager list.
One minor change. To avoid bloating the menu I moved the add-client form to the Clients page. I think it’s just as useful there.
This release adds several user-requested features. (Thanks to Tim Carr, in particular!)
In settings, now you can disable the status request button entirely. You can also change the default email notification behavior to include the full message, rather than just a notification, but you can override this default on individual messages.
Finally, when you try to add a new client when there is already a WordPress user account with the same email address, the user is simply given the Client role rather than returning an error. (The documentation will be updated, as well.) This was unnecessarily clunky before. Sorry about that.
There’s also a bunch of smaller tweaks and improvements.
Version 1.1 of Client Power Tools adds client deletion. Now you can delete a client from the client’s profile, under Edit Client.
Be careful. Deletion is permanent. There is no undo. When you delete a client, it will delete that client’s WordPress user account as well as any messages associated with the client.
This is as good a time as any to make sure you have a solid backup solution in place for your website, including the database. Your hosting provider is probably already backing up your website and database for you, but you should make sure you know the backup schedule.
For an easier option to manage yourself, VaultPress, from the builders of WordPress, is an easy-to-use, affordable backup service. But there are many others.
I’m thrilled to release Client Power Tools 1.0.0! It’s been a lot of work but I am proud of it and I am super excited to get it out into the world. I’m confident Client Power Tools is a much-needed, useful tool that makes it super easy to add a client portal to your website.
Since the foundation of any client relationship is communication, that’s also the foundation of Client Power Tools. With its messaging features you can move your client communications from email (or maybe from regular old mail) to a convenient, clients-only page on your website.
Version 1.0.0 is focused on messaging, and I know it definitely doesn’t do everything everyone will want it to. That is by design. I wanted to get Client Power Tools into your hands as soon as possible to see whether you want to use it, how you want to use it, and what else you need from it. This is a solid foundation for future updates and extensions, not the finished product.