3.4 Responding to Enquiries (Email & Phones)

Many of the organizations you may work/volunteer for in a charity sector as well as providing substantive legal advice also provide a service for general enquiries , your organisation might be able to help with that enquiry or you might need to refer the matter on whatever the situation that arises you must always:

Be positive, patient and empathetic:

Remember most of the clients that you will be dealing with might be distraught and they see you or the organisation you work for as their place of sanctuary.

Have useful information to hand and be ready to deal with common questions:

Clients often do not have the means to contact organisations repeatedly and to give them a sense of HOPE it is advisable to keep a list of organisations, refugee, solicitors, police to signpost and refer if need be.

Keep good records of new enquiries:

This is to enable the organisation to keep a track of the enquiries received but also to assist if a dispute arose as to what was said and how the client was treated.

Keep detailed casenotes of phone calls and e-mails with existing clients:

This an essential component of good casework (see below) - you do not want to be in a position where important information was given over the phone and then not recorded.

Follow up any messages quickly:

It’s best not to keep clients waiting on any advice, action or decisions.

Live up to your promises:

Do not promise clients something that you are unable or unwilling to deliver. If you have promised a client an action make sure you deliver the action in the agreed timescales.

Maintain confidentiality:

Other individuals may ring you or answer the phone when you ring the client - in these circumstances be always conscious of your duty to maintain confidentiality which places an obligation on you to always communicate directly with the client.

Obtain client authorisation when you communicate with another person:

You should confirm this in writing to the client.

Check if clients are happy with the people present:

If a client attends a meeting with others, you must check each and every time that the client is happy for the other person to be present.

Avoid leaving a message on the client landline:

You can never be sure who will hear the message.

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