Keep the PI in the loop.

Surveillance is a key aspect of private investigation work.

Clients may request surveillance when they know their target subject will be difficult to capture through traditional methods of service of process alone. Or they may want to gain more insight on an individual or a location. At the end of the day, the client wants to build a case, so private investigators step in to help make this happen.

Here, you can learn more about the different instances that sometimes require private investigation. Surveillance can be used in all types of cases and usually requires extensive work by the private investigator, meaning hours of observation. However, the investigator can only work with what the client provides. This means the client must allot a certain number of hours to get the job done and must give as detailed of a description as possible of the subject, for instance, so the investigator knows what, or who, to look for. Other details include the model and make of the subject’s vehicle(s) and daily routines.

This page gives a nice and brief overview of how a PI moves. A reasonable number of hours are needed as surveillance requires the investigator to sit for hours on end and do nothing but watch for activity, which, sometimes, doesn’t even happen.

The client pays for the type of surveillance that will get done. In other words, you get what you pay for. If the client only chooses to pay for an hour of surveillance, chances are, he or she won’t reap much. But if at least four or five hours are on the table, for instance, the probability of obtaining something valuable would be much higher.

Just as with service of process, the client must put himself or herself in the private investigator’s shoes. The client should ask him- or herself questions such as:

  • What time of day should this be done?
  • What does John Doe’s typical schedule look like?
  • What does John Doe look like?
  • What are we trying to prove?

Most importantly, it should be remembered that the PI and the client are working together as a team. That’s what matters and is what helps to make the job successful. ♦

Electronic Statuses

Here, Bob gives a little insight to our Web Package system we offer.

Aside from this Web Package system our clients have access to 24/7, they also receive electronic statuses from us as soon as they are entered into our database. Each time our servers make an attempt on a paper, they provide this to our office staff, and we physically enter it in the system. These status updates generate automatic e-mails that go to our clients so they are aware of what’s happening with their papers. Once a job is closed out and a paper is served and a signed affidavit is scanned into our system, an automatic e-mail is generated and sent to the client as an alert. In this e-mail, along with the service details, a link is provided that gives the client access to a digital copy of their return of service.

Clients can also call us at any time during business hours, and we respond to their requests and inquiries right away. If an address we are attempting is unsuccessful and further instructions are needed, this is relayed to the client in the status e-mail that is generated. It’s our duty as professionals to make sure they are kept abreast on their services. At the end of the day, they are trusting us to perform a service for them, so we do everything in our power to get the paper served. ♦

It all starts in house.

When we think of serving documents, we think of the act of delivering papers to someone. And although this is essentially what service of process is, we tend to neglect what goes on behind the scenes.

The players include attorneys, paralegals, process servers, and staff of the process serving companies, and they all have respective roles that are equally necessary. Without attorneys, there would be no papers to serve. Without paralegals, work would not be distributed to process servers and communication between attorneys and process serving companies would be virtually nonexistent. Without process servers, there would be no one to serve documents. Without office staff of process serving companies, there would be no one to properly route documents to their rightful servers, there would be no one to generate affidavits of service, there would be no one to generate invoices, there would be no one to communicate between client and server, and there would be no one to micromanage each service to ensure clients are kept abreast of what’s going on.

As you can see, the office staff plays multiple roles, and the ones I listed are only a few. In our office, we have a manager, an assistant manager, a send-away clerk, two data entry clerks, a billing clerk, and an accountant. Each position comes with its own duties and challenges, but it’s important to recognize that every person plays an essential part in the day-to-day functions that make up our business. Without even one of these positions, we would fall short of a consistent flow. ♦

What Clients Want

Attorneys can be demanding.

People, in general, can be persistent when they want something. At Professional Process Servers & Investigators, Inc., our number one goal is to please the client. In order to do this, we must keep in mind what the client wants from us.

Below is a general infographic of what clients are typically looking for from process servers and process serving companies.

 

what do clients want (from process servers).png

Communication Between Server and Client

Probably one of the most, if not the most, important aspects of service of process is communication.

It all starts with the basics. The client reaches out to us, requesting service on an individual or a business. Along with the document, the client sends us specific instructions, such as whether this service should be attempted on a regular or rush basis. In addition, the client may include pictures, descriptions, and special guidelines, such as a specific time window in which the paper should be attempted. Already, communication is being used, and the document has not even been processed yet.

We acknowledge receipt of the document, process the document, and assign it to a server to be attempted. Once the paper leaves the client’s hands, we are responsible for it and everything that happens regarding that particular service. This entails keeping in regular communication with the client without hesitation. Once the paper is attempted, whether it is served or it is not, the client needs to know.

We are usually in touch with paralegals, and sometimes attorneys, and they have deadlines as to when they need notifications. So to avoid them hovering over us and calling us every minute to ask what’s going on with their documents, we try our hardest to reach out to them first. In our office, once servers have updates, they give them to us via e-mail, over the phone, or in person. As soon as we receive these statuses, we enter them into our system and forward them to the client. Sometimes, we call the client to provide this information, depending on how urgent and time-sensitive the service is.

When we require further instructions, such as whether we have permission to attempt an alternate address or how we should generally move forward with serving a document if service has been unsuccessful, we have to reach out to the client. Sometimes, the client does not reply immediately. In these cases, it is our duty to be persistent and continue to try and make contact with the client until we receive a response. That way, we are not holding on to papers for weeks and months at a time.

Sometimes, the client simply has other cases to be worrying about, so that’s where his main focus lies. He will receive our status e-mails and may look right over them if other matters are taking precedence at the time. But if a document, such as a summons, is left inactive for too long, it will expire. So it’s our duty to keep on top of each paper to make sure the statuses we have in our system are up to date.

Interaction between us and the client is imperative from the initial stages up until the document is served and the affidavit of service is signed and mailed to the client. The key to any relationship is communication. At the end of the day, our focus is meeting the client’s needs. Without communication between the server and the client, documents cannot get properly served. And this simple act is the foundation of what we do, right? ♦