The 24/7 Charity – How To Provide Around The Clock Helpline Services Whilst Containing Costs

The focus of my last blog was on the subject of the ever increasing number of calls to helplines and the struggle that charities are facing in an attempt to meet this demand. Mental health charity Mind for example has received over 40,000 enquiries over the last year however 40% of calls to their helpline go unanswered. Finding a way to meet the expectations and demands of the public whilst reducing costs can be a challenge for many organisations but there is a simple solution. Offering out of hours services can ensure that your service users are able to access support any time, any day of the week and can avoid bottlenecks caused by access being limited to office hours.

Bipolar UK, a charity that supports and develops self-help opportunities for individuals affected by bipolar disorder, was struggling to deal with the rising volume of calls it was receiving. It eventually decided to outsource its helpline services to Connect Assist’s specialist contact centre which allowed the charity to continue to deal with general enquiries in-house but left the emotional support work to be done by Connect Assist. Moving from a weekday, office-only helpline run by staff and volunteers, to an outsourced service, with hours extended to 8am-8pm seven days of the week, it was able to meet the high demand of calls with a lesser cost per call.

“Initially we did have concerns regarding the loss of personal interaction, expertise and the integrity of the organisation. But our experience has been wholly positive, we have developed a close working relationship with Connect Assist and our members receive excellent assistance and support for one-off immediate needs…” Bipolar UK

Providing an out of hours helpline allows your organisation to meet the needs of your service users by offering more choice of when services can be accessed – catering to busy lives and expectations and reducing costs. Many are unable or would simply rather not contact a charity during working hours – offering an out of hours service can cater to the needs of these individuals. Conversations we’ve had with several different charities, as well as the sector media suggest that many charities that have out-of-hours services are having to reduce hours and many of those that would like to do more are feeling constrained by budget. Outsourcing can be a real solution that can benefit service users and the charity significantly.

If you would like to learn more about how your organisation can offer its services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, Connect Assist is holding a joint event with Raising IT on July 11th at NCVO London.

For more information or to book your place, go to https://www.ncvo-vol.org.uk/training-events/funding-finance/meeting-expectations-todays-donors-service-users

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Case Study

Case Study: Grocery Aid

1.1.          Grocery Aid

1.1.1.      About our customer

Grocery Aid, the trading name of the National Grocers' Benevolent Fund, is the charity for the grocery industry. Grocery Aid helps people all over the UK who have worked, or are working, in the grocery industry and have now found that they need some extra support to get by. The help that Grocery Aid provides can make a very real difference and it provides not only monetary support, but also appliances and everyday items that many take for granted.

1.1.2.      The service we provide

The helpline was a new service for Grocery Aid. We set about improving the reach of their valuable service and sought to reach out to the people needing the help and support that they provide. In early 2010, Connect Assist successfully helped Grocery Aid launch their first helpline via our 24/7 Contact Centre. Today we offer multi-channel solutions via phone, e-mail, knowledgebase, ask a question and live chat.   The multi-channel helpline provides information and support to people and business owners working in the trade – from large supermarkets to corner shops. This includes an innovative ‘incident support’ service following attacks, arson and other incidents that are prevalent within the industry.

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