Most charities would agree that making services highly accessible is a key priority. However many charities that offer out-of-hours services are reducing their hours and others are feeling constrained by budget cuts. With a change in user expectations, there is a high demand to access information, advice and support 24/7 – and the good news is that it doesn’t need to be much more expensive than providing daytime services.
In fact, organisations find that providing out-of-hours services can enable them to reach those who are in real need when and how they want that intervention to take place – in a way that is cost effective. For many charities, their service users are most in need during the evenings and weekends when the toughest problems can arise whether it’s domestic abuse, depression, drug or alcohol related problems and so on.
One great example of this is the NHS Plus Health for Work service which provides free occupational health advice to SME’s in the public, private and third sectors. Working in partnership with Connect Assist, this is now a 24/7 service offered via phone as well as online through live chat, web and smartphone app. Through providing these digital services, users can access free online advice on a range of occupational health issues and questions at any time of day. If more in depth occupational health advice is needed, then this would lead to a phone call to provide immediate help and support. Statistics reveal that with this approach, you can reach those who most need your services, maintaining high levels of satisfaction whilst seeing the cost per annum drop.
How can organisations go about offering 24/7 services? Firstly, it’s important to start by choosing what key services your charity wants to provide around the clock. Opening a 24/7 web platform for advice services will allow your service users to decide when is most convenient for them to access the information they need. This can then be extended to a live chat, e-mail or text service. From there, if an individual is in need of further support, the out-of-hours helpline will cater to their additional needs. Outsourcing your helpline to a 24/7 service can be a benefit to yourselves and your service users.
Through its multi-channel helplines, Connect Assist is already helping charities reach their service users 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For further information, go to http://www.connectassist.co.uk/third-sector/multi-channel-helplines/