If you are planning to organize a large-scale event or campaign, consider establishing a hotline to more effectively communicate with your clients. A hotline is a single phone number that connects the caller to an information or reference service capable of handling a large volume of calls. This communication method is indispensable when a projects image depends directly on how quickly and completely a users questions are answered.
In this article we will talk about the solutions that helped the Roscongress Foundation team successfully launch and maintain one of its most relevant and socially meaningful projects of 2020 the In This Together National Call Centre.
As the coronavirus pandemic was developing, the Roscongress Foundation began acting as a general partner of the All-Russia Peoples Front in organizing and coordinating the work of a hotline. The Foundations 24-hour call centre accepts calls from elderly and limited mobility citizens, medical personnel, families with children, and other groups of the population requiring support. Over four months of uninterrupted work, the hotline was transformed into a fully-fledged information headquarters, handling more inquiries across more than ten domains. The hotline remains operational.
Launching the telephone line
At the start of the In This Together campaign, the Roscongress Foundation call centre had been providing information support to the participants of major business events in Russia and abroad for over seven years.
In March 2020, this experience was directed toward the rapid development of a hotline for a new target demographic elderly and limited mobility citizens.
The first 25 operators went online within 24 hours after the decision to launch the project was made.
The hotlines rapid launch was made possible by addressing several types of objectives simultaneously: technical (scaling the telephone exchange, adapting and setting up equipment), content-related (developing dialogue scenarios, recording professionally voiced greetings, establishing channels for sharing information), and staffing (on-site and remote operator training, test calls, creating a schedule).
The heads of the Foundations event-participant-related departments served as shift supervisors. Their experience in developing effective information channels for various audiences helped them successfully address new objectives: moderating chats and controlling the quality of operators work in real time, updating and optimizing scripts, maintaining reference number databases, monitoring news items related to the hotline, and finding solutions to the most unusual requests.
The rapid launch of this new product was made possible in large part thanks to the qualitative strengths of our team: their proficiency in teamwork, their years of experience, and a strict administrative and organizational structure.
Operators working remotely
Over 300 operators from a number of Russian regions were brought onboard when scaling the information centres operations.
Organizing remote access for operators necessitated the expansion of the capabilities of the Roscongress Foundations IT infrastructure and the provision of additional equipment, all within a restricted timeframe. At the same time, this decision served as an additional motivating factor for employees, demonstrating care for their safety during the pandemic. It also eliminated the need to equip the office to meet the needs of a larger call-centre.
In order to make sure that the calls could be received around-the-clock, project managers analysed call statistics by region, predicted call loads by time of day, and used this information to optimize shifts.
Operators and supervisors also needed to be prepared psychologically to work for a hotline during this highly stressful time. Employees attended a series of educational online seminars, learned to correctly process the most complex requests, and learned practical methods of dealing with stress.
By mobilizing all staff resources and reducing the time needed to launch, the helpline was able to handle peak demand in early April, when announcement of the general self-isolation regime increased requests from 3,000 to 10,000 calls a day.
Interactive Voice Response (IVR)
If an information centre is handling inquiries across a number of domains, some operators functions can be automated. Interactive voice response plays a key role in this automation: routing calls reduces wait times, while pre-recorded answers to frequently asked questions can, in some cases, completely replace the need to connect with an operator.
The voice menu of the In This Together Helpline was expanded as its areas of operation expanded: without any input from the operator, clients could be transferred to psychological and spiritual support lines, listen to information about labour law violations, pension withdrawal, or protocol for receiving single-issuance food assistance.
Thoughtful additions to the IVR reduced operators workloads by 20%.
If the call centre receives a large number of routine requests, it is worth transferring the handling of these requests to a robot. Implementing a voice bot capable of independently processing simple requests or gathering initial data helps lower peak demand and reduces operational costs. The main advantage of using a bot is an unlimited number of parallel calls and round-the-clock automation of client support.
Over two and half months of work, the In This Together Helpline voice bot handled over 50,000 calls related to the delivery of groceries and medications. The wait time for those needing to talk with a live operator was halved.
The In This Together Helpline voice bot handled over 50,000 calls.
Though, there were also disadvantages stemming from the projects target demographic: elderly people were not always able to keep up with the robot, regional accents confused machine algorithms, and one request came in with an automatically recorded address of: «What apartment? I told you, its a village. Youre dense.»
High-quality service and an individualized approach remain our priorities, even during peak demand for the hotline. By recording and listening to calls, supervisors are able to control the quality of the service being provided. Analysing requests and gathering statistics and detailed reports allows for scripts to be updated in a timely manner and rapid responses to the audiences most up-to-date demands.
Proposals for optimizing the CRM system for accepting requests were gathered from operator feedback and swiftly implemented, significantly reducing the time to process a call.
The secrets to the success of the In This Together Helpline are its well-established communication channels on all levels, constant contact with the client, and the thoughtful optimization of all elements of the work process.
By helping launch the hotline for at-risk citizens, the Roscongress Foundation continues to make their contribution to ameliorating the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
We are ready to apply our successful knowledge towards implementing new projects at any scale. Foundation specialists will organize the launch of a turnkey contact centre for your company or event, organize the work of your hotline and information and technical support services, organize calls to your client base, gather feedback, and present detailed statistics.
Authored by: Information and Service Department of the Roscongress Foundation Delegate Management Directorate