Contactual OnDemand Contact Center Meets Charity's Helpline Stipulations
July 18, 2011
By Linda Dobel
, TMCnet Contributor
Charities and non-profits today face greater challenges than ever due to economic downturns, both here and abroad. Having to muddle through with outdated technology only exacerbates the problem.
The Multiple Sclerosis Society (MSS), which has its National Centre in London and national offices in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales/Cymru, decided in 2009 it could no longer operate with its outdated call center system and set a goal for itself to find and deploy a contact center system that would not only support flexible staffing models, but also support its volunteers who work from their homes. This goal was very important to the Society, which is the largest charity for people affected by multiple sclerosis (MS), because among its many functions that include funding research and providing financial assistance, education and training on MS, it operates a freephone (similar to toll-free 800 and 888 numbers in the U.S.) specialist Helpline, which it says has been a core service since 1991. However, it had been using an analog system and knew it needed to switch to a digital system that was universal and could be used in any of its offices and locations.
The way the operation of the hotline is set up with a mix of staff and volunteers who work out of their homes meant the chosen system would need to be easy to use. According to Alex Beaumont, HomeNetwork volunteer project manager for the MSS, “Our Helpline enables us to offer information, support and research and it is a critical part of the service that we offer. Callers into the Helpline must remain anonymous therefore we didn’t want to be able to see their numbers appearing on our telephones – especially with such a large volunteer network. In addition, a key priority for us is to ensure a good quality line - as you can imagine some of the calls we receive are very sensitive and the last thing you want is to not be able to hear someone properly. Home working is also a main concern, as well as being able to listen into calls for training purposes and having the ability to do that either from home or the office. Whatever solution we selected needed to be able to fit all of these requirements.”
The system it found to meet all of these requirements was Contactual OnDemand Contact Center. As a pioneer in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS (News - Alert)) contact center technology, Contactual’s cloud-hosted products allowed the MSS to deploy its contact center within days, allowing 30 or more regionally based staff and volunteers to access the system daily to man the hotline. Beaumont commented, “With Contactual (News - Alert) we now have the ability to have phone, e-mail and chat. Also, with 30+ people working on the helpline we need a number of people to be online simultaneously at any given time. We couldn’t do this previously but can now with Contactual.” He also said the Society is pleased with the voice quality of the system and with its ease of use, especially because the levels of IT skills vary with the volunteers. Not only that, but he said, “The ability to control and train new volunteers plus the real-time monitoring and reporting statistic capability are also very important aspects to the system. We use these reports to understand where we are against our KPIs, which include processing 12,000 calls per year – Contactual enables us to actively track against this.”
At this stage the MSS is has not yet made full use of the system’s functionality, but Beaumont indicated that it plans to more fully take advantage of chat and e-mail. Even without exploiting all of the solution’s capabilities, he said the MSS is “delighted” with the Contactual OnDemand Contact Center and is happy to have a system in place that can “rapidly scale to meet increased demand.” Linda Dobel is a TMCnet Contributor. She has been an editor in the contact center space for more than 25 years, and has the distinction of being the founding editor of Customer Inter@ction Solutions (CIS) magazine. To read more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
Edited by Rich Steeves