The NSPCC (National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children), the UK’s leading charity specialising in child protection and cruelty prevention, has been supporting vulnerable children and their families since it was founded in 1884.
The NSPCC has helped more than 10 million children in the UK through various projects and services, including free, confidential 24-hour helplines that connect counsellors to those in need of advice and support — ChildLine for children and young people in distress or danger, and the NSPCC Child Protection Helpline for adults who are worried about a child or suspect a child to be in danger.
Getting each and every call answered is the overriding priority for the charity, as connecting to a counsellor can be vital to a child’s safety and wellbeing. The helplines rely on part-time volunteers across the UK, whose shift patterns vary greatly due to the variance in time that they can contribute. Despite the best efforts of the volunteers to cover all shifts, the NSPCC still found it difficult to fulfil its pledge to answer every single call.
Rosie Slater, Senior Business Partner at NSPCC, explains: “Our helpline system was greatly in need of modernisation. The challenge was that our requirements are highly unique. As the range of access methods was limited to phone contact, we needed a system that would not only increase our call handling capacity, but also expand our reach to the public. What’s more, we needed to improve internal processes, particularly around job scheduling, and remain considerate of our sensitive environment.
Every caller must be given detailed personal attention, as well as be treated with full confidentiality and anonymity. All of these requirements meant that we had to narrow down which systems we can actually put in place.”
The NSPCC worked closely with Conn3ct, Ciber, CharITyshare and Genesys to create and implement the bespoke technology required to fulfil its objectives. The combination of the Genesys Customer Interaction Management (CIM) platform and Conn3ct’s experience proved to be ideal.
Conn3ct developed a bespoke solution that ensured secure confidentiality on-the-ground, but also enabled the details of callers and online interactions to be available at the very top level in extreme cases. This was vital, because NSPCC cannot use CLI (Caller Line Identification) due to the importance of anonymity for the caller. NSPCC’s responsibility to each caller must be confidentiality, but they also have a duty of care and must be able to contact emergency services in critical cases.
The NSPCC invested heavily in new online tools to make its website a more user-friendly place for children and young people — including an integrated chat function that enables website users to connect directly to a counsellor. And because certain users find it easier to express themselves in writing or pictures rather than to talk to a counsellor on the phone, it also added interactive white boards, which allow users to write or draw pictures on the virtual board — which the NSPCC has found helps many children express themselves more easily, especially where serious issues are concerned.
The final development was to add Personal Inboxes (PIBS), which allow users to have their own personal area on the Website. Users can anonymously send e-mails, pose questions to the online agony aunt/uncle ‘Ask Sam,’ and also request one-to-one sessions with counsellors — all without having to use their every-day home e-mails accounts.
Rosie Slater explained: “Adding these new functions has enabled more children, young people, and adults to feel comfortable talking to us.”
“We know how unique we are, but in other areas we are similar to any other contact centre. We needed to optimise resources, reduce costs, and continually increase service levels — and we’re doing just that."
Rosie Slater continued: “Conn3ct worked with Ciber to build a case notes system that integrates with Genesys and automates the case management process. Volunteers now have all case information at hand when they’re talking to someone in need, which enables the counsellors to be more effective in identifying how they can progress the case and deliver the necessary help.”
The new system also enables the NSPCC to better manage its large volunteer team and its variable shift pattern for the adult helpline. The NSPCC now has complete visibility across different shifts and can more efficiently plan for volunteer coverage at all times — on both phonelines and online systems.
The NSPCC must also administer extensive and intense training for its counsellors, whilst still ensuring that the volunteers can get on the phones and online as soon as possible. “The techniques involved in handling the serious and life-threatening issues that we face on a daily basis must be learned and learned in detail,” explained Rosie Slater. “Our volunteers must be able to deal with the children, young people, and adults who call in, so having easy-to-use technology is a big plus. The centralised system enables our focus to be on training the volunteers to provide the required services, and not on the technical elements of delivering it.”
“The Helplines Development Programme has succeeded so far — we have modernised our contact centre, increased efficiency, and widened our reach,” said Rosie Slater. “We have seen a huge increase in the amount of Web contact since completing the project at the end of last year, and we expect that growth to continue.
“We now have high quality performance management data and interactive job scheduling across the ChildLine contact centres. This helps us ensure that our service is adequately staffed at all times, so that we can continue to provide assistance to thousands of children, young people, and adults around the UK,” concluded Rosie Slater.
Ability to answer all calls was vital to children’s safety and wellbeing.
Limited communication channels were affecting user experience.
Privacy and sensitivity were critical.
Multi-channel platform including web chat, email, SMS and messaging.
Bespoke whiteboard tool to communicate via pictures.
Fully secure to protect privacy.
Increased call handling capacity boosted calls answered from 51% to 75%.
Improved communication, accessibility and user experience for children.