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Overview

CABA (Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association) is the charity that supports the ICAEW (Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales) community. They offer advice, guidance, training and individualised support in all areas of wellbeing, from physical and mental, to career and financial support. Services are delivered via email, website, a 24-hour hotline, or by calling their main offices.

In March 2020, CABA vacated the office completely to work from home. The charity needed to make sure members could still access vital services and support and that they would still be able to speak to the right person about their support.

Recipe status

This recipe has been in use since March 2020.

We are not sharing this recipe as the perfect solution to a problem, but we believe Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association’s learnings could be very useful to other organisations.

Users and needs served

  • As a service user interested in what support I’m eligible for (or what could be right for my situation), I need to speak with someone to discuss my options
  • As a service user currently receiving support, I need to get in touch with my case management officer
  • As a service user in distress, I need to speak to someone who will be calm, empathetic, and helpful
  • As a case management officer or support officer, I need my clients to be able to get in touch with me or my department, especially if they’re not comfortable using email or the webform
  • As a staff member, I need to be equipped to handle the calls I receive

Software and tools used

3CX

3CX is a business communication solution used to manage office phone and voicemail systems.

Cost

3CX offers a range of services available through a tiered pricing model to suit your organisation’s needs. You can view pricing information here.

Considerations

The 3CX phone software offers a flexible solution with a range of functionality. It offers reporting capabilities and can generate monthly automated reports regarding both internal and external calls. Reports can be configured to display different statistics.

It’s simple to use for the average person to set up their voicemail or record a new ‘receptionist’ message.

3CX works on mobile devices and via web browsers.

Recipe steps

1. Identify the issues

See whether you are receiving complaints about your current systems – both from external service users and your internal team.

Start documenting these complaints and gather data on how many calls might be getting missed.

Look at internal processes and determine if it is the software or the processes that are the issue.

2. Test your processes

Research internal processes and test out different ways of receiving inbound calls to see how you can become more efficient.

This can unearth new problems that you can feed back into creating solutions.

Identify where your current system is successful and where you need to make an improvement.

3. Present solutions to senior leadership

Propose the changes you want to be made and bring your leadership onboard to start scaling up the project.

4. Train your staff

Be clear with the staff about the changes being made and offer training.

Make the training clear for the staff and make a presentation with visual aids.

Run a webinar for the staff and record the session for those who cannot attend and for people to refer back to.

Make sure line managers are comfortable, and signpost team leaders who staff can go to if they encounter problems.

5. Understand user needs

Use prior research on common themes of inbound calls to develop new strategies.

Try not to give lots of options, especially if your users are likely to be calling in a crisis.

Once you have established the possible re-directs that users can choose from, then create an internal rota within your team outlining who answers when.

Use prior research on common themes of inbound calls and develop options familiar to users.

Don't use internal team names if a user wouldn't recognise those.

6. Monitor the system

Access automated reports on how many calls are being answered.

Check-in with managers about how the new system is working for their teams.

Have a formal three-to-six month review after implementing changes, or when you might need to re-think the system due to any changes in work style (e.g. going back to the office).

Guidance

Have a backup system – this can be helpful for out of hours.

Communicate to staff that it’s a working process and remember that sometimes glitches can be fixed easily.

Understand that sometimes it’s not always going to work smoothly.

Risks

Different phones could change the layout and the app can update so this may cause some issues in training.

Thanks

Many thanks to Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association for contributing this recipe.

Licence

This recipe is licensed under a Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International Licence.

That means you are free to copy, redistribute, and build on the text of this recipe, but only for non-commercial purposes (if you want to use it for commercial purposes, get in touch with us at [email protected]). You must give credit to both Catalyst and Chartered Accountants Benevolent Association and link back to this page. If you build on this recipe then you must share your version under this same licence.

Recipe published on April 23rd, 2021. Last updated April 27th, 2021