You’ve probably seen or heard a reference to the email from AIRS called “It Is No Longer All About the Calls…”
The ideas expressed in the email mark a significant shift in the way AIRS members communicate with their clients. With the rapid growth of text across all demographics (Americans under 55 text more than they talk on the phone and email) this is also an important time to learn about the crucial role of texting and how to differentiate between services and capacity.
In fact, here at PreventionPays we are hyper-focused on making the platform more useful to contact centers. To further demonstrate our commitment to the AIRS sector, PreventionPays Text has partnered with AIRS to bring members a significant cost reduction in the standard I&R package! Read more about our partnership with AIRS by going here: http://www.preventionpaystext.com/airs-ems-specialoffer/
If you haven’t seen the AIRS email, here it is in its entirety:
Is your I&R service answering fewer calls than two years ago?
Maybe that question reads hollow as your I&R phones seldom stop ringing but even if you are struggling to handle existing demand without more staff … there is still a fair chance that fewer calls are coming in, even if you still can’t answer them all …
However, we do know that for many I&Rs, decreasing call volume is a discernible pattern. And this should not be surprising as it reflects the reality of changing demographics and personal preferences that has been widely predicted within I&R circles.
Economic improvements might be one factor but what we are seeing is the continued shift to web-based assistance and the use of Chat and Text. Put crudely, every year at one end of the age spectrum, a percentage of I&R clients who prefer the telephone leaves our active market and are replaced at the other end of the spectrum, by I&R clients who use voice interactions far less. And as for the folks between those extremes – people like you and me – to varying degrees, phoning has become what you do when you don’t have other options.
This is something that we all know and within I&R, we need to keep translating this knowledge into actions.
This is far from a complete list of the enhancements, improvements and opportunities that make up everyone's I&R to-do list. But it is a snapshot of what every I&R should be looking at...
- It needs to be promoted as much as your phone number.
- If there is an online resource database, it should be easily found (i.e. your website either opens up on the database or it is the most central and most visible click on the page).
- Your online database should not look like a database. It should use graphic guided searches geared to the most common needs of your community.
- You should also add extensive meta-tags to ensure it shows up in relevant Google searches
- And it must be mobile friendly
- You need to have it available or be moving quickly towards it.
- Many I&Rs have introduced Chat over the past 2-3 years (while some have been offering it for 5+ years). Chat is being used by all ages and all sectors. ADRCs that offer Chat find it being used by clients with disabilities and by caregivers.
- The number of I&R Chats is increasing exponentially every year.
- This is the next growth area for I&R coverage.
- One 2-1-1 launched Text service early this year and now handles more than 1,500 text inquiries a month.
- Text allows I&Rs to explore innovative opportunities to push information and messages out to clients within seconds (think disaster, think public health, think appointments).
- Logically, the use of Text skews to lower income individuals (people who only have mobiles and where Text usage is the cheaper option).
Here is some information from the commercial world to consider … Texting to Surpass Phone Calls for Business Communication … and … Can I Text Your Call Center … and from a different angle, this is from Innovations for Poverty Action … and this on the ‘Art and Science of Reminders’ (and could this seem to signal a potentially new dimension to I&R follow-up?! – some I&Rs are already exploring variations of this for income tax programs).
Essentially, we need to continue to provide communities with I&R services that meet everyone’s current and future preferences.
In case you missed them the first time around, here is an AIRS website self-assessment template and an AIRS guide to providing online Chat. Going on the AIRS Networker and entering “Text” into the main search box will bring up a number of discussion threads on this topic that have been part of an active dialogue over the past year.