Getting Help "OnDemand" from 211 in Oklahoma! A Fully Automated Text Referral Utility

Getting help by text through a fully automated triage that queries end users for their zip code and need and then presents the information to the CRM and receives the three closest referrals and then delivers those referrals to the end user's mobile phone in under 30 seconds! Amazing right?

So, how does it work? Simple. Oklahoma residents text keyword "211OK" to 898211 and then what happens next is truly magical. A series of text messages will ensue obtaining end user's zip code and issue and then, within seconds, "thank you... in a moment you will receive three referrals for your zip code and need." Then, beep, beep, beep (or buzz, buzz, buzz depending on your phone) the screen lights up with the referrals and the end user never utters a word to the call specialist. The exchange is recorded in their CRM (powered by "RTM Designs") and a live operator doesn't even need to know that the event took place.

We're so excited about this new functionality and look forward to sharing it with other 211s and I&Rs. Please note, with each OnDemand encounter, end users are alerted that they can text their zip code at anytime to access live support. So, if something goes wrong or they can't find what they're looking for, they're always just a text away from two-way, live support. We understand that automated referrals can be tricky business and we want to be sensitive to the fact that automation will not solve everyone's problems. However, so far, this tool has saved the agency time and resources. They're already answering less calls because more of those contacts are being handled by the OnDemand service. So, in that respect, it's doing exactly what it's supposed to be doing, helping alleviate stress on over-burdened phones.  

According the Oklahoma 211, they see this as just another choice in how their community receives information. You can go to their website and find resources through the decision tree or you can text 211OK to 898211 and respond to the automated questions. The Next-Gen help-seeker is already here, walking among us.  Oklahoma 211 is working to find ways to expand their service capacity so that they can make a smooth transition and hopefully bridge the generation gap by giving GenYs and Millennials information in ways that are more consistent with Next-Gen preferences. This work builds on prior work in Idaho and Connecticut where automated referrals are being transmitted to mobile phones in a fully-automated exchange. In Connecticut, it's food bank referrals, in Idaho, it's a free lunch program during the summer months. 

Interested in learning more about how Oklahoma 211 started this work? Donnie House is the project lead, she can be reached at: visit their website! 

If you're interested in learning more about OnDemand Text services, text DEMO to 85511 or call us at 805.653.6000 You can can also email

We are so pleased with the project! It’s already making a huge difference in how our community receives help with critical resources like utility assistance and food related resources while freeing up specialist to focus on helping other clients with more complex needs. A win-win!
— Donnie House, Program Manager, Community Service Council, Tulsa, Oklahoma 211