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: dhouse@csctulsa.org 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 info@preventionpaystext.com

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

"IN211 Partnership" Works Together to Respond to I&R Texts!

In early 2016, IN211 Partnership approached the PreventionPays team with one question, can we share our traffic? We said, when do you want to start? 

It's great that 211s can offer their services through more channels than the phone. With 80% of Americans texting more than they make voice calls and email, combined, it's no wonder texting has become the most important communication upgrade for 211 Contact Centers. But what happens when a text isn't answered? 211s in Indiana are working together to ensure that doesn't happen.

PreventionPays Text has lead the way developing an enterprise level website powered by a Tier 1 short code, 898211 aka "TXT211" that enables 211 Contact Centers to respond via live two-way text conversations, to requests from the public for help finding food, shelter, health services, clothing, child care, housing and so much more. How does it work? The model is simple. An end user (individuals, families) can text their 5-digit zip code to the short code, 898211. Then, their text is routed to the 211 that's responsible for calls/texts from that zip code. This model is working extremely well. In fact, United Way 211 in Atlanta (the first 211 in the U.S.) saw their text traffic go from 500 unique encounters in April 2015, to now more than 4,500 request per month!  And that number just keeps climbing! 

We believe the drastic increase is due to the expanding base of end users. More and more people who grew up texting (gen-y, millennials) are finding themselves entering the stage of their life where they need more social services. A temporary financial setback can be catastrophic without help - losing one's job results in loss of wages, which results in missed payments. What supports are available for them? Who will help them with basic needs like putting food on the table and paying rent? That's where 211 comes in. They are by nature, a help hotline for people who need help, a clearinghouse for information and referrals (I&R).

211s specialize in connecting communities to these vital resources. And they're a filter for all the predatory services like high interest personal loans and payday advances. They maintain a current database of social services and they're a critical safety net for the public - they keep people off the streets with roofs over their heads and a shirt on their backs - literally. Great, right? But what happens when the people needing the help stop using the channel 211 uses to make these connections? "Calling" 211 (as in picking up the phone and dialing 2-1-1) is becoming an increasingly foreign concept, particularly among the next-gen help-seeker that uses their smart phone for just about everything, EXCEPT placing phone calls. Who could've predicted that?! In fact text is the most used function on our phones. By contrast, making calls is 6th on that list. (source: PEW Research)

This is the cold, hard truth that 211 managers are facing, with declining numbers of calls, which grow month over month. Many 211 managers are turning to other channels to boost their numbers. And text has been the most widely used alternative. Why? It's universal. Just about everyone texts. Seniors are now texting 211. According to Pew Research, Americans 55 and under text more than they talk on the phone and email. And it's the 55 and up segment that is fastest growing.  211 can reach all groups regardless of age, gender, ethnicity. A simple, easy way to get vital information. 

The short code, 898211 is provisioned with all carriers in the United States. In fact, it's the only Tier 1 short code provisioned specifically for 211 related communications and now shared by dozens of 211s across the country. Unsure if your 211 is covered? Try it! Text your zip code to 898211! For covered zip codes, you'll get an optin message and simultaneously routed to the closest 211. For zip codes that are not yet covered, you'll get an automated bounce back, "We're sorry we don't understand your text... please only text the zip code/keyword for the program you're trying to reach or dial 211." The system is calibrated to always provide a response even when live help isn't available.

In Indiana, all six 211 sites have successfully launched texting services on 898211 with one additional component - they've agreed to join forces to create a safety net for each other! That means if you live in Indiana, your text will go to the closest 211. If the closest 211 doesn't respond to your text in 5 minutes, the other five sites have agreed to be backup and to cover for each other, in the same ways that they cover each others' phone calls when needed.  So, staff at the other sites will get an alert about the unanswered text in their neighbor's queue and then have the option to click the text and respond! Therefore, if specialists are tied up on calls, or they need to schedule an all-staff meeting, the "network" will respond when any of the individual sites cannot. This project is emblematic of where services with an online presence (web-based, SaaS) are going next. Why let a text go unanswered?  By working together on the same text service platform, these agencies are tackling a very big issue with a very simple solution.  Congratulations, Indiana 211 Partnership for being trailblazers in the I&R sector!  It's also important to note, the short code 898211, a dedicated, branded short code for 211 services, is powering these communications. The concept of sharing traffic is only made possible because everyone in the state is texting 898211 and all 211 contact centers are using the same web-based application to respond to those texts.  In early 2016, IN211 Partnership approached the PreventionPays team with one question, can we share our traffic? We said, when do you want to start? 

Want more info? Are you a 211 seeking texting services for your agency? Text DEMO to 898211 or call us at our office 805.653.6000. You may also email info@preventionpaystext.com

Are you a member of the public and need help? Text your zip code to 898211 or call 211.  Want more info about this exciting work? Visit IN211 Partnership or email info@IN211.org 

Cheryl Graham, director or United Way 211 Howard County will be sharing about their progress and strategies during a webinar on September 6, you can register here (make sure to select the September 6th option): https://attendee.gotowebinar.com/rt/2726525326567937026

Great news!  IN211 developed marketing materials to promote the new service and call to action: "text your zip code to 898211". They have generously offered to share their materials and messages with other 211s. You can view their portfolio here:   http://unitedwayhoco.org/get-help/2-1-1united-way-of-howard-county/2-1-1-marketing-materials

Now Supporting Fully Automated, Assignable Surveys!

Build Deep Client Engagement with Fully Automated, Customizable, Assignable Surveys!

You might already be familiar with the survey tools. In the past, surveys would need to be assigned to a client based on the keyword they text. Now you can assign a survey to a client at anytime and it doesn't have to be tied to a keyword. This is available while you are viewing a client. The feature is on the right under client attributes, see arrow "Surveys".

Any surveys that you have set up with us will be available here as "assignable" and "schedulable". If you don't see the fields then contact "support@preventionpaystext.com" and we will activate them for you. If you have never set up a survey with us and you would like to, just send us an email with the request. Surveys can be triggered by simply selecting the survey and setting the delay time and saving. The survey title will appear in pending status in the same section with the date time that the survey is scheduled to run. That's it!  Here are a just a few ways automated surveys are being used:

  • Quality Assurance
  • Risk Assessments
  • Follow Up Care
  • Screening/Needs Assessments
Capture high quality data with zero impact on staff!

Capture high quality data with zero impact on staff!

For most agencies, calling someone on the phone to survey them just isn't a workable model anymore, too time consuming with paltry results. So, rather than settling for something that is broken, change the model. With more and more people preferring text for these types of communications, the text survey is a game changer. By simply adapting the communication channel, text makes this high quality data infinitely more accessible. End users more readily respond when they're able to do so via text, a simple, convenient way to answer questions that (when part of a phone call) are largely viewed as burdensome, that you're pestering them. Moreover, with text, the client is less likely to "satisfy" - a phenomenon that plagues the live phone method. 

In addition to fully automated text message surveys, here are some other ways PreventionPays Text is helping agencies elevate their communication capacity:

Live, one-on-one texting for live help (because the next-gen help-seeker doesn't make voice calls anymore)

Reminders/auto-responses to keywords (educational message tracks, timed, automated)

Appointment Reminders (future and missed with live two-way help for cancellations and rescheduling. Your clients want to text you. We say, let them!)

Group Messages (create ad-hoc groups based on preference, response to triage questions, information obtained during a live text conversation, or from client profile)

Schedule a demo or contact us for a quote!

 

New Features Help Alleviate Stress on Phones

We are doing some exciting things with text!
 
In addition to live I&R support and health education message tracks that help cultivate new community partnerships, we're helping agencies (providing live help to their community) tackle high contact issues with fully automated mobile triages that query end users for information on where they are texting from and then sends referrals based on those responses.  And these tasks are fully automated! The system keeps track of every encounter and this can be done with any number of issues.  We're also helping 2-1-1s convert calls that are on hold to live text traffic! And that text traffic can be presorted based on high frequency issues and with mobile triage, those instances will be recorded and archived so every encounter is counted and archived in your private database.

We're growing and we're adding capacity!

Very soon we will deploy new ad-hoc messaging tools that will enable service providers and health information innovators to create subgroups based on information gathered over time during live text encounters. So, your message tracks evolve with your priority population as their health needs evolve.  Our text platform empowers health services with the ability to move seamlessly between live one-on-one text encounters and sms education alerts. From texting with one to texting with many in one click!

Contact us for a demo!