How to set up a helpline

22nd Apr 2020
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Louise Wilson at Moneypenny

By Louise Wilson, Business Manager - Corporate from Moneypenny

With the country in the grip of a national crisis and many businesses trying to prioritise their products and services to those most in need, it could be timely to set up a dedicated phone line.

Why?

Many accountancy practices have seen their call volumes increase over the last few weeks as demand for their products, services and expertise has done the same.  

Launching a helpline could help to prioritise services for struggling businesses and sole traders, as well as provide support and guidance on particular Covid-19 related queries such as furloughing staff and delaying HMRC payments.

For many, it has become apparent that a dedicated phone or helpline would help to ensure that priority audiences’ needs are met, rather than being lost in a deluge of enquiries, and that resource can be distributed accordingly.  

How?

By working with an outsourced telephone answering provider it is quick and simple to set up a dedicated phone line.

Firstly, giving the phone line its own separate number means that an outsourced partner can answer and handle all calls with ease on your behalf. It does not need to integrate with your in-house telephony system  nor does it require you to resource it.  All calls can be logged and information passed to the appropriate person or department within your firm for follow-up.

You can choose the number too with national 0333, freephone 0800 and regional e.g. 0203 options available to best suit the needs of your audience and brand image.

It is also important to think about the greeting the caller receives.  Are you giving your helpline an identity?  Is it the Furlough hotline for employers or a Small Business helpline regarding business grants  and cash flow issues? Whatever you choose, it’s important to ensure a professional and on-brand greeting so that callers feel reassured and confident they’re in the best hands.

Take time to also think about how you want call information to be gathered, logged and shared.  Do you want call handlers to just capture names, phone numbers and a snapshot of their enquiry? For accountancy practices keen to gather more comprehensive information from callers, it is possible to integrate helpline information with CRM systems, quickly turning calls into permanent data records. This is the best option if furloughing has left you without people to do this manually and a good supplier will be able to act as both receptionist and data-inputter for your helpline.

Managing caller expectations is very important, particularly in times of heightened stress and anxiety, so you will need to consider your follow-up strategy.  How quickly will callers hear back from one of your team?  If someone will be back in touch later that working day, or perhaps within a 48 hour time period, callers need to know.  Your outsourced telephone partner will be able help you identify your needs and turn this into an effective script that provides an appropriate level of support to helpline callers.