Developing Helpline Services
Our new funding agreement with the GREaT Foundation at last gives us the security to plan and develop our helpline services over a three year period. This means that we will be able to improve and add to the range of services we provide by planning and investing cost-effectively.
Although most of our HelpLine support is still provided over the phone, our online live chat alternative – NetLine – is becoming increasingly popular and now accounts for nearly a third of our answered calls. Alongside this we also provide online Chatrooms and Forums, moderated by Gamcare staff, allowing individuals to exchange experiences and gain support from others with similar problems.
We will now be able to:
- Deliver an impartial, confidential, multi-channel service from 8am – Midnight, 365 days a year
- Integrate the technology running our HelpLine and NetLine, so that advisers will be able to switch easily between the two, ensuring much more efficient use of resources and a better service to callers
- Launch new, dedicated services for under-16s, affected others and non-English speakers
- Develop our use of social media to improve reach and effectiveness
The quality and value for money of our service will be measured and assured by:
- Obtaining The HelpLine Association’s helpline quality standard
- Maintaining our standard that 85% of callers should rate the service as excellent or very good
- Increasing the number of target calls we answer from 42% to 50% of answered calls
- Increasing the percentage of calls answered from 83% to 88%
At present the GamCare number (0845 6000 133) requires the caller to pay – 2p/minute or less from a BT landline, and between 20p-40p/minute from mobiles (depending on the provider). From 1st April 2012 we will introduce, alongside the existing number, a freephone number which we will trial and evaluate over 12 months.
Why do we need to trial this? Whilst freephone appears intuitively to deliver significant advantages for callers by removing any potential financial obstacle to seeking help and increasing confidentiality for some, there are also possible downsides: introduction of freephone is likely to increase the number of non-target calls (eg misdirected, prank or mischievous calls), which increases costs and has an impact on staff morale; a change of number may confuse the public and other providers; and there are costs involved in changing and publicising a new number.
We therefore intend to work very closely with GREaT, the industry and other agencies to design and set up the trial, and to monitor carefully the impact on call volumes, our staff and costs. Trialling and double-running the two contact numbers will allow us to minimise costs by replacing publicity material as existing supplies are exhausted or as machines are replaced. It will also ensure there is no disruption or confusion for callers.
These are exciting times for our HelpLine, and we always welcome any comments or feedback on our services – do email us on email@example.com