Helping the Centers That Help Others

Helping the Centers That Help Others

/ Current Issue, Operations, Strategy, People, Technology
Helping the Centers That Help Others

Nonprofit organizations’ contact centers have been struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic, but there are strategies to assist in the new normal.

All of us rely on the selfless nonprofit organizations that exist to help others in need, whether directly or indirectly, by their actions that make a difference in others’ lives and, by extension, in our own. That includes the staff but also the many volunteers who work for them, including in their contact centers.

The horrific events over the past two years and today have made us rely even more on these organizations’ centers and people. Unfortunately, they too have been impacted.

So to understand nonprofit organizations and their contact centers and where they could go as we enter this disruptive new normal, we began to ask ourselves several key questions. And by doing so we came up with answers that could help them carry out their vital missions.

Q. What are the top challenges facing nonprofit contact centers?

Contact volumes fluctuate based on current events, which means that nonprofit contact centers need to have solutions that are flexible and scalable to address the need of citizens, donors, recipients, and the teams that help them.

But legacy on-premise contact center systems often have limited abilities to scale and require expensive intensive IT support just to “keep the lights on.”

These applications also often lack the capability to enable remote work, which many employees are now used to and insist on in order to keep working for organizations. Doing so could help reduce worker burnout and turnover i.e., the Great Resignation, which contact centers must get a handle on in order to fulfil their missions.

Many nonprofits also are challenged with delivering metrics related to the impacts they have in their communities that affect their ability to attract and retain donors and donations. But too often the existing on-premise tools lack those capabilities as well.

Q. Nonprofits also use outbound customer contact. But there have been issues, such as fraud and spoofing, and there have been more regulations. Please discuss.

The discussion around interoperability tends to index more towards the for-profit industry for multiple reasons.

However, it is just as important for systems to be speaking to each other in nonprofits to ensure that fraud and abuse doesn’t happen.

When you can leverage data from profiles of connected systems, which can be checked virtually instantaneously, you are not only delivering a seamless experience, but also one that can be securely validated.

However, it is just as important for systems to be speaking to each other in nonprofits to ensure that fraud and abuse doesn’t happen.

As always, it’s important to comply Do Not Call (DNC) regulations and the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). To ensure safe calling, nonprofits should make sure they are operating from a fresh version of the DNC list every day and overwrite the file they previously downloaded.

Q. What best practices are you seeing emerging that will help nonprofit contact centers become more successful going forward?

Nonprofit organizations need all-in-one composable contact center-as-a-service (CCaaS) solutions that allows them to scale globally without additional effort and risk.

CCaaS functionalities include providing secure on-demand browser-based access to applications from anywhere, including remote locations.

Having that flexibility and scalability allows the nimble workforce to focus on value-add work that addresses the needs of the communities and clients they serve, which is more fulfilling for mission-driven employees, thereby improving job satisfaction and reducing burnout and turnover.

Nonprofit contact centers should also leverage cloud-based technologies that offer capabilities to improve efficiency and effectiveness with workflow orchestration and automation.

These include digital capabilities that also support empathetic service delivery, which enable a better understanding of the needs of the clients, thereby reducing frustration with repeating the same stories multiple times.

There are now new capabilities within CCaaS applications that permit organizations to have greater insights into community needs as well as employee challenges.

The technologies allow nonprofit organizations to more easily leverage more compelling data that is aligned to their missions.

As a result, nonprofits can more readily identify productive actions to more effectively address their missions and more easily report on their impacts, thereby making more compelling cases for donations.

Q. Any examples?

Many nonprofits’ funding also comes from governments, so these entities are constantly in touch with them.

We have seen recent steps that acknowledge the crucial role the customer experience plays, like the Biden administration’s new executive order.

In one example, a healthcare organization operating a crisis hotline leveraged Genesys reporting capabilities to capture and document trends in contact center topics and map that information to funding sources, resulting in improved grant funding.

nonprofit vs. for-profit contact centers

What are the key differences between non-and-for-profit contact centers?

The first one is funding. As a nonprofit, solution pricing is important. Many nonprofits have small teams (often as few as one or two people), and they aren’t all focused on managing the platforms.

Nonprofit team members typically have to be jacks of all trades. For example, the same person who is architecting the inbound flows is the one who is also managing the secure single sign on, processing the onboarding account, or troubleshooting a laptop with a trackpad that’s not working. But that means they can’t have deep skills everywhere.

Therefore every dollar a contact center manager spends on IT (or anything else in their department) is money that’s not being directed towards helping other people.

This means that nonprofit contact centers need intuitive technology that enables them to operate nimbly and effectively without requiring significant investments in vendor professional services or IT staff that are not directly addressing the missions.

In contrast, traditional enterprise contact centers have large support teams, managing many calls and contacts, with people dedicated just to telephony relationships and routing.

Second, while for-profit call centers are measured on their effectiveness and efficiency, such as average call handle time or case resolution, for some nonprofit contact centers it’s more about the quality of the conversation, and agents are focused on one conversation at a time.

With nonprofits the agents and the callers truly care and are passionate about their organizations’ missions, which is key to public support, fundraising, and attracting volunteers.

These types of contact centers then need technology to get the agents the information required to engage with relevant and personalized support.

Brian Chidester

Brian Chidester

Brian Chidester is Industry Vice President, Public Sector at Genesys.

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