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Charity embraces blended Web Chat solution to support helpline users

“We work with people who are often very distressed; our web chat facility offers immediate yet anonymous access to support and encourages clients. Our agents on average spend twice as long on a chat session than they do on a call. Blending web chat and telephone across our agents has also given them more variety during their shift which positively impacts on the entire contact centre’s performance.” – Andy Cottrell, Chief Operating Officer, GamCare

GamCare is a leading provider of information, advice, support and free counselling for the prevention and treatment of problem gambling. Providing crisis counselling and signposting to relevant partner organisations, they helped 2700 clients in 2012 and are seeing this number rising rapidly.

Advice and support is provided through their Frontline Services which comprises the Helpline, handling telephone calls, and the NetLine, handling web chat contact. However, due to technical limitations in the contact centre, agent teams had to be split between calls and chat which frequently lead to inefficiencies as one channel would often be busier than the other at certain times of the day. This would leave one team of agents under-deployed with the other unable to cope with the volumes; to illustrate the problem, in 2012 GamCare agents handled 36,000 contacts, 70% of which were calls and 30% web chat.

Reducing inefficiencies & improving service levels

 The charity recognised the need to find a solution which would allow more efficient agent utilisation and, critically, ensure that no client contact was missed. They had also noticed a trend amongst the 18-25 year old users of their services where over 50% of their contact was through web chat, which was obviously becoming an increasingly important channel for providing support.

GamCare chose to work with IFS-mplsystems on the solution which would allow calls and web chat to be blended across all agents to remove previous inefficiencies and to improve client service levels. The solution would also provide a simple agent desktop to manage the multi-channel contact in one place and enable agents to work from home.

Business Benefits

  • Immediate access to support
  • Higher response rate in customer calls
  • Major increase in agent productivity
  • Increase in agent satisfaction & performance

Mike Kenward, a GamCare agent, adds: “We did not feel that blending channels across our agents would cause them problems; whilst some of our agents may not have highly developed typing skills, it is their soft skills and experience which is far more important and these come across equally well on a chat session as on a call. In fact, occasional typos or spelling mistakes re-assure NetLine users that they are talking to a real person.”

IFS-mplsystems intelligentChat solution was chosen as a quick to integrate and simple to use facility with the added benefit that it is designed specifically to blend with existing contact centre channels.  As it works in all browsers and does not require plugins to operate, there was minimal impact on GamCare’s IT resource during implementation. Whilst intelligentChat offers both multiple and group chat capabilities, GamCare only allow one session per agent due to the sensitive nature of the client contact.

The implementation and training phases were structured around GamCare’s objective to get it right first time, with rigorous testing at all stages ensuring that the agents would be provided from day one with the tools they need to help their clients.  The fully blended solution is now fully operational and includes a comprehensive reporting module.

Andy Cottrell concludes: “In July 2013, 6 months after the implementation, we’re now able to respond to almost 90% of our calls, with higher agent utilisation and satisfaction.  More importantly we’re offering a better service to our clients whether they prefer to use the traditional phone channels or web chat.”

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