Technology and the third sector: a positive force for social change
"Not-for-profit organisations have provided a trusted and valued source of independent advice for people throughout England for many years. They are a vital part of our national support infrastructure and somewhere to turn to in times of crisis."
Nick Hurd, MP
In these times of uncertainty, it's more important than ever that citizens can access any advice they need, when they need it. Unfortunately, the past year-and-a-half of social distancing and the resulting transition to remote working has placed considerable demands on the third sector in this regard, with legacy IT infrastructure frequently struggling to accommodate the explosion of demand for omnichannel communication and a new vision of the contact centre.
But by facing these challenges head-on, with the support of trusted technology partners, the third sector has taken the first step into a new era of digital transformation - not only in terms of weathering the challenges of the pandemic, but also putting tools in place to offer citizens the support they need, regardless of where they are based, and however they prefer to make contact.
We've seen this first-hand at Exponential-e, having worked closely with a number of not-for-profit organisations - including local communities and housing associations - to accelerate their digital transformations, ensuring they can be completed in months rather than years.
Drawing on this experience, we would encourage third-sector organisations to consider the following factors as critical elements in their own digital transformation journeys:
Not all channels of communication will necessarily be accessible to everyone who needs support, which means communication must become truly omnichannel, and any devices or platforms provided must be as inclusive and user-friendly as possible, particularly for the elderly or vulnerable. Whether they prefer to make contact via phone, video call, email, or chat, they should be automatically connected to the right agent and enjoy a consistently pleasant, reassuring experience throughout their interaction. Exponential-e's own contact centre solution, powered by Puzzel, was designed with this in mind, providing agents with everything they need to ensure successful resolutions through a single pane of glass.
Never lose sight of the wider UX pictureA smooth journey - from the initial point of contact through to the final resolution - is key to delivering positive citizen outcomes. Citizens are already likely to be feeling concerned and anxious when they make contact, and so will expect assurance that their request is being acted upon with the utmost efficiency. Automation is key here. All information relevant to the case should be stored securely and automatically at the point of creation, then be made readily available to the appropriate agents at any future points of contact. This will ensure they have all the information they need to offer accurate, effective, and supportive advice straight away, minimising the need for repeat points of contact.
Leading-edge analytics will help drive successful resolutions
The third sector generates and manages higher volumes of citizen data on a daily basis than any other point in its history. If this is successfully capture and stored, then it will provide a rich source of insights into any trends in the support citizens are seeking out and how effectively their needs are being met.
Choose the right technology partner
Large-scale digital transformation is challenging, there's no doubt, especially at the speed with which organisations have been forced to accelerate their plans throughout COVID-19. The support of a trusted technology partner is therefore vital, especially important for third-sector organisations, who have highly specific performance, data security, and compliance. An effective technology partner should not only be able to offer a leading-edge portfolio of IT, connectivity, and communications solutions, but demonstrate a clear commitment to making a difference in our communities and experience working with not-for-profit organisations.
Exponential-e has long advocated for technology as a positive force for social change, and the challenges and triumphs of the past year have very much confirmed this for us. With the right tools in place to support effective communication and collaboration - wherever agents and citizens are connecting from, and across every channel - the third sector will emerge from COVID-19 ready to provide more accessible, more inclusive, and more effective support to citizens all over the UK. We look forward to offering our continued support in order to make this a reality!