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Always provide up-to-date and reliable information and at the same time relieve the hotline staff - how does that work?

Uncertainty among citizens is high – ever new and regionally different measures as well as many contradictory statements in the media raise a never-ending flood of questions.

What measures are currently in force and in which region? Where is the nearest vaccination center and how do I get an appointment? What should I do if I feel ill? Even about a year after the start of the Corona crisis, the telephone lines of administrations and other public institutions are still burning up.

Many institutions, administrations and municipalities have therefore set up a citizens' hotline and deployed staff to answer the multitude of calls and questions from citizens. Although much information is, of course, also accessible via the Internet, telephone contact is still important to citizens – especially in the current situation. What is the reason for this?

Citizens' hotline with DAKS application module 'Info Telephone': informs citizens, relieves call center staff
Source: Bojan via stock.adobe.com

Why a citizens' hotline? We do have the Internet...

For one thing, the telephone has a better reputation as a trustworthy source of informationWebsites can be hacked, and unfortunately finding your way through the jungle of information is often not easy. On the other hand, a personal, even familiar voice and the direct exchange simply feels good in times of distance and contact restrictions. Getting an answer to a specific question usually takes much less time on the phone than by searching the Internet. In regions or at peak times when the Internet is partly not available or only in very poor quality, an alternative source of information is absolutely essential. And finally, an information service by phone covers all generations of a population. Older people in particular often feel that they are being left behind by digitalisation and miss out on things that are important and worth knowing. 

Even in the long term, it is clever to offer citizens a comprehensive and reliable information service in addition to the Internet by means of a citizens' hotline. The Citizens' Hotline is frequented during many events, for example floods, large emergency operations or other events that affect citizens. But it can also be a great tool in "quiet times" to provide callers with answers to frequently asked questions, such as opening hours or appointments. 

Inform citizens – relieve employees

Many currently implemented Corona hotlines fail because they are completely overloaded by the same requests over and over again - frustration among citizens increases while the hotline agents work at their limits. If certain questions accumulate, it is advisable to record the answers and play the announcements to the callers before connecting them through to an employee. In normal times, these announcements cover the majority of citizens' questions, leaving the staff to concentrate on other questions. In times of crisis, such announcements play an even more important role: when hundreds, sometimes even thousands of calls arise, employees are extremely under pressure. However, many inquiries require the same answers over and over again, leaving little time to answer individual questions. Announcements with answers to the most frequently asked questions filter out many of these standard questions. Citizens still obtain the desired information and those with a specific question reach a free agent more quickly. 

The DAKS application 'Info Telephone' enables the implementation of such a citizens' or information hotline with the installation and administration of prepared announcements and profiles. Using the functionality 'Dialog-based announcement selection', callers are first guided by announcements to select different topics via specific keys in order to independently obtain the desired information, e.g. "Where can I get tested?", "When and where do I have to wear a faceplate?", "Where can I find the latest information from the government?", "How can I apply for economic aid?", etc.

Info Telephone – for whom?

The advantages of the Citizens' Hotline for both sides - citizens and organisations - are obvious and the demand is high. Which organisations other than public authorities could benefit from this tool to help citizens or improve their customer service?

    • All types and hierarchies of citizens´service offices
    • Utilities - to answer questions about electricity, water, gas or the next collection dates for bulky waste 
    • Schools, universities, adult education centres and other educational institutions - to answer questions from pupils and parents and to give home schooling tips
    • Hospitals, nursing homes and medical centres - to inform patients and relatives about contact points, rules of conduct and visiting hours and conditions
    • Department stores, malls and store chains - to provide customers with information on store re-openings, opening hours, rules of conduct, alternative purchase offers (e.g. online ordering)
    • Large companies and corporations - to provide employees with the latest information and regulations
    • and many more

Conclusion

With a citizens' or information hotline, you provide citizens and customers with qualified information in a simple, effective and reliable way. You can actually reach everyone, because virtually anyone can operate a telephone. You facilitate access to the desired information. You offer a trustworthy source of information. And last but not least: You cover an enormously high demand - citizens and customers are asking for it!

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