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Red KMK by Kerstin Marx-Kiesinger, tetronik Marketing

How can I meet the citizens' and customers' increased need for information and reduce the burden on my call center staff?

Even many weeks after the start of the Corona crisis, the telephone lines of authorities and public institutions are still burning up. Initially, citizens mainly wanted to obtain information about the virus itself, symptoms, protective measures and recommended behaviour. The "gradual" alleviations and different regulations constantly keep the need for information alive. These include questions about economic aid, childcare for parents who are to go back to work, shop openings and much more.

Even if the prospect of gradual relief and a bit of normalisation gives hope, many questions remain unanswered and the overall development cannot yet be assessed. The sharp increase in call volumes since March will therefore continue to accompany us for quite some time.

Many institutions, administrations and municipalities have therefore set up a citizens' hotline and deployed staff to answer the hundreds of calls and the many questions from citizens. Although much, if not all, 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?

Many institutions are setting up a citizens' hotline nowSource: Feodora 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 information. Websites 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

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. 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
Citizens' hotline with DAKS application module 'Info Telephone': informs citizens, relieves call center staff

Source: Feodora via stock.adobe.com

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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