Citizens Advice St Helens was formed in the 1940s, along with over a thousand other bureaux, to help solve social problems brought about by World War II. The service offered by Citizens Advice St Helens is available to all, providing free, confidential and impartial advice. The service offered is holistic in helping people find a way forward. Advice is given on a range of topics from health problems to issues with debt and employment.
The year 2020 has forced the organisation to adapt and change the way they work, especially in the view of exceptional circumstances caused by a global pandemic. To protect staff, volunteers and clients, Citizens Advice St Helens had to make a difficult decision to suspend drop-in sessions and face to face appointments. They have however been able to continue to service the local community by taking advantage of the technology available to them in the form of, VS Group’s VoIP product, Charity Connect.
Citizens Advice St Helens have been a customer of VS Group for many years. Before upgrading the solution, the centre was working with a typical legacy, on-premise system. David Reynolds, Operational Service Manager for the organisation explained, “we had looked at VoIP in the past but never really progressed with it, but Kevin explained it in a clear manner for us”, so the expected benefits of making the transition were clearly defined from the beginning.
Having the new system up and running has meant that there is no longer a necessity to be at the office, staff can work from home offering advice and support, as and when required. Call waiting times to the Adviceline have reduced dramatically, especially during a time of greater demand, as the solution has the capability to deliver calls to multiple available users.
The new system comes with an app for a computer desktop and mobile phone, plus the traditional hardware in the form of a desk phone which you can plug directly into your router at home. David who uses all three options to ensure he never misses a call adds, “in the past, there was one option and that was a desktop telephone. We can now extend our services out into the community. It is going to change the way we work”.
Internal operations have also been enhanced as each staff member now has their own Direct Dial In (DDI) number, so it is much easier to get through to the right person rather than dialling into a hunt group with multiple users. Equally, this works well with external calls, so members of the community can get straight through to the member of staff they have been working with.
When asked how the VS Group helped with the implementation and transition to VoIP, David could not commend the support provided by the team enough, he said “I can’t praise Alex highly enough, and Kevin. Alex gave as much support as she could to us during that period of time, over and above. We were kept up to date and any problems were answered within the same day, sometimes within a few minutes”.
With many exciting projects in the pipeline and a lot of potential unknown changes on the horizon, Citizens Advice St Helens are equipped with a solution that can scale and adapt as and when required, depending on the demand for services.
David and his team will continue to build on the long-standing relationship with VS Group as they move through the journey to embedding a fully hosted telephony solution throughout Citizens Advice St Helens. They are assured that no matter when or what support is required VS Group will accommodate any requirements, David went on to say, “Kevin is always on hand to help and he does ring up every so often to check-in, some companies don’t do that. It’s just the little things like that”.
The benefits of Virtual Office