£421 million was made available to County Councils and Unitary Authorities in England to support those most in need to help with significantly rising living costs.
The government distributed funds from the new Household Support Fund to councils in England to directly help those who need it most. The grant is distributed through small payments to support vulnerable households meet daily needs such as food, clothing, and utilities.
Back in June 2022 the only way for our residents to apply for the fund was by calling our Contact Centre.
Several social media posts from residents unhelpfully encouraged residents to phone for ‘Free money!’
The two combined resulted in our Contact Centre experiencing unprecedented demand.
One week in June we received an average of 570 calls per day, some of our callers waited on hold for over 6 hours – these highlight how important this grant is to our residents.
The same week our agents were only able to answer 28% of these calls. This was unacceptable and the service recognised that urgent action was required.
What did we do?
We worked with our Contact Centre team and setup an online form within 3 working days using Liberty Create.
The online form enables our residents to apply online capturing all the information we need from them. Our agents can see incoming applications and easily prioritise them based on the information provided.
Using Liberty Create our agents assess each application, having all the information we need makes this assessment as quick as possible without the need to contact the resident.
We launched the form on 4th July and to date have received over 6,500 applications.
2 days after launching the form we implemented ‘behind the scenes’ automated fraud checks to help our agents. These checks flag when an applicant and/or the same household has applied for the grant multiple times. Our agents loved this feature as it helped them to speed up their processing times even further!
The following day we implemented automated emails to keep our residents informed about their application, reducing the need for residents to call our Contact Centre.
In addition to the online form, we also made some key changes to our telephone dialogue – what the resident hears when they call our Contact Centre. The dialogue now:
- Clearly explains the fund criteria
- encourages residents to apply online where possible
Where are we now?
These changes reduced our inbound calls by 75%. Our agents can now focus on processing inbound applications rather than answering calls.
Before implementing the online form, we were receiving daily complaints from residents – these have now been reduced significantly.
We can also see a reduction in cost of our freephone number. Volume reductions on our 0800 numbers will save circa £100k per annum.
We continue to monitor the situation with our Contact Centre.