Helplines Partnership in action – members supporting members introducing webchat on a women’s aid helpline

Annika Howard
Young woman typing on a laptop

One of the benefits of Helplines Partnership membership is being able to tap into the knowledge and experience of your fellow members.

We know from members how much they appreciate being able to draw on the knowledge and learn from the experiences of their fellow members and support one another.

Supporting fellow members

Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid contacted us because they were thinking about introducing web chat to their helpline. They wanted to talk to an organisation that had already gone through the process.

We were able to put them in touch with Welsh Women’s Aid who successfully introduced webchat to their service in July 2016. Ann, Helpline Manager at Welsh Women’s Aid and Rosie, Helpline Coordinator at Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid share their experience.

Women’s Aid webchat

Rosie explains, “I got in touch with Helplines Partnership because I wanted to have a chat with other organisations who were already using webchat.

It was great, being able to talk to Ann from the Live Fear Free Helpline. They work with a very similar group of service users to us and so as well as being able to answer technical questions and questions about systems, I was also able to ask about whether the webchat is traceable.

It was so helpful being able to talk to someone who understood the potential barriers and concerns that some of our women would have about contacting us via webchat.”

Sharing learnings

Ann said: “When you are thinking about introducing something new there are lots of questions and lots of things to think about and I was more than happy to talk to Rosie.

“Before we introduced webchat at the Live Fear Free Helpline we held focus groups with some of our service users to find out if they would use the service.

We had a real cross-section of women in the group and it was useful to capture their feedback and use it to help us shape our service.

I talked about the things that we had learned and highlighted some things to be aware of that could trip you up.

For example, be careful with your wording for your GDPR disclaimer to ensure that it doesn’t put people off from accessing the service.

The GDPR requirements need to be clear but not in a wordy or lengthy statement. Write it in language that’s easy to understand.

I was able to share those learnings with Rosie too.”

Mutual benefit

To really understand how the webchat system worked, Rosie agreed with Ann that she would contact the service to experience it first-hand.

At a pre-agreed time, Rosie began a webchat and found it was quick and easy to use.

For Ann, it was great to be able to ask Rosie questions about her experience using their webchat.

After having spoken to Ann, and used the service Rosie, was able to produce an FAQ sheet, for her senior leadership team, to help inform their discussions about introducing the service in the future.

Three tips for introducing webchat

Ann’s three key pieces of advice for any organisations who are thinking about introducing webchat:

  1.  Don’t be too ambitious at the start, introduce webchat slowly.
  2. You really need to think about your funding and capacity.
  3. Take the opportunity to talk to organisations that have already introduced webchat and learn from their experiences.

Information and training

If you would like to learn more about digital helpline skills, to support your service users via email or webchat, or you are thinking about introducing it we offer helpline specific training.

Our members tell us how much they value being able to learn from other members and the Helplines Partnership team so if you have a question please do get in touch.

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