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Setting up a volunteer helpline is quite a job: incoming calls have to be transferred perfectly if you want to offer a confidential conversation and a listening ear.
What are the requirements for such a helpline and what steps should you take to set it up successfully? Let's go through it step by step:

What does a volunteer line do?

A helpline helps people solve problems or provides a listening ear so that people can talk about their problems. Some examples of volunteer helplines are telephone numbers where people can listen and talk about financial problems, mental health, divorce, the loss of a loved one or if they just need a good chat.

Often these helplines are staffed by experienced volunteers who offer a listening ear in their spare time. These volunteers need to be able to empathise and show understanding in all kinds of situations. These helplines are often available every working day, sometimes at weekends or at night.

Emotionally, a helpline can be very demanding on volunteers. So it is nice when the technology around the helpline runs smoothly day and night.

With the ease of use and many telephony features of our Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system, you can set up the helpline the way you want, with the right technology to allow volunteers to focus on the calls and the caller to tell their story.

Step 1: Choose a nice phone number

You can, of course, set up a helpline using your local telephone number. This will give you a strong local feel, which is not always desirable if you want to attract a national audience. That's why we recommend a national number. With a national number, anyone from anywhere in the country can call you at local rates.

An 0800 number is free to callers, which means the cost of the call is on your account.
If you don't want a free or premium rate helpline, but want callers to be able to call you at normal rates, choose a national number. We have a long list of available numbers that you can start using straight away.

Step 2: Connecting volunteers to the Helpline

Now that you have the number, you need to go to our telephony platform and set up where the phone should ring when someone calls. These destinations can be the volunteer's landline or mobile number. Or their home phone. Or an app from us that they install on their computer.

This way we make everyone part of the call team and you have a virtual call centre.

On our team page, each employee can set whether they are available to take calls at that time. This way our computer knows exactly who to transfer to at that moment.
Your helpline is now optimally available. This technique works for 1 to 250 people and is the same technique used for emergency numbers that need to be available at night, such as transplant lines.

Step 3: Add more features

You now have an easy-to-remember helpline number that connects callers to available volunteers. But what happens when everyone is busy? Thanks to Belfabriek's handy phone features, you can prepare your number for this.

For example, you can record a welcome message with the opening hours and update it when you are unavailable. With a drop-down menu, you can give callers options to choose from, so they can be put through to the right colleague straight away. And a call queue lets you put callers on hold when you are busy. If the queue gets too long, you can set it up to prompt callers to leave a message on the digital voicemail.

Have specific requirements? Our telephony API (Application Programming Interface) allows your own developer to create the perfect bespoke solution.

The telephone company for helplines

As you can see, setting up a hotline is quite feasible. At Belfabriek it is possible to start small and grow. In fact, all our clients get access to the same features, which means you can grow your numbers over time. Do you have any questions about setting up a volunteer line? Contact us for more information or to set up your helpline!

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