Case Study Connect Assist Background and Case Study May 2012

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Case Study

Connect Assist Background and Case Study

May 2012

Connect Assist

Unit 9, Cefn Coed Parc


Cardiff CF15 7QQ

Patrick Nash

T: 01443 827600

M: 07900 241774


Contents 3

A.About Connect Assist 4

A.About Connect Assist 4

B.Principal activities 5

B.Principal activities 5

B.1Delivering multi-channel helplines 5

B.2Digital service solutions 5

B.3Consultancy 6

C.Organisations we work for 7

C.Organisations we work for 7

D.Case studies 8

D.Case studies 8

D.1Health for Work Adviceline (Public Sector) 8

D.2A4e 9

D.3University and College Union 9

D.4National Council for Voluntary Organisations 10

D.5Renovo Workfriend 11

E.Quality assurance 12

E.Quality assurance 12

F.Recommendations 13

F.Recommendations 13

A.About Connect Assist

Connect Assist is a social business created by a charity. Our purpose is to provide support, services and technology to the Third Sector and to create jobs and growth opportunities for people in the Welsh Valleys.

Founded in 2006 by the then Chief Executive of a major UK charity, the company has had a strong social mission since the outset.

Our social mission is expressed in four key areas:

Our commitment to improving people’s lives and working to improve the effectiveness of the charity and third sector;

Creating jobs and growth opportunities for people in the Welsh Valleys;

A strong commitment to equal opportunities;

Protecting the environment.

The Board of Directors takes its social mission very seriously and ensures that these four areas are at the forefront of all strategic planning and operational decision making.

Connect Assist is a social enterprise company that was established in 2006. Based in the South Wales valleys, our purpose is to create meaningful, full-time employment and sustainable growth opportunities for people living in the local area.

We provide multi-channel helplines and digital service delivery for around 20 charity organisations and the public sector. We offer a different kind of contact centre for the Third and Public Sector. We aim to work with our customers in order for them to reach as many services users as possible, whilst maintain the delivery of real, positive and lasting changes to people’s lives.

B.Principal activities

The principal activities of the company are:

B.1Delivering multi-channel helplines

We operate helplines for third sector organisations. These provide information, support and guidance to members, service users and clients of these organisations, including:

  • Individuals requiring support with problems (including financial difficulties, debt, mental health, workplace problems), and;

  • Organisations requiring information on key issues (including employment, health and safety, legal issues).

Helplines are multi-channel, offering integrated self-service and agent support. Channels supported include telephone, email, websites, self-learning knowledge base, mobile applications, live chat and social media and we operate 24/7/365.

Connect Assist was established to bring innovation to the delivery of more traditional helpline solutions. We were founded by Teacher Support Network with an initial remit to bring innovation to their service to support teachers. In a short period of time we transitioned a telephone and email based support service to a multi-channel environment, with a strong focus on effective channel switching at the same time as retaining a focus on quality one-to-one intensive work.

Our focus throughout on channel switching ensures that core resources were deployed to high priority cases and self-service channels promoted to lower priority. As a result, service use tripled and costs reduced by 10%.

In our 24/7, 365 days a year contact centre, we are able to provide information through an online platform which ensures the service user get the best service consistently, regardless of the communication channel they choose be it Phone, Email, Text, Live Chat or Online. Our market leading web self-service capabilities provide service users with the ability to effectively find the information they need on their own, or if required with assistance through our team of experienced telephone operators.

B.2Digital service solutions

We provide hosted digital service and CRM solutions. We are the UK Third Sector resale partner for Oracle RightNow, the global leading e-service platform1. These solutions integrate web self-service (including mobile and Facebook applications) with contact centre and case management operations, and are ideally placed to deliver high volume integrated helpdesk solutions where there is an emphasis on helping the majority of service users via online channels, while ensuring that complex issues are routed to contact centre agents.

We deliver e-service solutions for a number of Third Sector organisations for use with their own staff as well as for those who we deliver helpline and helpdesk services. These include charities, membership organisations, trade unions and welfare to work providers.

B.2.1What do we mean by digital service delivery?

At Connect Assist we understand that individuals are increasingly expecting support, advice and information to be available anytime, anywhere.

For every person who would walk into a charity or public authority premises, there will be around 10 to 20 who will pick up the phone and a further 100 who would rather go online.

Therefore our digital service delivery offers service users a choice of contact solutions, ensuring they get the support and information they require, and most importantly via the method they feel most comfortable using. Key features of the digital service approach we offer include;

  • Self-help solutions for your service users;

  • Smart Assistant instead of email;

  • Online assessments;

  • Live Chat and

  • Mobile device and Facebook applications.


We deliver consultancy services to help third and public sector organisations face the challenges of the time. These include:

  • Strategy and planning facilitation,

  • Helpline and contact centre development

  • Innovation and business development,

  • Developing digital services and solutions

  • Executive coaching and coaching supervision,

  • Cost cutting and financial restructuring

C.Organisations we work for

We deliver contact centre and technology services to a number of organisations including:

  • A4e, Connect Assist supports an interactive online job seeking and support service whereby clients using My A4e have access to a comprehensive library of useful factsheets, answers and videos, to help them in their job search campaign;

  • NHS Plus. We provide a multi-channel occupational health advice helpline service to support SME's in the private and public sectors. The service is funded by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

  • Renovo, through an in work support helpline and the online Workfriend tool built in our RightNow system;

  • Beating the Blues, where we provide inbound and outbound support to patients using cognitive behavioural therapy online.

  • Caravan, the grocery trade charity, where we provide a phone, email and chat service for small business owners and supermarket staff;

  • National Association of Head Teachers, delivering a support and advice service to head teachers in schools across the UK;

  • National Council for Voluntary Organisations, delivering a multi-channel helpdesk giving advice to members (charities, voluntary organisations, etc.);

  • Teacher Support Network, delivering a multi-channel information, advice, coaching and counselling service that reaches large numbers of teachers each year;

  • Turn2us helpline which helps people access the money available to them – through welfare benefits, grants and other help.

At Connect Assist we are at our best when working in partnership with our customers who are charities, social enterprises, public bodies, trade unions and others organisations working to transform people’s lives. Our approach is to blend the best of technology with high quality contact centre solutions with a focus on getting the right advice, support or services to people when, where and how they need them.

D.Case studies

D.1Health for Work Adviceline (Public Sector)

A recent example of our approach is the work we undertook for the NHS Plus 'Health for Work Adviceline'. This is a Department of Work and Pensions funded service that had a requirement to both cut costs and develop a sustainable funding model. We worked with NHS Plus over a period of time to help them design a new and innovative approach that launched in 2011, and which is now delivering a less expensive and more flexible service.

Figure 1. Shows how we have achieved efficiencies and increased reach by using multi-channel methodology to create a tiered service

Figure 2. Shows how we have increased digital service delivery


Another example would be collaborations with A4e. A4e delivers frontline public services operating from over 201 locations globally. A4e now operates in the EU, Middle East, Africa, India and Australasia. Their customers / service users are individuals, organisations and communities.

Central to their work is the personalisation of front line public services. This means providing customers with a voice and choice over the way in which they interact, use and benefit from their services by improving communication so that customers can access the service at a time and place that integrates with their lives.

The current recession is presenting a new group of people seeking jobs, many of them for the first time. Many of these people are used to using the Internet to work and manage their personal lives. Connect Assist supports A4e by providing an interactive online job seeking and support service whereby clients using My A4e Connect have access to a comprehensive library of useful factsheets, answers and videos, to help them in their job search campaign. We also developed their first online outplacement tool which is now used across their outplacement business.

D.3University and College Union

An example of our work using RightNow technology to improve service delivery is with University and College Union (UCU). UCU is the largest trade union and professional association for academics, lecturers, trainers, researchers and academic-related staff working in further and higher education throughout the UK.

UCU had particular needs to implement a client management system in order to manage their work in supporting members in casework. In order to deal with member cases effectively case work needed to share securely & confidentially in other UK geographical areas.

The solution was to create a system which was to be linked via a hosted, web-based secure system, giving instant access to members' cases and ensuring casework was dealt with efficiently.

Connect Assist successfully implemented the business engagement solution as the management system for UCU's casework services. The system was installed in all of the 13 Regional Offices, plus the London Head Office so regional and national officials could manage enquiries and cases within the system.

We worked with UCU to configure the system to meet their precise needs, including all data fields, workspaces, and web forms for remote access, reports, documents and standard documents. In addition we have developed the system to provide a knowledge base for officials and staff, involving uploading UCU generated content into the knowledge base.

D.4National Council for Voluntary Organisations

A further example is our work with the National Council for voluntary Organisations (NVCO) Connect Assist provides the multi-channel Member Helpdesk on behalf of the NCVO delivering information, advice and guidance to NCVO's Voluntary sector members.

Using Connect Assist's smart e-service technology to provide an integrated multi-channel interface for service users, all case managed through the same database hub to avoid duplication of systems, improve data security and give 360 degree reporting for the service as a whole no matter what channel contact originates from.

Before, the telephone and e-mail helpdesk was only available from Monday to Friday between 11am and 2pm with the majority of enquiries being forwarded to NCVO staff members to provide answers. There were no digital channels being used or self-service tools resulting in around 4750 enquiries being handled each year. Below in Figure 3 and Figure 4 you can see how we have improved the service user experience for NVCO. Connect Assist has doubled the opening hours of the service, quadrupled usage volumes and reduced the cost of providing this service by 70%.

Figure 3. Showing how we have driven down costs whilst increasing service delivery.

Figure 4. Showing the shift in service delivery for NCVO

D.5Renovo Workfriend

Connect Assist has taken a similar approach to the solution we have deployed for welfare to work provider Renovo for their Workfriend product. Again the solution combines telephone, online information, Email / 'Ask a Question', Live Chat and mobile but also uses our technology platform's secure Facebook plug-in to provide self-service information through the support tab on the Workfriend Facebook page.

E.Quality assurance

Connect Assist is committed to achieving the highest possible quality of services and we are committed to continuous improvement in all our services. This includes development of quality standards, staff development, upgrading of technology systems and developing new channels for client engagement with services.

We have a number of quality assurance measures, standards and regular evaluations that require continuous improvement for annual re-accreditation, including:

  • We hold ISO 9001 accreditation for the organisation as a whole;

  • Our largest helplines are externally audited, which ensures that we are continually improving our standards of service delivery to clients;

  • We hold ISO 27001 accreditation which is audited annually. This ensures high standards of data security, both in the systems and software we deploy as well as our operational practices;

  • We hold Investors in People (Bronze) for the organisation as a whole;

  • We are members of The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy and adhere to their strict standards of confidentiality. Two senior members of our team have successfully completed the Certified Employee Assistance Professional (CEAP) credential;

  • We are members of the Telephone Helpline Association and our largest volume service has the THA quality standard accreditation;

  • We are also members of the Mental Health Helpline partnership and through them we are offering call adviser staff the City & Guilds Mental Health Helpline Workers Certificate. Through our efforts this provision, which to date has served only England, is being extended into Wales;

  • Our customer relationship management (CRM) platform is Data Protection Act 1998 and PCI compliant for managing the risk of data storage, particularly sensitive personal information. We are the UK’s leading reseller and development partner for RightNow Technologies;

  • As a business we hold a Welsh Assembly Government Award for positive staff health management in an SME;

  • We are signatories of the Mindful Employer scheme;

  • We have Level 4 accreditation under the Welsh Assembly Government Green Dragon environmental management scheme;


The recent recession presented a new group of people seeking jobs, many of them for the first time. Many of these people are used to using the Internet to work and manage their personal lives. Connect Assist helped A4e by providing an interactive online job seeking and support service

“The team at Connect Assist impressed us with their understanding of our organisation.  This coupled with their innovative solutions and ability to harness the latest technology made them an obvious choice when we decided to review our service requirements”

Sir Stuart Etherington, Chief Executive, National Council for Voluntary Organisations
MDF the Bipolar Organisation received more calls in one week than in an entire year following an East Enders story line and publication of their details by the BBC. Connect Assist’s 24/7 helpline fully coped with this demand.

MDF – The Bipolar Organisation

“I would certainly recommend using Connect Assist consultancy services. Patrick is an expert facilitator. He quickly identified our organisation's needs and was focused on ensuring our aims for the day were met. An engaging speaker, he connected with staff and trustees of all ages and backgrounds and his skilful management of the day’s activities steered discussions, enabled everyone to participate and work together as a team and kept us on track”.

Diane Leicester, CEO, Pharmacist Support

1 Gartner 2011

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