Running a Hotline is More than Answering the Phone: You’re Done with the Call, Now What?

By Christopher Jackson, Communications Coordinator, Elder Law of Michigan, and Project Administrator, Center for Elder Rights Advocacy

Thumbs upDuring the second session of the Preconference, I had the wonderful opportunity to work with Cat McConnell, West Virginia Senior Legal Hotline, to discuss with attendees what should be done after completing a hotline call. There are many data points that can be useful to gather following hotline calls, including: outcome data, client satisfaction, and indicators of impact. Below are some of the points covered in our presentation and discussion with attendees.

Outcome Measures

In 2015, Legal Hotlines in Michigan, Florida, and Ohio began testing an outcome measures component in their case management system to collect the outcome of cases handled by the hotlines; more about the outcome measures project can be found here. Much discussion occurred with participants on this topic, especially about when outcomes can be best recorded, whether all seniors can effectively determine what the outcome of a case was, and can all case types have effective measurement of their outcome. Many participates stated that they were interested in testing outcome measures on their hotlines in the future to both determine the effectiveness of their services as well as provide valuable data to their funders.

Satisfaction Surveys

Satisfaction surveys were also discussed at length during this session. Many hotlines provide satisfaction surveys to their clients immediately or sometime during the month following their contact with the hotline. The detail requested by each hotline as part of the survey varies in complexity, some hotlines ask just a few questions, while others are more in depth in asking for feedback; examples of these surveys can be found on our website. Importantly, the tools used to gather this information also varied dramatically amongst the hotlines including through direct attorney/staff conversation, mailings, internet survey tools, and via email; one hotline even utilizes text messaging to gather client feedback. Gathering this feedback is important because many hotlines use the feedback in important ways: streamlining operational processes, providing training opportunities for advocates and staff, and providing feedback and data to funders.

Overall, as we live and work in an increasingly data-driven world, it has never been more important for hotlines to gather data on the services they provide. This data is increasingly used by funders and staff to determine the need for hotline services, as well as the areas, both subject matter and geographic, they serve. Ultimately, hotlines will need to engage this data-driven culture to demonstrate just how many important services they provide to their communities.

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