Best practice around marketing Contact&Connect automated telephony services

Contact&Connect is our Adult Social Care (ASC) focused automated telephony platform, which was initially co-designed with Sunderland, Gateshead & Kirklees councils. Every week hundreds of calls go out from the platform on behalf of ASC teams across the country, checking in with people in receipt of care around how they are coping, if they are managing their health, hygiene, food, and mobility – as well as driving the return of community loan equipment.

The main ASC services focus on older people and people who the council often spends a lot of time engaging with so they don’t fall victim to scammers and scam calls. However, councils are now keen to use automated calls to check in with people themselves, to support resource prioritisation and responses – as such being able to differentiate calls is critical, so as not to undo their scam awareness work.

There are numerous technical and scripting elements we build into the Contact&Connect services to personalise the calls and make it clear to people that they are genuinely delivered by their council. However, marketing automated telephony services to service users is also crucial, to support awareness and drive engagement with the calls, both at the start and on an ongoing basis.

Configuration of the Contact&Connect calls is very detailed, and as such partners are able to include a high level of information in marketing assets, to give the service user all they need to know to be confident that the call is genuine. We are able to confirm what number the call will come from (and it’s always a local STD code), what time and what day the call will come through, whether the voice will be male or female, even down to the exact wording of the questions that will be asked.

Marketing approaches to date have differed based on what Contact&Connect service is being deployed. In Contact&Connect: Community Loan Equipment they have included everything from:

  • Including reference to the calls in equipment loan agreements
  • Letters being sent out to all customers before the calls start explaining the service and when to expect the calls
  • Raising awareness of the calls with prescribers & OTs, so they can discuss and remind people of the calls and answer any questions
  • Fridge magnets, mugs, and stickers for the phone reminding people the calls will be coming through
  • And – possibly most effectively – equipment delivery drivers giving people flyers about the calls, and even playing a demo call to the service user so they know what to expect

For Contact&Connect: Reablement:

  • Leaflets being left with people as they come to the end of their reablement package explaining the automated telephony services (see an example from Gateshead Council below) 
  • Carers playing the demo call to people in receipt of care so they know what to expect
  • Leaflets included in hospital discharge packs
  • Work with practitioners and families in terms of awareness around the calls 

It’s this level of detail that allows people to be confident that the call coming through is genuine, that they should engage, and that their answers will be ‘heard’. What is also useful is that within the data Contact&Connect captures, we are able to identify those people who are answering the call, but not responding to the questions – who may need additional assurance; People who don’t answer the calls but whose number is valid – who may need further marketing/encouragement to engage; and those people whose numbers are incorrect, invalid or disconnected.

More generally there are activities that can help inform people of the calls, how and why they are generated, all of which increases engagement and responses to the calls:

  • Having telephone number from which the call comes from on website in case someone Googles it
  • Promoting the service on social media on a regular basis
  • Press promotion of the approach
  • Inclusion of the initiative in the council newsletter (print and online)
  • Reference to the service on the ASC pages of your website