In-person phone banks offer plenty of positives. The sense of community and the motivation to make calls is high when every volunteer is working closely together towards a common goal.
But they do have their challenges, including the cost to organize a phone bank, and a limited pool of volunteers.
How does distributed phone banking help?
Even if you find that it’s easy to organize volunteers and have them show up at a central location, it’s still worth adopting distributed phone banking in addition to traditional phone banking. Here’s why.
Reduce your costs. On location call centers require that you purchase and manage the equipment needed to host your volunteers locally, as well as upgrade and maintain them. Through distributed phone banking, you offset these costs.
Access a wider volunteer base. Since you aren’t limited geographically, you have more options when it comes to recruiting interested volunteers for your calling campaigns.
You can recruit out-of-state volunteers for calling communities where they don’t have enough people on the ground.
By setting up distributed phone banking campaigns, you can still reach the people who need to hear your message. As long as they have a reliable internet connection, agents and volunteers can make calls from the comfort of their own homes.
With all the advantages that distributed phone banking offers, there are still issues that may come up by virtue of managing a distributed team.
Let’s take a look at the most important things to take note of when it comes to distributed phone banking.
Recruiting phone banking volunteers
The prospect of recruiting volunteers who you might never meet in person might seem difficult. You need to verify if you’re bringing the right people into the campaign without having a face-to-face interaction.
By having an onboarding process for volunteers when recruiting online, you can make sure you are getting quality volunteers.
As an example, once they sign up to volunteer on your website, ask them to:
- Watch any training videos or read any guides you have
- Answer a quick quiz to make sure they are ready
- Join a Slack channel to coordinate with staff
Take the example of web forms. By filling in a form on your site, you can automatically add volunteers to your list of calling agents. Here’s how:
- Embed a sign-up form on your web page.
- Interested volunteers sign up on the form. Volunteers are added as agents to your CallHub account.
- Volunteers registering on the form can immediately start making phone calls.
CallHub has a custom form that you can embed on your web page. But you can also create your own form and use our Agent APIs to create agents in your account when a person submits that form.
If you’re texting supporters, asking them to volunteer, send an automated follow-up text based on survey response. That text can have the signup link and link to a training video.
Managing agents in different time zones
Make the most out of calling staff in different regions. If you’re organizing a worldwide, or even a nationwide campaign, assigning local volunteers to contacts that are in the same region as them can be more effective.
Having locals speak to others in their community is a sure-shot way of amplifying engagement from your contacts. And the CallHub Teams feature makes that a lot easier. Campaign managers can create separate teams for agents based on geography, language or ethnicity.
If manually adding volunteers to separate teams is a hassle, you can directly allow volunteers to choose a team when they register on your web form.
Training agents on the calling tool
Since you won’t be in the room with your calling agents, it’s important that it’s as easy as possible for them to adopt the tools you’re using and get acquainted with your scripts.
You can make the learning curve easy for them by providing training videos and articles and FAQs to help them get up to speed.
Take the example of the Democrats Abroad, who created a short training video for agents that were new to the CallHub platform. They also provided a slide deck, and a document with do’s and don’ts when using the tool.
Having someone in charge of local callers
As you scale up with distributed volunteers in local areas, the need to have a clear line of communication becomes more obvious.
For people volunteering remotely, it’s not always apparent to them who to talk to when they face trouble. Let volunteers know that there is someone who they can reach out to whenever they encounter difficulties when making calls.
You can do that by assigning local leaders to take care of managing agents and calling lists pertaining to that location. Have these managers be available to volunteers across various channels, be it through call, social media or a slack channel.
If volunteers have questions, they should be confident that shooting a message on a Slack channel can get them the answers they need.
Ensuring calling productivity for your campaign
Help your agents stay efficient even when you can’t monitor them physically
Depending on your campaign, you can choose between different dialers to increase efficiency. Choose a dialer that automatically starts volunteers on the next call once they are done with a previous one. That will help get volunteers into the rhythm of making calls.
In addition, add a script when you set up your calling campaign. That way agents have less cognitive load when it comes to speaking to contacts, and can refer to the script on screen when they get stuck.
You can even personalize your scripts for further agent convenience.
Making multiple calls on end can however take a mental toll on volunteers, especially if they have no-one to interact with in between calls.
Consider using a leaderboard to keep track of the calls that volunteers are making. If it’s for a good cause, your volunteers will be even more motivated to reach for the top spot on the board.
Consider giving recognition to agents that are doing especially well. With CallHub’s analytics plugin, you can compare agents based on:
- Number of calls they’ve made
- The total connect time
- The total talk time
Collecting data from calls
Data flow from calling campaigns to your database is important especially when dealing with volunteers in different locations.
Make sure all the data collected by distributed volunteers flow back into a central database as fast as possible for targeted follow-ups and quick decision-making.
Do that by having your calling agents collect data during their conversations with the help of Callhub’s survey forms. As agents fill in these forms in their interface based on the answers they receive from the contacts, they can be synced back to your CRM for future reference.
Your campaign can also take advantage of custom fields and tag to further
CallHub integrates with most major CRMs, check out our integrations page here.
Making calling accessible to volunteers
Not all volunteers may have the same tools at their disposal when it comes to making calls. With distributed calling, the most prominent problem is volunteers having connection issues.
Make it easier for volunteers by allowing them options when it comes to how they make calls for your campaign.
In CallHub, you can do that simply by changing a setting on the manager side.
With the dial-in option, agents can join a calling campaign by calling a number and entering a campaign code. This option is helpful for volunteers with unreliable connections.
Appealing to regional contacts
Contacts can be apprehensive about picking up calls from out of state numbers. Having volunteers from different states use local numbers can make it easier to have positive conversations.
A Dynamic Caller ID solves the problem by assigning a caller ID that matches the location of your contact. That means a volunteer in Ohio can make consecutive calls to contacts in Florida, Tennessee or Montana, and have each of them see a different caller ID matching their state.
If you already have volunteers on hand with working internet connections and a list of contacts you want to reach, running a distributed phone bank is as easy as setting up an account, adding your agents, importing your list and setting up a campaign.
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