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Communicating Through Call Centers for Development Programs

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Communicating through Call Centers for development programs

The main purpose of calling is to gain beneficiary's attention, keep her/him informed about program’s goals and to persuade her/him to take the required action. This task can be very difficult and challenging. This guide is aimed to help you with useful tips.

Why use a Call Center?

Using call centers for Social Protection Programs can help us managing different scenarios. A Call Center is a bilateral communication channel and a valuable source of feedback from our stakeholders.

Using call centers effectively can help us in communication strategy pre-test phases as well as in having a support channel for stakeholders concerns during the programme.

Three typical scenarios for using a Call Center can be:

  • To inform stakeholers of programme goals and benefits.
  • To persuade stakeholders by encouraging them to take an action.
  • To respond stakeholders doubts or inquiries during the programme.

Establishing a Call Center is an alternative to more expensive channels and, if well monitored and tracked, is a highly valuable source of information to help us improve our communication strategy.

What’s the difference between a commercial oriented and a social protection oriented Call Center?

Although profit and non-profit call centers share general procedures and technics, the main goals of these two systems is very different

  • Social Protection Call Centers are beneficiary-centric centers.
  • The aim is to cover beneficiary’s needs instead of generate new ones.
  • Beneficiary’s feedback is crucial to achieve objectives.
  • The staff understand beneficiary’s insights and both demographic and cultural aspects

Set up a call center in 10 steps.

  1. Define clearly the call center’s objectives, the key performance indicators which will show your progress, your call center’s needs, your target public needs, the benefits for them and the benefits for you.


  1. Develop a call center plan based on your general communication strategy main keys by adapting messages, developing possible questions and answers, monitoring and evaluation processes, and designing a case management procedures to cover all possible issues during a call.

  1. Prepare call lists (CSV or Excel you can easily import from a call center software) and a procedure guidelines on how to write notes during calls, create leads for missed calls and workflow organization among different agents.

  1. Make certain your chosen location has low background noise levels, good Internet and landline connections, and a cloud based software to manage the whole process.
  1. Hire the proper staff. Ideally social workers or community members culturally involved with the beneficiaries. Understanding beneficiaries ‘needs is a must. Even if your procedure guideline has prepared answers to all possible scenarios, required staff skills should include excellent conversation capacity and decision-making abilities.
  1. Train accurately the team by using both theoretical and practical practices and incorporate their inputs to the call center plan.
  1. Design a daily schedule which covers a start meeting to communicate the day objectives and a final meeting to get feedback from the day learned lessons.
  1. Track the best questions and answers, best hours, most impact calls and make daily adjustments to your plan to improve your average success ratio.
  1. Ensure that your call center is well known by your stakeholders and think in cross media strategies to promote it in your other communication channels.
  1. Periodically take into count your target public feedback by developing surveys or interviews in order to improve your Call Center procedures.
  1. Developing the Call Center Plan
  1. Develop a schedule which points the best times to call taking into account your general communication strategy and thinking in local events (best days, meal breaks, school timetables, local social events and celebrations)
  1. Design a beneficiary profile with both demographic and socio-cultural data. Put a face and detailed information on the most concurrent profiles in order tio better understand your public.
  1. Write a 3 columns scheme:

Column 1: Benefits of the programme

Column 2: Needs of the beneficiary

Column 3: How the benefits of the programme can cover beneficiary’s needs.

  1. Build a consistent speech. Use simple language, sentences and expressions. Develop a speech that contains your keywords and adjust them during the process as you are getting feedback from the beneficiaries.

  1. Ensure that your “metrics that matter” are aligned with the beneficiary call cycle and key touch points.

Determine staff tasks, call

  1. Preparing a call script

  1. Introduce yourself, the program purpose and the institutions involved.
  2. Describe clearly why are you calling.
  1. Provide only the necessary information.
  2. Make a clear understandable call to action.
  3. Be sure that the beneficiary has understood the questions you made.
  4. Summarize agreed-to actions by both parties.
  5. Get a commitment.
  1. Developing a call
  • Smile while talking.

They can’t see your smile but they can “hear your mood”.

  • Not make a request to speak with somebody

Instead change the request to a statement or a command.

  • Ensure that you use a steady pace. (170 words per minute)

Stay calm and make appropriate breaks while talking



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