ChallengeThe Trevor Project needed a contact centre platform that would integrate seamlessly with its newly deployed Salesforce implementation. In March 2020, because of COVID-19, the TrevorLifeline needed, for the first time, to enable remote-capabilities for their crisis counsellors.
SolutionVonage Contact Center and Salesforce Integration
ResultsWhen the Trevor Project deployed Vonage Contact Center in 2018, their uptime increased by nearly 100% and counselors could take 26% more calls from the previous year. In 2020, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they successfully transitioned to a fully remote counsellor staff for the first time in its history.
The Trevor Project — the world's largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning (LGBTQ) young people — had come to greatly depend on Vonage Contact Center since deploying it to integrate with its Salesforce implementation in 2018. When COVID-19 hit the US, the need grew bigger than ever; at times, the number of young people getting in touch with The Trevor Project crisis services programmes more than doubled.
Decentralising a contact centre in record time during COVID-19
Unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures. With the impact of the Covid-19 virus quickly escalating, The Trevor Project had to find a way to decentralise its call centres.
Until March 2020, crisis counsellors for the TrevorLifeline, The Trevor Project’s 24/7/365 crisis support line, had always worked from one of two call centres - one on the east coast and the other on the west coast. But as organisations prepared to shelter in place at home and use physical distancing to help stop the spread of the pandemic, working from the physical call center locations was no longer possible. Yet The Trevor Project needed to keep its vital TrevorLifeline operational, no matter what.
When a call can save a life
Access to 24/7 counselling by LGBTQ youth is essential. According to reports published in 2018 by the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide is the second leading cause of death among young people, and LGBTQ youth are more than four times more likely to seriously consider suicide, make a plan for suicide and attempt suicide than their peers. More than 1.8 million LGBTQ youth between the ages of 13 and 24 in the US seriously consider suicide each year.
"We needed to quickly figure out how to go remote and we knew we didn’t have a lot of time,” said Danielle Ehsanipour, Director of Lifeline at The Trevor Project. “In the past 22 years, the Lifeline had never been remote. Moving to remote operations had implications for security and data protection that we had to address, and in some cases meant we needed to build new protocols from scratch."
Quality and security were critical aspects of the move. The call centres had low-latency fibre-optic internet connections and the TrevorLifeline used professionally maintained computers and high-quality headsets. John Callery, The Trevor Project’s Vice President of Technology remembers thinking, “How are we going to replicate our professional call centres in the homes of our many crisis counsellors across the country?”
After turning to Vonage for advice on how to make the move to remote operations, the TrevorLifeline was able to make the transition in only a matter of days. “I don't think that we had realised how very flexible the Vonage platform was,” said Callery. “It was a matter of simply installing a WebRTC extension on our staff’s Chrome browsers and shipping out professional headsets for them to use. With that, we were pretty much up and running.”
Callery also remarked on the strength and resilience of Vonage’s technology and support. “Vonage provided us with the tools necessary to make the transition in a best-in-class way. “
Pre-pandemic normal at The Trevor Project
The TrevorLifeline typically has close to 300 volunteer crisis counsellors between its two call centres. The counsellors are required to go through over 40 hours of training before they can take calls on the Lifeline. However, no matter how well experienced the staff, if the technology needed to support the counsellors was lacking, then the communication with callers would suffer.
Before implementing Vonage Contact Center with Salesforce integration, The Trevor Project used a number of different applications to enable its digital services. For the TrevorLifeline, in particular, the separate applications were not easily integrated. Crisis counsellors had to be located at six stations connected to hard phone lines and the phone system did not integrate with the organisation’s CRM. There were many limitations in terms of how and where the counsellors were able to take calls.
"As an organisation with the mission of ending suicide among LGBTQ young people, our biggest pain point was scalability,” said Ehsanipour. “We realised that our technology as well as our staffing resources really needed to be upgraded and innovated in order to be able to meet the critical demand of the young people.
“Since moving to Salesforce and deploying the integration with Vonage Contact Center, our counsellors have been able to spend their time focusing on the conversations with the young people and their experience has been greatly streamlined.”
With the Vonage/Salesforce implementation, The Trevor Project was able to move away from technology that distracted their counselors when they were talking to callers. “The technology should never be a priority or something that takes away from the conversation with a young person,” said Ehsanipour. “This move to Vonage with Salesforce implementation, has allowed us to empower and enable counsellors to work with ease; to prioritise and be present with the youth.”
Vonage Contact Center reliability is key to lifeline
Since The Trevor Project started using Vonage Contact Center with Salesforce integration, they have experienced close to 100 percent uptime. That knowledge gives them the necessary confidence that they can reliably take calls and that counsellors will be available, ready and supported when they answer a call. According to Ehsanipour, “In the first year since moving to our integration of Vonage and Salesforce, we were able to take over 61,000 calls, which is a 26 percent increase in volume from in the previous year. That was really incredible to us.”
Ehsanipour says that the uptime and reliability that Vonage and Salesforce offers have positively changed the way that the TrevorLifeline is able to support its callers. “We were able to integrate all of the different tools that counsellors need to use.” Now, when Lifeline counsellors want to find a local resource to help support a young person looking for LGBTQ youth services in their area, they don’t have to navigate away from the CRM and their phone system to look up the resources that are available in local regions.
“Through the Vonage/Salesforce implementation, our counsellors are able to continue their conversation, monitor the length of their conversation, be able to see and share information about the interaction that they're having, while at the same time accessing relevant local resources all in one platform. It’s really revolutionised the way that our counsellors are able to focus on the conversation that they're having.”
Ehsanipour explains that Vonage has been at the ready to help with any kind of problem or question or potential curiosity about performance level. “The Vonage Contact Center team has been super responsive and I feel that Vonage has really been a partner in understanding why it's so important for us to have perfect uptime,” said Ehsanipour.
“As a 24/7 suicide prevention line, the stakes are really high. And I've always felt that the people who support us at Vonage, really get that and are able to make sure that we, in turn, can support the young person contacting us."