Perfect Strangers is delivering prescriptions, groceries, and other supplies to the most vulnerable, homebound individuals, at their doorsteps in this new era of social distancing. This vital mission is gaining a ton of support nationwide, which has led founder Mimi Aboubaker to expand operations to cities across the country. They’ve recently started making deliveries in Boston, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and the Greater San Francisco-Bay Area, with plans of reaching even more communities.
Aboubaker explains how scaling a unique operation like this requires a different approach than most tech-focused organizations.
“A lot of people assume the next step means we need to build a mobile app, but we realized that a large percentage of the people we're working with are older, and they generally prefer calling us to make orders.“
Perfect Strangers lets users place orders on their website as well as by phone, but the founders believe the value of voice extends beyond ease of use.
“The level of isolation being experienced right now means that people are more likely to choose the human connection you get by talking to a real person. It’s been really helpful to a lot of people, which made us realize we immediately needed to get a call center operation up and running to manage more phone orders.“
Organizing high call volume
With incoming calls related to new orders, customer support and general press skyrocketing, Perfect Strangers found it difficult to effectively gain insight into exactly why clients were calling, putting added pressure on telephone operators.
“You never knew what people were calling about until you picked up the call. There wasn't a great way to route calls to other people.”
As more calls crowded a single phone line, Aboubaker realized the organization needed a phone solution that would be able to handle their increasing call volume and implement a way to triage callbacks and support.
“We needed something that was much more dynamic, given the fact that we were stepping into a much larger market.”
Implementing an effective solution
Perfect Strangers operates an entirely on-demand service through a network of volunteers. Given these constraints, workloads can be unpredictable. The organization realized its need to efficiently staff operators and create a callback process for missed calls.
“The team sat there with us and helped us map out the whole IVR. It was during a very introductory call and the Aircall representative was just so helpful. The level of service went above and beyond. Aircall’s willingness to go the extra mile and make the connectivity and enthusiasm for our work was what really sold us.”
Customization & Mobility
Before Perfect Strangers had a phone solution, volunteers would get calls on their mobile devices with no way to distinguish between personal and organization-related calls.
Using the Aircall mobile app, volunteers can set their own availability with status options of “available” or “do not disturb” and since calls are coming in through the app, they know immediately what kind of call they’re receiving.
“Being able to set your own availability is huge. One of the major draws for our organization is that volunteers have the flexibility to determine their scheduling and be active in their roles when able. It allows us, as a leadership team, to figure out the best routing based on the volunteers’ feedback.”
Perfect Strangers has found the Aircall mobile app particularly useful for volunteers who are usually in the field, and also appreciates the additional level of customization they can get on each order from call commenting.
“Being able to take notes during a call is great from an ordering standpoint, just to have that readily available for everyone as we look through why people have called is so helpful.”
Next steps of expansion
Perfect Strangers is looking ahead to see how Aircall can enable future growth. Aircall’s tagging feature has been especially helpful with planning and forecasting:
“Tagging calls helps optimize the organization of relevant information, making our jobs easier. Being able to understand why people are calling in, parse that data out, and use some of that for future expansion and more efficient operations is absolutely what it's built for.”
Already, because of the data they’ve collected, Perfect Strangers plans to recruit more volunteers who speak multiple languages, such as Spanish, Hmong, and Thai.
“As we think about scaling, working with Aircall is going to give us a level of intelligence and information that will help us improve our operations.By optimizing all of the various tools offered to route, tag and organize calls, we are able to efficiently see the larger customers trends and build out our offerings in response. Through this data gathering, we are able to build a more effective organization.
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