Good communication is critical for successful organizations, whether it is a small business, non-profit or church. Clients and customers need to be communicated with and providing them with the information that they need, when they need it, is a key principle in good customer relations. Establishing a phone tree can help keep in touch with customers.
Managing a church office can be very challenging because of the limited resources available to run the day-to-day operation as well as the fact that a lot of church support is provided through volunteer labor. Volunteers help churches fulfill their mission by supplementing paid labor but even with this supplement, there are times when the need for technology help arises.
If you are like me you dread the election season because of all of the automated phone calls that we get from candidates. They are done because research suggests that making contact with the public helps a political campaign. Now imagine a scenario when these kinds of automated phone calls can help your church fulfill is mission by providing a communication tool for congregants.
I worked for a large church and there were times when we needed to communicate information to the congregation, church volunteers or a specific group of church members. Becasue the church was so large making hundreds and sometimes thousands of scripted phone calls was merely impossible. We were excited when we discovered this phone tree software that provided an automated process to help us make those phone calls to our church members and volunteers.
What is a phone tree? Phone tree is a an automated phone system that makes calls for you by either a prerecorded message or from a text message. It is customizable in that you can prerecord the message and select the people you want the call to go to and has the capability to make 1000 calls per hour!
PhoneTree is a fullfeatured customizable telephone messageing solution which has the following features:
- Automated outbound dialing and messaging capabilities.
- High quality text to speech (no need to record) or voice recorded messages.
- Touch-tone response capabilities captures customer responses.
- Supports multiple and simultaneous campaigns.
- Provides email and text message reminders.
PhoneTree can be integrated into your current database and can import calling lists from many databases for many types of applications. There are also script building tools for creating outbound messages.
Look at the following graphic and see how easy it is to set up and how you can use text to speech technology for creating your customizable message.
This graphic shows how the information is pulled from the database and turned into a recorded message. Pretty amazing what technology can do!
The reporting feature provides information on the calls by letting you know the status of the calls, the date and time they went out, the number of replies received and the number of retries to a phone number.
The reporting feature can provide reports in multiple formats such as PDF, HTML, Excel, Word and CVS files. Content can be filtered by status and can be printed, emailed or exported to a format file.
The great thing about this tool is that it is expandable so you can start small and have the program expand as your church community grows.
Examples uses of PhoneTree:
- Visitor followup.
- Reminder of upcoming events.
- Volunteer recruitment.
- Stewardship campaigns.
- Community outreach.
- Prayer chain requests.
- Church committee meeting reminders.
- Church volunteer schedule reminders.
- Informing church members of a guest speaker.
- Informing church members of a church member’s funeral.
- Reminding youth of a big youth event.
- Reminding parents of children’s ministry of kids event.
- Cancel Sunday service for a snow emergency.
- Closing church office due to inclement weather.
- Remind church members to watch church choir on TV at local event.
- The list goes on and on…….
There are three different packages you can choose from depending on the size of your church and the number of phone calls you need to make. When we first invested in phonetree we started small and grew our capabilities. This did two things, it helped us save on the upfront investment and allowed us time to use the system and figure out internal controls before we went with the full-blown version.
Other things to consider:
- Identify an expert user who can manage the database and facilitate the message process. This is important because it greatly reduces user error which can be a blackeye for your ministry. Imagine sending a phonetree message about a mens meeting to all of the women in the church….Quality control and quality checks are really, really important!
- Develop a policy for when an automated call is and isn’t appropriate. You don’t want to be that organization that is constantly sending annoying recorded phone call messages when there may be a better way to communicate.
- Identify a culturally acceptable voice for any voice recordings. Two different people can read the same script but come off sounding very differently. Invest the time to find the right voice to represent your church.
- Measure results by constantly soliciting feedback from your key customer groups.
Technology is a wonderful thing and if used appropriately, with structured systems and processes, it can be one of the many tools used to create a positive church experience for members and volunteers.