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Phone service - Outgoing calls dispatch service

Posted Wed, 02/27/2013 - 00:00 by Scott Robinson

The February 2013 release of VolunteerRescue includes a new phone service.  This service can be used for both outgoing calls (e.g. to dispatch members for a task) and for incoming calls (e.g. to provide an information line).

The outgoing calls service will mainly be used for dispatching members at the start of a task, i.e. when your group receives a request for a response and you need to contact your members to inform them their help is requested and to see if they can actually attend.

With VolunteerRescue you can now call out your members using all the contact information stored in your groups VolunteerRescue service therefore for those groups that already use an alternative automated call out system switching to VolunteerRescue means no need to maintain a separate login, use another web interface, export/import member phone numbers etc...

Starting a call out
using the app

Smartphone start call out

App progress page

Smartphone progress page

A call out can be initiated in the following ways

  1. Using your groups standard VolunteerRescue web service.
  2. From the VolunteerRescue smartphone app.
  3. By calling a phone number dedicated to your group and following a set of phone based prompts.

The first advantage is that each member maintains their own contact information, this includes whether they would like to receive a text messag, their phone numbers and the order of priority in which the service should call their phone numbers.

The second advantage is that members can be called out by group and this is achieved using the roles which in the main will already be the same as the roles used throughout the rest of VolunteerRescue.

The third advantage is that once a call out has been started VolunteerRescue will show a progress screen showing the progress of each call.

The fourth advantage is that the members can send a reply back indicating whether they are able to respond to the task or not and this response is displayed on the progress screen.

For members that opt to receive a call out by text message an SMS text message will be sent to the member.  The member then has an amount of time, typically 5 mins, to send a reply indicating their intent. If no reply is received during this period the service will start dialing the members' phone in the order the member has defined, if the member answers a call they will be played a list of options from which they can select to indicate their intent.

The progress screen can show the member responses by certification or by role and the progress page automatically updates every 30 seconds for up to an hour after the call out was initiated.  The VolunteerRescue app also shows the progress of the call out so you can keep up to date with who is responding and who is not without requiring access to a computer screen and the main VolunteerRescue service.

Web progress page

Web site progress page showing responses by certification

Members can send a text message at any time and can send more than one text in the event they need to update their intent or where an error was made.  Members can also indictate their intent and send a reply message using the VolunteerRescue app from their smartphone.

Web site progress with text

Web site progress page showing text reply

As well as being used to dispatch members for a task the outgoing service can also be used for the following

  • Sending a general text message to members or contacts with no reply required
  • Playing a general message to members or contacts with no reply required
  • Connecting all callees that answer the call to a conference call for debrief, board meeting etc...

See the features page for a detailed list of all the features provided by both the outgoing calls and the incoming calls phone service.