This is a guest post from a former crisis coordinator at a rape crisis center. Any views or opinions reflected are the views of the author alone.
Survivors should not be on hold for long
Many agencies do their best to make sure that survivors reaching out don’t have to wait a long time before talking with an advocate, as delays can be discouraging at best, and life-threatening at worst. Agencies may also be concerned about grant mandated limits on hold times.
Answering services often leave survivors on hold
In my experience, answering services often leave survivors on hold. Answering services serve many different organizations at once, and prioritize those organizations’ calls according to their own systems – which may not be equipped for triaging crisis calls. Operators may not answer calls from a victim or survivor right away, or they may not send the call to a staff or volunteer advocate right away.
I have worked with an answering service that delayed passing a caller’s information to an advocate for hours, due to the calls being buried in the triage process the answering service followed. One time, I happened to see in the portal that there was a new call, and would not have gotten the caller’s information if I hadn’t called in to ask for it. What do you think happens if a survivor experiences this the first time they call your hotline?
Human error can cause delays
Agencies usually provide the answering service with a schedule of who to call, but often answering service operators call advocates out of the order provided. One agency has shared that an answering service only called one advocate, whether or not she was on shift, for every call. Answering service operators may get flustered at a crisis call and forget how to find the schedule, or give up after trying the first person on the list.
These delays impact survivors
With issues like these, survivors will not receive timely services, or even not receive services at all. It can be so difficult as a crisis coordinator to know that there may be survivors reaching out and getting no services, because you may be unable to fix these issues permanently on your own.
You can reduce wait times for your agency
If you would like to talk with someone about some permanent ways to fix wait times – as well as other options for sophisticated call routing, scheduling, burnout prevention, and more – please schedule a free consultation meeting. Fixing things like this helps you support more survivors. Fixing these issues can help you support more survivors, and make sure no survivor calls are lost.