Earlier this week Emily outlined the keys to successfully implementing a new whistleblower hotline (including focusing on employee engagement, how the hotline integrates with your case management system and the types of reporting you can get). But what if you’re still vetting hotline solutions?
Understanding the customer support you’ll get and considering the type of analytics the hotline can produce are extremely important to the decision making process—trust me, these are features that can give you a major headache if you don’t select a service that can support your needs during and post implementation—but let’s take a step back and discuss the features you should look for in the hotline itself.
Hotlines (or helplines if you prefer) are often the first tool put into place when companies are building their compliance programs, but beyond tracking typical hotline metrics it’s often a “set it and forget it” feature. Unless there’s a problem (like high call abandon rates, call center scaling issues, excessive wait times or a lack of translators or supported languages) many companies don’t regularly review their hotline with a critical eye. But they should. The lack of support you’re currently getting could be wasting your team’s time and the hotline itself could be lacking in features that today’s workforce expect.
So whether you’re brand new to the hotline game or your helpline has been in place for years, it’s helpful to review updated feature requirements (and yes, if you want your employees to use your hotline and your compliance team to be able to generate meaningful reports you should consider them requirements) to make sure your hotline is truly effective.
One of the most important aspects of an effective hotline in 2015 is having multiple intake channels that correspond to each other and collect the same information to ensure consistent handling. Beyond that, here are a few key elements for each type of intake channel your program and hotline should support.
- The hotline supports 24/7 calls, or (at the very least) is available during regular business hours in every location that your company has employees in
- A live person answers all calls (voicemail makes employees feel like their reports are not taken seriously)
- Calls are answered in a timely manner—the longer the wait time, the higher your call abandon rate
- Calls are greeting in their local language
- Hotline call center employees are training to consistently take and properly document calls and conduct interviews to your organization’s expectations and standards
- Questions are consistent with the other intake channels and from call to call (a set script for call center employees to follow helps with this)
- Reporters are educated on how to access their reports and view the status of the case
- There is a secure way for the compliance team to request additional information from the reporter—even if they are anonymous (yes, this is a feature available with some solutions and a very important one at that!)
- The intake page looks easy to complete and non-threatening. Too much legal text and complicated forms can scare reporters away. AND SEE HOW OFF-PUTTING ALL CAPS, RED TEXT IS!
- All pages, forms and associated text is easily available in the reporter’s native language (this includes policies, legal disclosures and disclaimers and Codes of Conduct linked from your web intake page)
- Easy-to-follow wizards walk the reporter through the process and provide context and clarification where needed. Remember, with web intake there’s no person on the other end of the line to help explain the process.
- EU data privacy laws are followed where needed
- Reports have an easy and secure way to upload and attach evidence and documents to their report
- Reporters receive instructions on how to access their reports and view the status of the case
- There is a secure way for the compliance team to request additional information
In-Person Proxy Intake
- Clear policies are in place for the handling of in-person reports–including who can accept official reports, how managers should treat reporters and reports, set questions to ask (the same as the other intake channels) and disclaimers to provide
- Managers receive regular training on taking official compliance reports, particularly around confidentially and security
- Non-retaliation policies are made clear and strictly enforced
- Managers understand where and how to log proxy reports
- A time frame for filing proxy reports if defined and strictly enforced
- Managers and reporters have a secure way to submit evidence and pertinent documents
- Managers understand and are able to explain how reporters can access their reports and view the status of the case
- The compliance team has a secure way to communicate directly with the reporting party without having to go through the proxy
Those are just a handful of important requirements. You can see more—and get this list in a usable checklist format—when you download the Hotline Channels Evaluation Checklist. It also covers another important intake channel we didn’t discuss here!