Experts in Ethics, Fraud, Security and/or Safety can't be everywhere, exactly when your staff members need them. You need a way to extend your reach, much like an ATM does for a bank or a check-in kiosk does for airlines.
This is where intelligent app-based hotlines (that work on both desktop and mobile devices) add significant value.
This kind of hotline system combines Machine Learning (a component of Artificial Intelligence), subject matter expertise and investigations experts to guide users through an interview tailored to their concern. Systems like this help by reducing time to discovery and uncover critical, often missed details about workplace concerns, helping you resolve issues more quickly and efficiently, before they become costly incidents.
A step up from a form with generic, catch all questions and fill in the blank questions, a form with skip logic is more user friendly and quicker to complete. Skip logic (sometimes called "branch logic") allows the creator of the form to choose the next question in a sequence based on how a user responded to the current question.
Some people like skip logic-based forms because they help make sure users are not presented with questions that may not be relevant to their concern. This is the approach used by most online survey tools today, but it has some notable limitations when it comes to incident reporting:
A significant drawback of using skip logic for online interviews is that if you want to change even a single question in the sequence, you will likely have to rebuild the entire sequence of question. This can be both costly and time consuming, especially for investigators and managers of risk who are already overburdened. As such, skip logic-based forms tend to become outdated over time, failing to keep up with changes in the workplace and as such become less valuable.
Another drawback is that while skip logic may make user's "feel" the form is more tailored to them, in fact the often generic questions are not specifically tailored to their issue. This leaves critical details uncovered, leading to missed opportunities and the need for more follow-up work.
For many, web forms were once viewed as state-of-the-art for workplace hotlines. But, much like the outdated telephone hotlines web forms replaced (or augmented), they too are falling behind when it comes to how today's digital workforce prefers to communicate.
While at one time web forms were a preferred user experience, mobile and desktop apps are now the preferred way most staff prefer to communicate. This means that hotline apps must now take center stage in order to ensure the timely communication of workplace concerns you rely upon to reduce costs related to investigation, resolution and reputation damage. Those who don't appreciate this change in employee communication habits leave inadvertent (and significant) barriers to staff reporting of concerns in place, creating a false sense of security regarding awareness of potentially serious issues.
That said, change is hard and pairing a website-based form (or an app...hint hint) with a telephone hotline can be important to effective change management. Many find that it's important to offer multiple modes of communication for your workplace hotline, especially in (for example) manufacturing environments where use of mobile devices is not allowed or convenient.
Based on your selected preferences a traditional telephone-based hotline will work best...for now. It is increasingly rare, however, to find that a telephone-based hotline will meet the expectations of today's workforce and, as a result, actually do what you need it to do: keep you informed of workplace issues, before they become critical incidents.
Sometimes, based on a unique operating environment and/or unique workforce demographics, a telephone-based hotline is a good fit. It is also often the "go to choice" for those companies who are looking for a basic, inexpensive, "check the box" hotline to meet a regulatory requirement. While not a best practice, it's a step in the right direction and better than nothing.
While not the primary method we offer, NWFC™ also offers a telephone-based hotline as an add-on element of our intelligent app-based system.
A significant difference between us and traditional phone-based hotlines, however, is that our call center operators use the NWFC™ intelligent web app in the background during the call. So, rather than a static script of generic questions, operators use our app in the background to ask callers the same set of tailored questions, generated by our unique combination of machine learning and subject matter expertise.