How might we evaluate the user experience and impact of a financial hardship helpline?
Turn2us helps people in financial hardship to gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services. The charity commissioned Eclipse to gain insight into service user experiences and the impact of the Turn2us helpline in order to identify opportunities for improvement.
We are taking an integrated mixed-method approach; gathering rich qualitative insights into individuals’ service experience with semi-structured interviews and deploying short, interactive surveys to quantify findings and the financial impact of the helpline. Close collaboration and engagement with key stakeholders ensures that our approach is informed by the charity’s desired service outcomes.
Our research will generate rich insights into service users’ experiences before, during and after their contact with the helpline. A comparison with Turn2us’ intended service outcomes will allow us to identify opportunities for improvements. The project will also build a Framework that will enable ongoing evaluation and build capability in the organisation.
Receiving the benefits they are entitled to and additional benevolent grants can make a big difference to the life of people experiencing financial hardship. Turn2us provides support with tools that calculate what benefits people can claim and signposting to benevolent grants and local charities that can provide further support. Whilst these services are provided online, the charity helpline makes these tools available to those that do not have access to the internet or need further support to navigate the information and use the tools.
However, the process of claiming benefits and applying for grants can be intimidating and challenging. To effectively support service users with a single helpline call, the process and information provision need to be designed with an understanding of what happens after the call. It is, therefore, key to engage with helpline users after their call in order to understand how they use the information they received, the challenges and barriers they encounter, and ultimately, what the impact on their financial situation and well-being is. We are taking an integrated human-centred approach to evaluate the impact of the helpline service and identify opportunities for improvements.
First, we conducted a stakeholder session to collaboratively determine the ideal helpline user journey and devise a Theory of Change that shows how Turn2us wants to work and what outcomes the organisation wants to achieve for their customers. This provided scope for the following research activities and facilitates engagement with key stakeholders early on in the project.
We are conducting semi-structured interviews with a purposefully selected sample of helpline users to explore their experiences of using the helpline, explore their use of the received information and the actions they take to improve their situation. The findings of the interviews will feed into early iterations of the Evaluation Framework and inform the evaluation surveys.
We will design and deploy two surveys that evaluate the impact of the helpline on callers’ financial wellbeing and further explore their experiences. The surveys are online and telephone-based to included those who have no access to the internet, and will be deployed 10 and 20 weeks after contact with the Turn2us helpline.
We will deliver a human-centred impact evaluation and shed light on the experience of people in financial hardship taking action to improve their financial situation. This will form the basis to collaboratively explore how the Turn2us helpline could better support people in financial hardship. In addition, we will devise an Evaluation Framework that can be used and iterated to evaluate the impact of the helpline in the future.