For thirty years, the Money Matters charity has been helping some of the most vulnerable people in our society with all kinds of financial issues. Some people need help to access benefits, for example. Others want to resolve debt problems. Money Matters also gives people the knowledge they need to choose affordable credit, and generally manage their money well, And the charity does much more besides. It has around forty staff, some of whom have been with it throughout its life.
It provides its services in a variety of ways. It has a drop-in centre at its Glasgow HQ, and in over thirty other locations around Scotland. It also goes out into the community to find people who might need help – for example at GP practices and food banks. And it runs several specific projects that tackle particular needs, usually with partners. For example with the British Gas Energy Trust it runs a large project, across Scotland, that helps people in ‘fuel poverty’ who cannot afford to pay their energy bills.
Its funding sources are wide and varied too. Other particularly significant funders include Glasgow City Council and the NHS.
We spoke to its CEO, Geraldine Cotter, who was also its first employee in 1990.
Geraldine had been aware for some time that Money Matters needed to create more ways for people to contact the charity and access its services.
Geraldine says, “We called it the ‘Channel Shift’ plan. A lot of our work is done face-to-face. But, for example, many of our clients are in full-time work, so if we’re only available during standard office hours that doesn’t meet their needs. We could see that we’d have to introduce lots of new formats, such as live chats and video calls.
“As Money Matters has worked with Silver Cloud for many years, in 2019 we invited them to come in and help us shape our changing methods of delivery.”
We came up with a range of ideas. The centerpiece was introducing a collaboration tool called Wildix.
In effect, this turns a computer into a phone, plus all the other tools you need like video calls, instant messages, group chat, file sharing, screen sharing and much more.
It works from your computer’s browser, so there are no security worries. And it allows you to communicate with people that don’t have Wildix themselves. They just click a weblink – they don’t have to download any software or register for anything.
By early 2020, Money Matters was ready to start putting our proposed solution in place. And then…
By early March it was clear that the Covid crisis was going to have a huge impact. Some other countries were already in lockdown, and many were wondering if the same would happen here too.
Fortunately Wildix is perfectly suited to home working. Firstly we sourced laptops for all of Money Matters’ staff, which was very difficult because demand soared as people looked into home working.
On the Friday 20 March, three days before the lockdown was announced, we supplied Money Matters with laptops, headsets, and a ‘data box’ to manage the fact that people would be using the system through different data services.
Wildix’s ease of use was a huge advantage here. It’s very quick and easy to set up, and you don’t need an engineer to visit. It’s also very simple for people to use, even if they aren’t technically minded.
Lockdown was announced on the evening of Monday 23 March. By lunchtime on Tuesday, Money Matters was fully set up and ready to continue operating as normal with all of its staff at home.
Geraldine says: “Silver Cloud were amazing in getting everything set up so quickly. It was all very organized and regimented: each member of staff got a package containing everything they needed. It was like joining the army! Without Silver Cloud we would have found it very difficult to continue providing our services, which would have been a critical emergency for many of our clients.
“It’s particularly useful to be able to do group calls easily, as we use a lot of translators, so we often need to have three or four people on one call. The call recording feature is also essential, for quality, training and GDPR purposes, and to help me keep in touch with everything that’s going on.”
And Wildix hasn’t just enabled Money Matters to continue to help clients. It has brought huge benefits internally too, by making it easy for people to communicate, share ideas, and stay in touch via Chat Groups.
Geraldine says: “The instant chat has been great. People use it to ask others for help with difficult enquiries – there’s usually someone who’s dealt with the same problem before and can share their knowledge. We have a chat thread for IT enquiries, one for general discussion, and so on. We also use it for fun things like quizzes, to keep morale up.”
Wildix also gives Geraldine all the reports she needs to manage the team effectively: “For example, I can see who’s getting more or fewer calls than others, so I can adapt accordingly.”
As Geraldine points out, she expected to make these changes at some point in the future, just not quite so soon or so quickly: “We’d been talking about ‘Channel Shift’ for a while, but the lockdown brought it to the forefront and made it a reality. And it’s not a temporary thing. On the contrary, in the future we’ll add even more channels. And we’ll be keeping flexible working too. I’m already talking to Silver Cloud about next steps.”
Even though Money Matters was forced to introduce Digital Transformation in a hurry, it has still enjoyed all the benefits it hoped for – and more.
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