“We’ve connected thousands of people to volunteers over the years. With this new system, we’ll be able to help even more.”
Solutions Architect, Age UK
Building the New Call in Time
“We needed something big to be able to help those millions of people,” says Richard Holland, Solutions Architect at Age UK. To meet this challenge, Richard designed a more scalable, software powered solution for Call in Time. To launch it, Age UK partnered with Reason Digital, a social enterprise that works on digital solutions to social challenges.
The first step was to build a new web app for sign-ins. Age UK’s previous system vetted volunteers manually. The new app does much of that work automatically. Similar to an online dating profile, the app matches volunteers and older people, known as Call in Time members, based on common interests, like a shared hometown or musical genre.
Age UK also streamlined signup by eliminating part of the screening process required when exchanging phone numbers between volunteers and members. Using Twilio, Age UK is able to connect calls between people without actually exchanging their numbers. This automation reduces friction in the sign-up journey, because volunteers don’t have to provide as much information. It also adds a layer of safety and security to both parties on the calls.
With their new vetting process, Age UK can onboard volunteers much faster than before. But perhaps even better, their updated Call in Time application enables Age UK to automate the call process itself and scale call volume on demand.
As Richard describes, “our platform handles the scheduling of calls, checks when calls are meant to happen and fires out events and triggers. These go out to Twilio to say ‘initiate this call’. First, the volunteer is called; they pick up, receive a recorded message, press 1 and are placed in a conference call. The process is repeated with the Call in Time member. The call is recorded by Twilio for safeguarding and once the call is over, it is marked as complete in our system.”
Another key to the system’s scalability is its serverless architecture. Prior to the cloud, organizations had to rent servers big enough to handle their largest call spikes, even if the spike only lasted a half hour once a week. That extra capacity can add substantial cost. With the Twilio and AWS Lambda serverless architecture Age UK employed, the system scales on demand, while saving Age UK money.