Webchat for Solace Women's Aid

The Challenge

Solace Women's Aid is a London-based charity which gives support to women and children suffering from domestic abuse.  The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown in the UK had disastrous impacts on the rates of domestic abuse and violence in the country's capital. During the UK's first lockdown, there was a 65% increase in calls to the National Domestic Helpline and a 7% increase in domestic crimes reported to the police.  Solace's free Advice Line saw a similar rise of calls - up to a 117% increase since before the pandemic.  

With a finite level of resource available, a chat line that closed at 5pm, and the knowledge that younger users don’t always feel comfortable (or safe) calling a helpline, Solace needed to offer fast and effective support via additional routes.

“For many the easing of lockdown means the enjoyment of renewed freedoms, but for women and families facing abuse and violence they may finally be able to leave and flee from abuse. As a charity known for our advice line, safe houses and rape crisis support, it came as no surprise that we were inundated with calls for help. We wanted to make sure that each and every survivor received the information, advice and support they needed quickly and efficiently, that meant a rethink of our current service offering.” Judith Banjoko, Director of Services at Solace

‍The Insights

  • Conversational interfaces like web-chat offer speed, scalability and personalisation. And with 53% of millennials citing text & chat as their preferred method of communication it's a channel most of Solace's end users are comfortable with. (OpenMarket).
  • Most of the Advice line queries Solace's team were fielding focused around similar topics. If we could serve these in a more automated way, the resource burden on the line could be reduced.
  • Solace services only support certain boroughs of London; yet many people calling their helpline were from outside the area. Solace needed a way of better funnelling those users to the best resources for their area.
  • Complex and varied opening hours were also leading to frustrated users not knowing who to call at what hour of day.
  • Limited resource meant being strategic with the deployment of a new service; leveraging sources of existing traffic such as the website to drive usage rather than creating a new experience which would require promotion and education.
Freya, Solace's virtual support worker lives on the Solace website and greets all new visitors to the site

The Solution

Working in collaboration with Solace and Wavemaker, we launched Freya on Solace's website.

Chat to Freya: https://www.solacewomensaid.org/get-help

Freya is a web-based chatbot who can provide support and advice to those who need it 24/7 via the Solace website. She acts as an extension of Solace's support team.

Depending on the time of day and location, Freya can put users in touch with the best services to contact and provide advice and tips if they're not ready to speak to someone.  

As part of the project, Voxly Digital lead on all aspects of design, content curation and creation, wire-framing and development of the chatbot.  

The web-chat is now live on Solace's website and will continue to be developed over time; with plans to include live-agent handover in the future.

Paul Hutchison, CEO UK at Wavemaker: “Solace provides invaluable support to those facing and fleeing violence at home. We identified an opportunity to work with Voxly Digital to build and develop a chatbot that could address the increase in demand coming into the Solace advice line post-lockdown. Not only does it offer 24/7 support to those in need, but it does it in a way that is discreet, quick and safe. We are proud of what the teams have achieved.”

The Challenge

Solace Women's Aid is a London-based charity which gives support to women and children suffering from domestic abuse.  The COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown in the UK had disastrous impacts on the rates of domestic abuse and violence in the country's capital. During the UK's first lockdown, there was a 65% increase in calls to the National Domestic Helpline and a 7% increase in domestic crimes reported to the police.  Solace's free Advice Line saw a similar rise of calls - up to a 117% increase since before the pandemic.  

With a finite level of resource available, a chat line that closed at 5pm, and the knowledge that younger users don’t always feel comfortable (or safe) calling a helpline, Solace needed to offer fast and effective support via additional routes.

“For many the easing of lockdown means the enjoyment of renewed freedoms, but for women and families facing abuse and violence they may finally be able to leave and flee from abuse. As a charity known for our advice line, safe houses and rape crisis support, it came as no surprise that we were inundated with calls for help. We wanted to make sure that each and every survivor received the information, advice and support they needed quickly and efficiently, that meant a rethink of our current service offering.” Judith Banjoko, Director of Services at Solace

‍The Insights

  • Conversational interfaces like web-chat offer speed, scalability and personalisation. And with 53% of millennials citing text & chat as their preferred method of communication it's a channel most of Solace's end users are comfortable with. (OpenMarket).
  • Most of the Advice line queries Solace's team were fielding focused around similar topics. If we could serve these in a more automated way, the resource burden on the line could be reduced.
  • Solace services only support certain boroughs of London; yet many people calling their helpline were from outside the area. Solace needed a way of better funnelling those users to the best resources for their area.
  • Complex and varied opening hours were also leading to frustrated users not knowing who to call at what hour of day.
  • Limited resource meant being strategic with the deployment of a new service; leveraging sources of existing traffic such as the website to drive usage rather than creating a new experience which would require promotion and education.
Freya, Solace's virtual support worker lives on the Solace website and greets all new visitors to the site

The Solution

Working in collaboration with Solace and Wavemaker, we launched Freya on Solace's website.

Chat to Freya: https://www.solacewomensaid.org/get-help

Freya is a web-based chatbot who can provide support and advice to those who need it 24/7 via the Solace website. She acts as an extension of Solace's support team.

Depending on the time of day and location, Freya can put users in touch with the best services to contact and provide advice and tips if they're not ready to speak to someone.  

As part of the project, Voxly Digital lead on all aspects of design, content curation and creation, wire-framing and development of the chatbot.  

The web-chat is now live on Solace's website and will continue to be developed over time; with plans to include live-agent handover in the future.

Paul Hutchison, CEO UK at Wavemaker: “Solace provides invaluable support to those facing and fleeing violence at home. We identified an opportunity to work with Voxly Digital to build and develop a chatbot that could address the increase in demand coming into the Solace advice line post-lockdown. Not only does it offer 24/7 support to those in need, but it does it in a way that is discreet, quick and safe. We are proud of what the teams have achieved.”

Who are Voxly Digital?

Voxly Digital is Europe's leading voice agency. We connect brands & consumers through Conversational AI. Our mission is to help brands formulate a market-winning strategy and develop the world's best conversational experiences. We're experts in strategy, design and development for voice and chat platforms like WhatsApp, Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Webchat, and more.

Our clients include dozens of global brands like Unilever, COTY, Diageo, BMW, BBC Match of the Day Magazine, Joe Wicks, Public Health England, Sony Pictures, Rogers Communications / The National Hockey League, and many others.  

Visit us at voxlydigital.com or linkedin.com/company/voxly-digital/

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