Why Hotlines Don’t Work: Confused Users

Users don’t understand how to submit a tip.

This is the first of five common pitfalls to avoid when implementing a hotline, whether that’s a corporate hotline to prevent fraud, waste, and abuse or a emergency services hotline or even a school or campus hotline.  To read about the other pitfalls and why we think we know something, go back to the summary post.

If there are multiple steps between the user and the submit button, fewer tips are submitted.  In addition, once a person navigates to an online form that is complicated or has multiple boxes or options, fewer tips are submitted through the online hotline.  If the phone number for a tip is buried on a site or in a manual, fewer tips are submitted through the phone.  If there are multiple phone numbers for suggestions, sexual misconduct, labor trafficking, accounting violations, or other such divisions, fewer tips will be submitted.

The hotline tip submission process must make submissions quick and easy.  Here are just a few ways to avoid the “It’s hard,” pitfall:

  • collect all tip submissions through one form with fewer than four text entry fields
  • ask fewer than four questions if a phone line is used
  • conduct monthly reminder sessions so all users know how and where to submit a tip
  • keep it simple and sane