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10 Questions You Should Be Asking Your Compliance Hotline Vendors

We’ve just published a new ebook for compliance leaders looking for due diligence questions when vetting hotline vendors or auditing existing ones. This article presents highlights from the guide, but you can download the full report here.

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A whistleblower hotline is a critical tool to gain insight into compliance issues, for compliance management and risk mitigation. When your hotline vendor manages the whistleblower hotline properly, you’ll have more knowledge of issues, better risk management and less exposure to lawsuits and fines. With a 3rd party hotline, compliance violations are reported safely and discreetly.

It would be great if finding a true compliance partner working in your best interest to run your hotline were easy. Unfortunately it’s not.

Look for a True Compliance Hotline Partner

10 questions to ask your hotline vendor

In this article, we present a few tips that can make your due diligence easier when it comes to signing a hotline partner. They go beyond the standard advice of ‘read reviews’ and ‘explore referrals,’ digging into the real meat and potatoes of what you need from a hotline vendor.

Let’s go over the 10 questions you should be asking your hotline vendors before bringing them onboard. If you already have a vendor working for you, apply these same questions to audit their current performance.

1. What is the average wait time before a caller speaks to a live operator?

Leaving callers on hold for too long is inexcusable. Make sure your vendor is prompt, courteous, and has a team available to answer every call that comes in.

The vendor must understand that employee time is valuable, especially when it comes to reporting a serious compliance issue. The caller is busy at work, and only has a short amount of time to report the issue. Keeping them on hold is not only inconvenient, but flat out rude.

Ask for a call time quote to get a sense of the vendor’s overall level of customer service. This should include elevator music which some vendors try to hide.

ComplianceLine answers every call live from the U.S. No waiting. No queues. No bad elevator music.

2. What is your call abandon rate?

A compliance vendor must treat each call with a sense of urgency. Long wait times or other interruptions potentially put employees at risk, which ultimately falls back on the leadership of your organization.

Severe issues like sexual misconduct, safety risks, physical threats, or illicit substance abuse must be reported immediately. The last thing you want is for an employee to give up on their phone call and leave you in the dark.

According to a recent consumer survey, nearly two-thirds of clients indicate they are only willing to wait 2 minutes or less before hanging up. Meanwhile about thirteen percent of respondents said that no hold time was acceptable.

Choose vendors who answer every call quickly, thus treating each employee with respect and every issue with the importance it deserves.

Ask vendors to provide you with statistics on their abandonment rates and ask to test their hotline and intake process yourself. You will be stunned to find that many potential vendors will not allow hotline tests. How’s that for transparency?

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3. What’s the turnover rate for hotline operators?

Experience matters when it comes to managing highly-sensitive compliance issues. Make sure your vendors have a team and systems in place that are well-equipped to handle complex scenarios and offer top-notch support for every caller.

A simple check of the vendor’s Glassdoor reviews will give you a rough idea about their training regiment and treatment of their employees.

Your goal here is simple. You want to find out:

  1. How long have their operators been working who serve your line?
  2. What training and credentials do they have?

Inexperienced representatives will struggle with risk assessment and they will likely fumble through the call process. Vendors must provide capable personnel who can meet the complexities of your compliance issues.

ComplianceLine operators undergo 160 hours of live training before working independently. The average operator tenure is 3-7 years, which is 400-900% better than the industry average).

4. What is the process and current rate for quality reviews?

Understand your vendor’s incident quality assurance review process. In many call centers, managers don’t review all the reports for quality control. They may view one out of every one hundred and give you the impression that everything is going smoothly. This lack of commitment to your needs is driven by the vendor’s need to reduce the cost of call reviews.

There are many variables that go into call quality, especially when you’re talking about a wide array of compliance issues – including operator temperament. How do they handle frustrated callers? Or a high call volume?

Ask about your hotline vendor’s quality review process to see whether their metrics gel with your organizational goals.

Ultimately, you are the one who defines success – and guess what – your success is not based on your vendor’s ability to cut costs and increase profits!

5. What standardized fields are collected and tracked?

Vendors should have a set of standardized fields they use to track every issue that comes in. This criteria will help you identify and involve the correct parties which leads to faster closure of investigations.

It also creates useful statistical data to identify trends and discover ways to improve the entire compliance process.

Increase efficiency and dedicate a tighter budget to the things that impact your overall goals.

Find out what standard components are tracked and ask for advice on which fields you should be tracking and reporting on to support your goals.

6. What questions are asked outside the scripted process?

questions for hotline vendors

Are your vendors asking the right questions beyond the scripted process? Going off-script can be dangerous when the operator has limited experience. It’s important to know that each call is guided correctly to gather as much information on the original call as possible.

Intelligent follow-up questions around witnesses, prior/related instances, and requested resolution empower your compliance team to reach smarter solutions.

Make sure essential, standardized information is consistently collected. At the same time, avoid robotic intake methods so that the original call is the very first step in your investigation process. This will reduce follow up calls and time to close the issue.

ComplianceLine enlists a dynamic call approach that’s fully customized with adaptive interviews and detailed directives. Trained operators use investigative techniques instead of a call script.

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7. What service levels do you offer within or in addition to quoted/subscribed services?

Know what you’re about to pay for and avoid hidden fees. Ask a prospective vendor ahead of time what support, customization, and enhancements are included in your service. Let them give you a proper justification about why you should pay extra for certain features.

Simply purchasing an off-the-shelf package can put your team behind the eight ball, costing valuable time and budgetary resources.

8. What notification options do you offer?

Be informed seconds after a report is filed. Most providers will offer at least a basic notification so your team is aware as soon as an issue is reported. The problem, though, is access. If you’re in a meeting or in transit, you won’t be able to access the information fast enough to help your team.

The best systems enable intelligent issue assignment based on criteria like issue category, location, and issue severity.

Inform the right parties so they can tackle compliance issues right away, and avoid valuable time slipping away.

9. What reporting is standard and what enhancements are available?

Looking at individual issues can be helpful, but the best compliance program results come from identifying macro information. Your vendor needs to be able to let you mine data across your organization to identify trends and focus your efforts on preventative measures.

The accuracy of reporting is vital to proper data mining. Look for system capabilities to get the most out of the information you’ve been tracking.

10. What added value do you provide to our compliance team?

It’s blunt, to the point, but extremely important to know before you hire a hotline vendor.A high-quality hotline is your best line of defense from a toxic work environment, and it’s a key contributor in fostering a more engaged workforce.

Your vendor must provide significant value to your organizational compliance goals, otherwise you’re better off using a voicemail system to record complaints (hint: don’t do that). Hire a vendor that makes your job easier, reduces risk management worries, and enable you and your team to focus on what you do best.

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