Second Harvest Heartland puts its neighbors first

Second Harvest Heartland
Second Harvest Heartland
To meet increasing demand for citizen support while keeping costs low with limited budgets.
AI and automation integrations to automate routine tasks, programs, and data capturing and improve efficiency.

Company Quote

It’s exciting to have so much data and insight available in ServiceNow, enabling us to identify what our communities really need most, and to fine tune our services.

Tina England
Operations Manager

Key Metrics

Care Center is now returning calls 74% faster than previously.

Campaigning for an end to hunger

When neighbors and their families are at risk of going hungry in Minnesota and western Wisconsin, Second Harvest Heartland is always there to help.

Second Harvest Heartland is one of the biggest and most effective hunger relief organizations in the United States. It has helped provide 113 million meals, rescued 20,000 tons of surplus food from grocers and restaurants, and partnered with 70 farms to source fresh produce. Using its extensive warehousing and distribution capacity, it has supplied 61,000 tons of food to its network of 1,000 local programs.

In addition to its own hunger relief programs, Second Harvest Heartland, based in Brooklyn Park, a suburb outside Minneapolis, helps residents – or ‘neighbors ’– to access state and federal support, and is a tireless campaigner for concerted national action to end food insecurity.

“With ServiceNow, we can have a more friendly, informed, and caring conversation with our neighbors.”

When a friendly voice means everything

With almost 400,000 Minnesotans seeking help to put food on the table, Second Harvest Heartland brings hope of a better life to many. It supports working parents and families, senior citizens, and those suffering from hardship, isolation, or ill health. Its people are often a friendly voice that those in need hear, providing reassurance that help is at hand.

“We’ve seen a huge increase in demand for our services,” explains Operations Manager Tina England. “We have an aging population on fixed incomes and many households are struggling.”

“It’s exciting to have so much data and insight available in ServiceNow, enabling us to identify what our communities really need most, and to fine tune our services. That knowledge is priceless.”

“Our harsh winters push heating bills up and inflation is a problem for everyone, not just here in Minnesota.”

Although the organization receives generous financial support from more than 58,000 individual donors and 2,600 businesses, and the contributions of more than 16,000 volunteers, it’s constantly striving to maximize its impact for as many people as possible, as cost effectively as possible, within limited budgets.

Technology is playing a vital role in the efficient running of day-to-day operations, automating routine tasks, running programs, and capturing data about those seeking help and the emergency food supply chain. In 2019, the organization began using ServiceNow IT Service Management to help improve the performance of its IT systems.

Then, after seeking support from ServiceNow Elite Partner Accelare, a digital transformation specialist with extensive nonprofit experience, the organization adopted ServiceNow Customer Service Management to help call center staff better support citizens in need.

Every neighbor counts

“It’s awesome to see ServiceNow technology working for our team, helping them to support our neighbors in need.”

Residents contact Second Harvest Heartland primarily by telephone and email. But without a contact center solution, inbound voicemail and email requests all required reviewing and manually triaging, while agents returned calls using their personal cellphones. Due to high call volumes and antiquated processes, response times to a client could often take up to two months.

“We were so busy we just couldn’t keep up,” explained Tina. “We needed to get away from relying on cellphone and individuals, and move to a more focused team approach, using better technology.

“Keeping our neighbors at the center of everything we do is our goal. We wanted to respond much more quickly, to spend the right amount of time supporting them, providing the right information and guiding them through each process, speaking their native language whenever possible.

“These conversations sometimes last a couple of hours, but they are absolutely vital to provide reassurance that help is at hand.”

So, when ServiceNow launched its new Public Sector Digital Services (PSDS) solution, both Second Harvest Heartland and Accelare identified it as the ideal platform on which to transform its ability to support those in need.

Developed specifically for organizations like Second Harvest Heartland, PSDS’s out-of-the-box capabilities would enable it to consolidate and manage its data, streamline its activities with automated workflows, and provide a much better experience for staff and neighbors alike.

In a nutshell, with PSDS the organization could do much more, deliver better outcomes for more people, faster, and more efficiently.

“Staying out of the box is huge too – we’re using ServiceNow as it was originally designed to be used.”

Friendly, informed, caring conversations

Now, Second Harvest Heartland is responding instantly, with a centralized call center team that has a single number and email to answer incoming inquiries. Support is available in seven languages and in the first month, the team handled almost 2,000 calls – a number they anticipated would take six months to reach. By the end of month three, more than 8,000 neighbors had been supported using PSDS.

With the addition of taking live calls, Senior Food Box (CSFP) program enrollments in Q1 2024 were nearly double the same period in 2023. And with ServiceNow in place, the Care Center is now returning calls 74% faster than previously.

“Answering live calls and talking to people in real time is a huge win for us,” says Jen Gareis, Business Analyst at Second Harvest Heartland. “And when the caller is known to us, every agent can immediately see their history, and documentation in ServiceNow. They don’t have to repeat their story again, which can be retraumatizing.

“Instead, with ServiceNow, we can have a more friendly, informed, and caring conversation with our neighbors. We know what they are going through and that we’re on their side, right now and for the long term too. We can route calls to the right agent, with the tools to provide very personal support, for every individual.

With some applications, personal support from a Second Harvest Heartland agent fast tracks the process. The federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which requires completion of detailed forms containing 250 data points, is one of these applications.

Utilizing playbooks, the agent is able to capture all 250 data points in a conversational manner. The government-issued PDF is auto-populated and the agent is able to email the completed application to the neighbor at the end of the call.

The neighbor can review, sign, and return the application to the appropriate county, speeding up the delivery of food or the release of other benefits or support to the neighbor.

For those contacting Second Harvest Heartland for the first time, the system captures their details securely and confidentially in ServiceNow, to ensure continuity of information for subsequent conversations.

And with rich data at their fingertips, agents can also direct them to other sources of help, with energy bills or childcare services, for example.

Strong collaboration

The transformation of its call center capability, using the ServiceNow PSDS platform, is the result of a strong collaboration between Second Harvest Heartland, Accelare, and ServiceNow Premier Partner, 3CLogic – one of the world’s leading providers of cloud call center software and services.

Thanks to 3CLogic, agents now enjoy the benefits of a computer telephony integration with ServiceNow, with automated ServiceNow screen pop ups for each engagement, streamlining how agents work, removing manual tasks with everything available from a single screen.

Supervisors can manage the entire contact center from within ServiceNow without the need to depend on IT resources to administer daily changes and adjustments. Access to metrics – such as numbers of calls, call duration, and call recording - enable accurate and readily available dashboards and reports.

“It’s awesome to see ServiceNow technology working for our team, helping them to support our neighbors in need,” says Jen.

“The partnership has been outstanding. Accelare and 3CLogic have challenged us to make the very best of the technology, to make it live and breathe for us, to meet our needs every day”

“And staying out of the box is huge too – we’re using ServiceNow as it was originally designed to be used. We always have the latest versions of everything and every upgrade and revision is seamless.”

A winning formula for all nonprofits

Next, Second Harvest Heartland will use PSDS to publish where—in every county and community—emergency food is available, including contact details and opening hours. ServiceNow Virtual Agent will also be added, ensuring access to support—in one form or another—24/7.

“It’s exciting to have so much data and insight available in ServiceNow,” says Tina. “We can analyze how long it takes to complete an application, how long a typical phone call lasts, and which programs are most discussed, enabling us to identify what our communities really need most and to fine tune our services. That knowledge is priceless.”

Using data in ServiceNow, executive summary dashboards are available for the organization’s leadership to consume information about day-to-day activities. Soon, these reporting tools will also be extended to provide summary compliance information for state and federal authorities.

Second Harvest Heartland is demonstrating that groundbreaking technology is not just for large corporate organizations with deep pockets.

PSDS, operating in tandem with 3CLogic’s contact center solution, provides an enterprise quality solution that’s secure, scalable, easy to use, and affordable, which can equip nonprofits around the world to focus on what they do best - caring for those in need.

“Using ServiceNow and 3CLogic was a no brainer – it provides a win for everyone involved. The dashboard and real-time metrics allow leadership to make data driven decisions on where help is needed.”

“The client and case management coupled with the 3CLogic telephony services, reduces the swivel chairing and frustration on the part of the agent, thus making the job at hand easier and more fulfilling.”

Adds Denis Seynhaeve, CEO, 3CLogic: “When it comes to customer service, we believe in digital first but not digital only strategies. Second Harvest’s success showcases the benefits of leveraging today’s latest solutions to solve for everyday tasks and requests in order to focus on what matters most - serving their community.”

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