Empathy in action: enhancing Lifeline's text support service for employees

Full name
11 Jan 2022
5 min read

Lifeline sought to align their staff around the rollout of a new text-based crisis support service. Using research and workshops, we created an illustrated storyboard that demonstrated the employee experience and highlighted areas for improvement. The outcome was a clear roadmap for improving the volunteer experience and internal communication that aligned staff towards a common goal.

Australia’s crisis support line

Lifeline is a national charity committed to providing 24-hour crisis support and suicide prevention services to all Australians experiencing emotional distress. With a network of 41 centres, including 10,000 volunteers and 1,000 employees, Lifeline is dedicated to ensuring that no person in Australia has to face their darkest moments alone. Their telephone, text, and online crisis support services receive over 1 million contacts a year, and their training programs and research foundation contribute to building community skills and creating new knowledge in suicide prevention.

Uniting Lifeline staff for success

Lifeline were rolling out major enhancements to their text service, enabling people to receive support through text messaging in addition to their phone services. Their key aim was to align Lifeline staff to a common goal and effectively expand the program.

Lifeline needed to clearly communicate the work being done around the text service among their staff and create a vision for the future employee experience to motivate and engage their teams.

The objectives of Lifeline were to:

  • Publicise the enhancements to the Text service among internal teams to create awareness and understanding of the changes.
  • Align staff to a common goal and motivate them to actively support the rollout of the new service.
  • Improve the employee experience of Text Supporters by identifying and addressing current challenges through research and empathy mapping.

From insights to illustrations: mapping the volunteer experience for improved results

Our solution was to take an illustrative approach that would demonstrate the service from the Crisis Supporter's point of view, to align Lifeline staff to a common goal and effectively expand the program.

What we did:

  • Analysed existing materials and data to form a comprehensive picture of requirements
  • Conducted user research by talking to existing Crisis Supporters
  • Facilitated workshops to develop personas and user journeys
  • Mapped the volunteer experience
  • Collaboratively designed an illustrative storyboard to highlight Lifeline’s aims in a concise, emotive and reader-friendly set of designs

We started by conducting phone interviews with text supporters who had been part of the pilot service, gaining insight into their work life and capturing positive aspects as well as current challenges. 

Working closely with Lifeline stakeholders, we then created high-level personas that could be used as characters in the story and went through detailed empathy mapping workshops to detail the current-state perspective (of the pilot) and the ideal future state that the business would be working towards. This helped us highlight areas where improvements could be made to ease the experience and support volunteers to stay on board.

After mapping out the detailed emotional journey, we created a series of illustrations which showed the process from the perspectives of the crisis supporter personas. These illustrations were used to create a storyboard that could be shared amongst the business, aligning staff and creating a vision for the future employee experience.

Benefits of Lifeline's employee experience map 

The illustrative approach to unite staff in the rollout of the new text-based Crisis Support Service yielded some great results. Through our research and communication methods, we were able to gain new insights into Lifeline's volunteering experience and identify areas for improvement. 

“Airteam’s research and communications methods helped gain new insights into Lifeline’s volunteering experience and where we can improve it. We now have a clear roadmap proudly displayed in the office which helps us focus on what matters most: how we serve people.”

– Chris Harwood, Executive Director, Service Design and Delivery

Here are just a few of the outcomes achieved:

Employee experience map & clearly defined actions for business improvement.

Our research and workshops facilitated the development of an employee experience map, which provided a detailed understanding of the current-state perspective of the pilot service and the ideal future state that Lifeline was working towards. This map helped identify specific actions that needed to be taken to improve the employee experience, including addressing challenges and supporting volunteers to keep them engaged and on board.

Internal communication that aligned staff towards a common goal.

The storyboard and illustrations we created provided a visual representation of the vision for the future employee experience, from a volunteer signing up, to training, through to gaining full confidence as a long-standing team member. This internal communication material helped align Lifeline staff uniting staff in furthering Lifeline’s values.

Improved volunteer retention and program expansion.

By addressing challenges and improving the employee experience, Lifeline was able to efficiently expand the program. Our roadmap was proudly displayed in the office, serving as a guide for the team on how to best serve people and achieve the organisation's goals.

Success through storytelling

We are proud to have been able to provide Lifeline with valuable insights, and to improve their communication for a clearer shared vision of the future.

If you would like to find out more about how we could help you with projects like Lifeline’s, we’d be happy to chat. You can learn more about our healthcare industry software experience, see how we've helped similar organisations like the Red Cross improve their user experience, or get in touch via our contact form.