Know your audience
The most important part of your Freedom Fone Service is knowing your audience. As you build the service, it is your audience who will be calling in to use it, so it is worth spending some extra time to get to know more about them. The better you know your audience and their information needs, the more effectively you can design the service so that it works for them!
The following are some thoughts for you to consider as you get to know your audience better.
What languages do your audience speak?
It is possible to make your Freedom Fone Service available in multiple languages to reach a wider audience; this also increases the amount of work required in preparing audio content. Decisions about what languages you will provide your service in will impact who uses the service and the value they attach to it.
What is the age of your audience?
Young people tend to be more technology savvy when it comes to using mobile phones and will likely find it easier to learn to use the Freedom Fone Service than an older generation. As you design the service, keep in mind how to best communicate with your target age group.
Where do they currently get information?
It is quite possible that your audience are getting the information you are proposing to offer through other means at the moment. It is useful to find out as much as you can about these sources and assess their strengths and weaknesses. This will guide the design of your Freedom Fone Service to improve upon existing sources and offer new value.
What do they consider valuable?
If a caller finds the information you make available valuable enough, they will bear the cost of making the call to your Freedom Fone Service. Find out what makes your information unique and consider how to prepare it in a concise way so that it is smoothly accessible over the phone.
What does your audience find funny?
Humour is an excellent way to keep people coming back to your Freedom Fone Service again and again. Find out if there are comedians, jokes or types of entertainment that you could integrate into your service to keep it entertaining and informative at the same time.
Income levels of your audience?
Typically those with a higher income level will spend more time on your Freedom Fone Service compared to those with a lower income. Many people are conservative with their mobile phone airtime so it is important to consider who you want to reach and what they will consider valuable enough to make that call to your service.
What mobile networks do people use?
Certain mobile networks may be more popular with your target audience than others, this can help guide you in many ways including approaching a mobile network to partner with, for example to get a toll-free number. It is also possible to take advantage of certain tariffs and promotions offered by a network to lower the cost of calls.
Conduct a Focus Group Discussion
One excellent way to further conceptualize and design your Freedom Fone Service is to invite the very people who will be using it to talk as a group! If you can arrange to travel to where the audience is based and make it easy for them to participate you will increase your chances of getting a higher number of participants.
Consider dividing the participants into three groups: Adult men, Adult women and youth - this can help you get different perspectives and allows participants to share more freely.
Usually, the outcomes from these discussions will be very helpful in refining your initial ideas about the Freedom Fone Service into something even more attractive and useful to your audience.
Setup a stakeholder meeting
The outcomes of the focus group discussion with your audience can be used to gather all the stakeholders involved including the ones who will be the information sources that will create the content for your service. A participatory process of engaging this group with a facilitator to lead the process can help ensure that your service is relevant, realistic and most importantly - of value to your callers.
Educating your audience
For many callers this will be the first time they have used an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) system - they may need some extra help in understanding how to use the service/technology. Here are some possible ways to introduce them to your service:
Use the radio to demonstrate
A familiar and likeable radio presenter could be a perfect candidate for demonstrating and introducing your audience to how to use your Freedom Fone Service. By making an example phone call to your service live on-air through the radio, your audience can hear an actual example of your Freedom Fone Service and how to interact with it. The radio presenter will gently guide them through the steps. This broadcast can be recorded and replayed as a radio spot throughout the day on the radio.
Follow up with one-time callers
If IVR is a new experience to many of your audience they may hang up in the first five or ten seconds of their first call because they are uncertain of what to do. Consider having a real person follow up with these one-time callers with a phone call to ask the caller if they need any help with using the service or have any questions. This also builds a nice connection between you and your audience.
Downstream training in public places
Public places where many of your audience might be gathered on a daily basis such as markets, clinics, churches, mosques, bus stops etc can be an excellent place to demonstrate the usage of your service. Consider having a battery powered PA address system or loudspeaker connected to a mobile phone and demonstrate how to use the Freedom Fone Service. This can also be an excellent place to hand out stickers, postcards or other marketing materials advertising your Freedom Fone service phone numbers.
Checking in with your audience
Are you on track? See the chapter Monitoring and evaluation.