Regional Government Authority
The Tees Valley Combined Authority initially approached Lemon at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020 to provide a Covid Support Line to businesses based in the five authorities under its jurisdiction.
The objective was to quickly stand up an information service that would inform companies and business owners of the new rules and regulations that were being released by UK Government in response to the growing pandemic.
The service required a large amount of information, that was being released by central government, to be enveloped into a manageable process that would allow the information to be accurately and efficiently relayed by the Lemon operator to the caller.
Due to the fast-moving landscape, it was imperative that the systems and processes developed would be flexible, scalable and effective, and operators would need to be highly skilled.
Due to the critical nature of the pandemic situation, time was of the essence in establishing the support line and a target of 72 hours was given to launch the help line from initial concept.
The Lemon management team mobilised quickly and set up a working group in collaboration with the combined authority. The working group established the processes and procedures that would be followed by the Lemon operators, which were subsequently mapped, allowing training resources to be developed.
Due to the large volume of information, and the fluid nature of the situation, the Lemon mobilisation team designed a bespoke database system that could be used to digest the daily updates from the government, which could then be filtered by the operator to ensure that the caller would be provided with the most relevant and up-to-date information relating to their query and market sector. A dedicated telephone number was also provided to the authority to advertise across all media outlets.
Training was expedited across a dedicated number of operators who would become knowledge experts. It was necessary for the training process to be flexible and scalable to mange the additional support and signposting that would be necessary to respond to the evolving situation.
The Lemon mobilisation team ensured all necessary resources, including IT support and system developers, were coordinated to deliver the service within the demanding timescale.
Following the launch of the service the working group remained in daily contact to manage updates from central government and respond to specific areas of concern being raised from the business community so that the authority could respond effectively.
Resources were mobilised to enable a complex and technical solution to be delivered, allowing the authority to launch the Covid Support Line within 72 hours of initial concept.
Further functionality would be developed in the coming weeks, to enable operators to provide information across email and also establish management reporting, to give the authority valuable insight to the effect of the pandemic on local businesses.
The objective was met and the Covid Business Support Line was successfully launched by the Tees Valley Mayor and the Tees Valley Combined Authority across all media outlets within 72 hours of initial concept.
The support line began taking calls immediately upon launch, providing critical information to businesses who were being overwhelmed by the impact of the pandemic. The information was sector specific and also gave business owners and operators vital details regarding support packages being administered by government through loans, grants and the employee furlough scheme.
Following the success of the Covid Business Support Line, services were expanded later in 2020 to include business support covering the UK transition from the EU on 1st January 2021 with the development of an EU Transition Business Support Line, utilsing many of the processes and systems that were established during the initial mobilisation.