Pocket Hotline

Pocket Hotline


Pocket Hotline helps you scale your support resources without the hassle and expense of training new employees.

More About This Project

During on-site research we discovered that many nonprofits, especially social service programs, have become de facto call centers. For example, here in Austin the homeless shelter has become the go-to for all things homeless. They receive a surplus of calls and are forced to spend their limited resources collecting and distributing general information about programs in the area. (Never mind all the services provided on-site.)

We believe that by connecting people in need to the larger community, culture change can happen. We’ve got to stop corralling all the social programs downtown and then conveniently avoiding them. This is bad for people who need help, but it’s also bad for us living in a fantasy world.

We’re building a platform that helps leverage remote volunteers, helps organizations externalize and redefine their processes, but more importantly directly connects the community to those in need. Pocket Hotline is a mobile app that routes calls from the front desk of social programs to the cell phones of remote volunteers. Instead of the calls ringing at the homeless center, a volunteer can receive calls on their mobile phone whenever they are “on call”. Pocket Hotline gives the phone operators a searchable index of information at their fingertips, allowing them to answer questions quickly and effectively.

Pocket Hotline was developed as a result of contextual immersion in the homeless community. But many communities can use this type of service to support their members. We’ve set up a pocket hotline for Ruby on Rails support, encouraging novice software developers to call in and talk to an expert. Rails Hotline was picked up by hacker news, and in just a few days time,

  • Jason Fried, one of the founders of 37 signals (the company that developed Ruby on Rails), tweeted about it
  • We added some great volunteers to their Rails Hotline
  • We identified a partner for their first professional pilot of Pocket Hotline.

In brief, here’s our pocket hotline story:

We help keep your customers happy while saving you money. It’s expensive to train support staff who don’t use your product and have no empathy for your customers. This process of manufacturing “experts” is time-consuming, costly, and ultimately not very effective.

Instead, leverage your existing customers, who already use your product, love it, and are excited to share their knowledge. We make it easy to track the efforts of these volunteer experts and reward them with discounts and special privileges.

Pocket Hotline helps you scale your support resources without the hassle and expensive of training new employees. We also increase loyalty of your customers by engaging them as advocates for your business.

Designed By...

This project was designed by Chap Ambrose and Scott Magee.

More Information

Pocket Hotline

Visit our site to learn more.

Ruby On Rails Hotline

An instance of Pocket Hotline, intended to demonstrate the power of the community support network.