NCS Trust inspires more young people to achieve great things with Salesforce
Every year, nearly 100,000 teenagers take on fresh challenges together, get a taste for independence and learn new skills that help them smash their future goals. They are given the tools, respect, and opportunity to have their voice heard and do some good in their local community. They come away with new friends, new ambitions, and a new-found sense of confidence. It’s an experience they’ll never forget – and it’s all thanks to NCS Trust.
“We want to empower young people to change the world around them,” said Ryan Lang, the Salesforce Product Owner at NCS Trust. “With Salesforce, we can reach more young people and make it easier for them to take part in our programmes.” For example, the sign-up process can now be completed online in just 25 minutes – in the past it could have taken up to three weeks.
NCS facilitates 14.5 million hours of social action.
NCS, which stands for National Citizen Service, is the flagship youth empowerment programme for 16- and 17-year-olds in England and Northern Ireland. Since it was founded in 2009, more than 600,000 young people have attended an NCS programme and contributed to 14.5 million hours of social action. “We aren’t driven by how many people pay to attend a programme,” said Gianluca Romano, CRM Product and Solutions Manager for NCS. “For us, it’s about how many lives we can change and how many experiences we can facilitate.”
NCS has been using Salesforce since 2015 to streamline how it delivers these experiences and engages with participants and other stakeholders. NCS works with more than 150 charities, football clubs, councils, schools, and businesses, and collaborates with hundreds of volunteers and colleagues to deliver on its mission.
“Before Salesforce, we lacked consistency and visibility across our partners and programmes,” explained Lang. “By implementing a single platform, we were able to create a single version of the truth; everything in our world exists in Salesforce.”
Unlocking new efficiencies and insights.
In 2018, NCS decided to take its use of the platform to another level by reimagining existing processes and unlocking new insights. “When we first implemented Salesforce, it was modelled on the world we lived in. Second time round, we wanted to model it on the world we want to live in,” said Lang.
To make sure its trailblazing plans for the platform worked for the 1,500 internal and external Salesforce users, NCS set up a sandbox environment to demonstrate new functionality. “By involving our users in the transformation process, we were able to capture feedback throughout the development process and encourage greater adoption,” commented Lang. “We want to make things as easy as possible for everyone – from our partners and colleagues to the young people taking part in our programmes and their parents.”
And that’s just what NCS has achieved by rebooting its use of Salesforce. “With Salesforce, we can capture a lot more information about our programmes and participants, which enables us to prioritise our resources and tailor our communications,” commented Jeroen Sabbe, Director of Advanced Analytics at NCS.
Personalised journeys improve engagement.
To support its personalisation strategy, NCS has created a number of journeys for both parents and participants using Marketing Cloud. These journeys span multiple channels and nurture young people until they are ready to sign up to a programme. “With Marketing Cloud, we can share the right content at the right time on the right channel to acquire and convert more leads,” explained Romano.
Once a young person has signed up to a programme, NCS uses Marketing Cloud to maintain the engagement and excitement until a programme starts. With personalised journeys and communications, NCS has been able to increase sign-ups by 25% in three years.
NCS achieves more with less advertising spend.
NCS is constantly honing its journeys and communications based on insights revealed by the Salesforce Data Management Platform (DMP) and Einstein Analytics. “We can now make smarter decisions about email frequency and subject lines,” explained Romano.
NCS can also make smarter decisions about where to invest its advertising budget. With DMP, it can segment and target audiences as well as track website visitor behaviour more effectively. As a result, NCS has been able to refine its advertising strategy and make significant savings without impacting lead generation.
Delivering consistent support across multiple channels.
NCS has put social media at the forefront of its customer support operation. It has integrated Service Cloud with Social Studio to enable its agents to respond to queries on key sites, such as Instagram, Twitter, and FaceBook.
The interactions on social media help to shape conversations on other channels as well as online FAQs. “With Salesforce, we can provide a more consistent response to customer queries across multiple channels,” explained Sabbe.
NCS unlocks new insights into partner performance and programme impacts.
Incorporated by Royal Charter, NCS needs to ensure all its programmes and services are delivered efficiently, effectively, and transparently. And that means making sure all its providers meet the same high standards. With Einstein Analytics, NCS can capture and interrogate data from multiple sources to get a better understanding of performance across its partner network.
“With Einstein Analytics, we can track if providers are hitting their targets and monitor the overall health of our programmes on detailed dashboards,” said Jessica Steinemann, Head of Data and Analytics at NCS. “It enables us to share best practices and identify improvement opportunities that help us boost engagement and enrich the experience for programme participants.”
Einstein Analytics has also simplified reporting. For example, NCS has created a suite of interactive dashboards, which enable 100-plus partners to track and analyse their performance without having to manually generate reports. This saves each partner organisation at least half a day a week.
As a nonprofit, measuring impact is a big focus for NCS as it plays a key role in attracting funding and partners. For every £1 it spends, NCS gives back £3.49 worth of proven benefits to society. “By capturing all our performance data centrally in Salesforce, we can report on our impact more easily and accurately,” commented Steinemann. “For example, when we were asked by central government to demonstrate the reach of our programmes it took us just a couple of hours to respond.”
New refund process launched in 14 days.
Providing life-changing experiences for hundreds of young people is complex at the best of times. But things became even more complex for NCS when COVID-19 lockdown measures meant cancelling its entire summer 2020 programme. As a result, the nonprofit needed to process refunds for 60,000 customers – and fast.
With Salesforce, NCS was able to implement an entirely new refund process within 14 days. The process was initiated by email using Marketing Cloud with refund details securely collected via Community Cloud. “With Salesforce, we were able to simplify the refund process and instantly start refunding card payments, with more difficult cash and cheque payments following soon after,” said Romano. Einstein Analytics provided real-time visibility of the refund queue, which could be viewed by customer support agents as well as finance teams.
Helping young people volunteer during pandemic.
As the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions eased, NCS swung back into action. “We wanted to encourage young people to help support local communities and national services as the country adapted to the new normal,” explained Lang. Within weeks, NCS had launched its ‘Keep Doing Good’ programme, which enabled thousands of young people to donate their time during the summer of 2020.
With DMP and Marketing Cloud, it was able to quickly develop targeted communications and journeys to maximise engagement. More than 6,000 young people participated in a range of activities, including volunteering at food banks, registering as blood donors, and even starting their own passion projects.
NCS increases its reach and impact with Salesforce.
NCS doesn’t just want to bring young people together while they are participating in a specific programme; it wants to connect them before and after too. And with Community Cloud, it can make this dream a reality. “We want to help young people build and grow online friendships in a safe environment,” said Romano. “The My NCS community will transform how we engage with parents and participants in the future.”
Launched in November 2019, the My NCS Community has already transformed important steps in the programme onboarding process, for example the submission of medical information. Collecting this highly sensitive information used to be a massive challenge and relied on parents submitting paper-based forms. With Community Cloud, the process has been completely automated – and it’s been a massive hit with parents. Within six days of launching the new online process, 80% of forms had been completed.
For every pound and every minute it saves, NCS can focus more resources on expanding its programmes and reaching more young people. “We are constantly looking for new ways to improve efficiency, so we can increase our impact,” said Lang.
“With Salesforce, we can provide more teenagers with incredible experiences that will help them broaden their horizons and achieve their dreams.”