Skip to main content
Critical Responsive Efficient Powerful

IRENA, the intelligent virtual contact centre

Empowering NGOs to help Ukrainian refugees

 The population displacement arising from the Russia-Ukraine conflict strained NGO capacity to handle and respond to calls for help. Built on Cloud, a Deloitte contact centre solution helped NGOs scale their contact centres and support thousands of Ukrainians across Europe.

In a crisis, time is one of the most valuable commodities. When Russian military forces invaded Ukraine in February 2022, it triggered a mass movement of millions of men, women, and children attempting to avoid the violence and find safety elsewhere in the country and beyond its borders. Almost overnight, neighbouring nations and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) realised an urgent need to provide timely, accurate information and to support the huge influx of people, many of whom left their homes with little more than what they could carry. 

With more than seven million Ukrainian refugees across Europe and millions more displaced within Ukraine, IGOs, NGOs, and governments faced a threefold challenge: they needed to provide vital information to refugees; they had to do so as fast as possible; and they had to succeed despite limited human and technology resources, relative to the size of the refugee populations.

Deploying the solution, IRENA

The NGOs that sought to deliver aid to refugees learned that when a displaced person would call for help, the majority of the requests were topically similar. Ukrainians were seeking translations, accommodation, legal support, and asking common questions. 

Considering how quickly the situation escalated, it was determined that a scalable contact centre had to be deployed rapidly. The team at Deloitte Prague launched an effective tool within days. The cloud-based, browser-accessible Immediate Refugee Need Assistance (IRENA) solution went live using automated calling and messaging, and provided support systems for ticketing, reporting, and analytics across multiple channels (e.g., phone, browser, and mobile text applications).

 IRENA’s self-service and dynamic content delivery functionality allows common issues to be addressed while the solution’s speech recognition voicebot can receive and return vital information in a multitude of languages and dialects. If the caller’s requests cannot be addressed automatically, the caller is transferred to a human operator for more support. 

This fast and efficient tool is now managing thousands of calls across many geographic areas, while it streamlines and improves the organisation’s capacity to track cases for continuous support and improvement. And, because the solution is browser-accessible, human operators can work from anywhere, greatly expanding the pool of volunteers who are ready to help but unable to staff a physical call centre.

A scalable solution for a range of industries

While IRENA continues to help organisations support displaced people in need, its capabilities and value are not limited to these early deployments. The success showed how combining virtual contact centres, task management systems, and automated speech recognition can enable new contact centre solutions to be built from scratch or the fast upscaling of an existing contact centre, all in a matter of weeks.

The critical ingredient in an abundance of options is Deloitte’s domain and subject matter expertise, which helps an organisation design a solution, implement it, train the human workforce, and analyse metrics for continuous improvement. While IRENA does not require integration with existing systems, it has the capacity to do so. 

Looking ahead, IRENA has valuable applications across a range of industries, including use cases such as: call management and announcements from communities and organisations during a crisis; automating interactive communication with alerts, reminders, or promotions; and helping healthcare organisations onboard patients, complete paperwork, set up appointments, and manage information securely.

The potential use cases are vast, and Deloitte and our ecosystem of partners can help develop the technology stack for today’s scalable and agile contact centres. With leading practices and out-of-the-box integration, we know how to expedite your contact centre transformation and time to value.

"We built the virtual contact centre solution over the weekend, enabling all incoming calls and messages from people in need to be routed to one spot. Volunteers could connect from anywhere to respond, and we automated most of the frequently asked questions.

IRENA was implemented for free in 10 organisations in Poland, Czechia and Slovakia, helping over 10,000 people per day between March and April.

"David Schopf, Senior Consultant, Intelligent Automation, Deloitte

About OPU

The Organisation for Aid to Refugees (OPU) was established in Prague, Czech Republic, in 1991. It is a non-profit, humanitarian organisation registered by the Ministry of the Interior as a civil association since 28 November 1991. Over the past ten years OPU has gradually gained sound expertise in matters related to the needs of asylum-seekers in the Czech Republic and their families.

“If the situation worsens and new refugees come in the winter, we can easily activate IRENA again.”

Ludmila Bobysudová, Deputy Director, Organisation for Aid to Refugees (OPU)

“When NGOs collaborate with the business world and combine forces to help each other, beautiful things can be created, such as IRENA.”

Beáta Máthéová, former laywer at OPU, now a consultant at Deloitte

Fast onboarding and scale on demand

Quick time to value

  • 12 NGOs from 5 countries onboarded within 5 weeks
  • 170 contact centre volunteers equipped with the tools to help
  • 24/7 support by providing answers and escalating cases even when no human operator is available
  • Managing 10,000 daily calls at onse

Always evolving 

  • Drive continuous improvement by updating scenarios and workflows in response to changing caller needs
  • Functions without system integration but is API friendly and can be integrated with existing solutions
  • Over time, dramatically increase calls addressed with automation and save the most challenging calls for human operator

Capacity to scale

  • The Cloud enables the ability to rapidly scale in minutes in response to increased call volumes
  • The low-code platform and browser accessibility allows contact centre operators to dive in and focus not on the technology but on the person seeking help

Key contact