Refernet is a perfect fit for Citizens Advice.
Purpose built for Advice in the UK
A referral system for Citizens Advice
Refernet was designed and built as a digital platform for local Advice Centres primarily to accept digital referrals sent from approved external advice partners. This networking formula works particularly well with Citizens Advice. Referrals can also be sent out by CAs to external advice partners, and indeed (with permissions) referrals can be made between any partner organisations within the network.
A number of Refernet networks, primarily run by Citizens Advice, are fully or partly funded by network partners, such as their local Council.
Solving a problem
Refernet has over many years successfully proven it is possible to bring a multi-partner referral solution into the third sector. By providing a secure, common referral platform, centred around the digital transfer and tracking of each referral, this also helps reduce stress for customers, brings accountability with auditable results across a wide range of types of help.
This in turn helps underpin existing and future funding for every type of advice organisation.
It goes without saying, that Refernet can’t build a referral partner network on its own. The system works best when there are network ‘advocates’ who take on the role of inviting partner agencies and organisations to take part. The most successful Refernet networks have someone in this role. Typically a Refernet ‘System Advocate’ will involve themselves with:
• Invitations: Prospective partners need to be invited in, explaining its simplicity and the fact that all agencies can refer to each other, and all on an equal basis. (each agency system has exactly the same functionality as every other).
• Training: The system is known for ease of use, but getting started does sometimes need Advocate support. There will be a primary user for each Agency who should take on this role, but it may take a while to get their team thinking ‘Refernet’ every time they want to refer to you, or to another agency in the network.
Refernet users may want to see outcomes across a network of Agencies and can define the sets of outcomes they want the system to report on. Simplicity is key. This extends to adjusting the referral form (which is editable) to keep the information required in the network to a minimum – less key work for the user, and they are more likely to use the form.
Any system is more likely to be used when those accessing it have the the simplest possible tasks. System Admin’s can always add more information fields later if needed, once the user base is familiar with what to do. Our experience of networks suggests it is better to start with a light touch, than asking too much of the network early on.
Remember that this is a referral system, not a case management system.
Why choose Rerfenet?
- Refernet is independently owned, and is often seen as a ’neutral’ platform for a wide range of advice partner organisations, who are cautious of sharing data online.
- Being outside of the hub-bub and ‘politics’ means Refernet helps create a level playing field amongst competing agencies. Providing a third party system like Refernet is a benefit to achieving the all important “buy-in”, particularly with the larger charities and bigger organisations.
- True neutrality creates the effect of equality – and agencies in a Refernet network (big and small) can refer between each other – not just to-or-from the owner’s agency.
- Local council funding is widespread amongst many Refernet networks, often making it affordable to use within that network. In some regions Refernet is being recharged at more than the cost of the system, generating valuable profit for the core Advice Agency group running the system.
- Refernet is proven to pay for itself, and has been doing so for many years, reliably and securely.
- Refernet is built to do just referral, and is simple to use.