One of the most impactful ways to boost the effectiveness of an investigative agency is to increase the amount of tips coming into the office.  A well-staffed agency can increase their case resolution statistics proportionally to the number of cases coming into their office.  Even if your agency isn’t able to give as much attention to every case as you’d like, an increase in hotline submissions ensures that your agency has visibility into a wider range of problems, including major ones that would otherwise go uncovered.

Virginia’s Office of the State Inspector General office has had recent success in demonstrating the significant impact an online intake form can have if it’s properly implemented and advertised.  According to Richmond’s local CBS affiliate, the OSIG’s complaints jumped 139% in a single quarter, with a 76% increase in investigations resulting from those hotline submissions. 

What caused this jump? While some of the increase was attributed to better awareness of the agency, one third of all submissions during the third quarter came from a new hotline form available on their website.  “OSIG’s new hotline web form, which allows citizens to report allegations online, has also had a significant impact,” said OSIG Hotline Manager Tim Sadler.

What does an online intake form need to demonstrate this kind of success?  Here are two critical elements of an online intake form:

Make it easy to find – people wanting to submit a complaint through a web form will probably come across that form in one of three ways: through an email or presentation sent to all employees from the investigative office, through the IG’s website, or through a Google search.  In order to maximize your results, you want to present each of these options as often as possible.  Make sure to periodically email employees with information about how to report wrongdoing.  Make sure they know your website address, and make sure the complaint submission form is prominently shown on the home page.  And finally, make sure that your site searches well on Google when people search for your office.

Make it easy to use – There’s strong research to suggest that the percentage of people willing to complete an online form decreases with each piece of data they have to provide.  Unfortunately, this holds true even for complaint submissions.  Make sure that the form doesn’t look so daunting that the user thinks “I’ll have to deal with this later, I don’t have time for this.”  If they weren’t willing to complete the form when it was on top of their mind it’s unlikely they’ll come back to complete it later.

To learn more about how WingSwept can improve hotline submissions through the CMTS Online Intake Service, call us at 919-600-5102 or email