Behavioural insights


Consumer Affairs Victoria - transitioning helpline callers to online


Consumer Affairs Victoria (CAV) answered almost 350,000 calls in 2015/16 providing information and advice to Victorian consumers and businesses. At the same time almost 3.5 million visitors accessed the CAV website to resolve their query. Often these phone enquiries can be resolved more efficiently through the CAV website. CAV sought to ‘nudge’ consumers to their website, to decrease consumer reliance on the telephone helpline.

Behavioural insight

Four BI concepts were recommended for incorporation within the telephone helpline’s script, to ‘nudge’ consumers to use the CAV website instead:

1) Inform people that most others already use the website

2) Keep it simple and repeat the message

3) Appeal to a relevant authority

4) Change the cost benefit


Two new phone helpline scripts based on BI concepts were tested, and both were successful. The rate at which callers hung-up increased by almost 50 per cent. Callers who heard the new phone scripts hung-up close to 17 per cent of the time, compared to nearly 12 per cent who heard the original script.  

Callers were equally likely to hang up in the first fifteen seconds of all three message. However, after the first fifteen seconds it was much more likely that a caller would hang up during either of the BI-informed scripts, see Figure 1. Specifically, callers were more likely to hang up immediately after hearing that “this helpline can be very busy” or being told about the CAV website. This suggests that callers were responding to the BI concepts of changing the cost benefit, keeping it simple and repeating the message.

Figure 1: Proportion of callers who abandoned their call to the CAV helpline, by time of hang-up

Graph showing the proportion of callers who abandoned their call to the CAV helpline, by time of hang-up

Source: CAV data. Note: The proportion of callers who hung up during the original message sums to 11.77 per cent, during the first script sums to 17.56 per cent, and during the second script sums to 17.35 per cent.


The CAV phone helpline is a strong example of applying BI and testing to learn what works. The changes CAV made demonstrated a small but noticeable impact for people accessing the helpline.