Frequently Asked Question

How to set up the yap helpline system for your area
Last Updated 10 months ago

Yap is a helpline system specifically written for NA. It lets you manage a pool of volunteers who are willing to answer phone calls, and routes calls to volunteers. It also has an automated system for doing meeting searches that can then both read out and text the results to the caller. Since it is integrated with BMLT, the meeting information is based on the current information in the BMLT database.

The regional PI subcommittee decided to help areas that want to use yap by paying for their yap phone service, and helping them get accounts set up and porting their existing helpline numbers to yap.  (Our experience is that yap will be much cheaper than systems like Grasshopper or FreedomVoice.) There are general directions for using yap on these pages:

For our region, however, the process is simpler because the region will get the number set up.  So here are directions tailored specifically to WNIRNA.

  1. Send an email to helpline@wnirna.org and say that you're interested in moving your area helpline to yap. If you want to experiment with it first, try calling the helpline for one of the areas in our region that is already using it (for example West Puget Sound Area or Seattle Area).  Get it to read some meeting information to you, and try calling a volunteer to see how it works from the caller's perspective. We can also get a test number set up for you if you want to do additional testing, but at this point we've got enough areas using it that yap is pretty much a known system
  2. If you are willing to get a new helpline number, that is easy.  Most areas will want to port their existing helpline numbers though, which is alas a bit involved.  To do this, gather the needed information (see https://wszf.org/zonal-bmlt/helpline-support/#porting) and send it to helpline@wnirna.org.  The region will then submit the port request.  At that time we'll also provision a temporary test number for you so that you can make sure everything is working before the port is completed. 
  3. Get yap ready.  To do this, log in to yap at the following URL using your area's BMLT login: https://bmlt.wszf.org/yap/admin.  Note that the zone supports a standard set of yap configurations, to keep upgrades sane.  The directions that follow are for this standard configuration.
  4. Click "Service Bodies" on the navigation bar at the top, then click "Call Handling". 
    1. For Helpline Routing, pick Volunteers.
    2. For Gender Routing, pick Disabled.
    3. For Call Strategy, pick Blasting, then Voicemail.  This is how calls are routed to volunteers - with this setting, when a call comes in, all the available volunteers are called at the same time, and the first one who answers takes the call.  If someone else picks up afterward, they get a message saying someone else has the call.  If nobody calls, it goes to voicemail.
    4. Fill in the Primary Contact Number, and Primary Contact Email. You can do this later if you don't have the information handy when you are doing the initial configuration.
    5. Leave the Music On Hold, Recorded Greeting, and Voice Mail Greeting blank for now.  (You can change these later if you want, for example to have a recording of a person answering the line rather than a mechanical voice.  West Puget Sound Area for example has a recorded greeting if you want to hear what it sounds like.)
    6. Click Save Changes.
  5. Now click "Configure".
    1. Click the +, then pick "title" from the list.  Type in the information you'd like yap to read out to callers (for example "Seattle Area Narcotics Anonymous").
    2. There are lots of other configuration options, but that's the only one you should override to use the standard (supported) configuration.  The other options get inherited from the region's configuration.
  6. Fill in some volunteers who will be available to answer calls.  To do this, go to the Volunteers tab, click Add Volunteer, and fill in the person's name and phone number.  Select the shifts that they are willing to be called. If they have a cell phone, select "Phone + SMS" for the type so that they get a text when a call comes in. Also be sure to check the "enabled" box, and at the top click "Save Volunteers" before going to another page. (Unfortunately the yap interface will let you navigate away without saving, which would mean you'd lose the edits.) Pick one or two volunteers to be Responders (see the voicemail item below for more on what this means).
  7. You can see the volunteer schedule by picking "Schedules" at the top. If you have someone who wants to be temporarily off the volunteer list, you can uncheck the "enabled" box next to their name and then click "save volunteers".
  8. About voicemails: if someone leaves a voicemail, all volunteers who are designated as responders and who are active on a shift at that time will get a text containing a link to play back the voicemail.  You can also access the voicemails at any time from the yap website by going to Service Bodies, then picking Voicemails.  This also has a Delete button to remove voicemails that you've answered.  Our experience is that most voicemails are empty -- nobody picked up the call and the person calling decided not to leave a voicemail.  Never return these calls!  You don't know if they want a call back from NA, or whether they were using someone else's phone.  Only call back if there is an actual voicemail requesting a callback. If you have more than one responder, come up with some way to let the other people know when a call has been returned. If you do call back, we recommend calling as the helpline number rather than your personal number. To do this, just click the dial back link that yap will send to you in a text.

Finally, we have an older video available of a yap demo done for the region. (It isn’t linked publicly since it includes NA members in it, but if you want to show it to your area, send a note to IT Services.) At some point hopefully we'll make a new video showing how to do all the above things.

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