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NCIC celebrates 25 years of service

The “front door” of ACS never closes on constituents in need.

The American Cancer Society (ACS) contact center, known as the National Cancer Information Center (NCIC), celebrates 25 years of educating and assisting constituents on Jan. 24, 2022. After cancer.org, NCIC is often the first touchpoint, or “front door,” for an individual who contacts ACS. 

Since it opened, NCIC has managed more than 25 million inquiries and has impacted countless lives through its services. 

Here’s a look at how far NCIC has come in its 25 years:

Then

  • Before NCIC, when constituents dialed 1-800-227-2345, there were more than 200 possible places the call could go within 54 divisions. Calls were typically answered by local staff or volunteers. 
  • When NCIC began receiving calls in 1997, the center in Austin, Texas had 10 cancer information specialists (CIS) and one oncology nurse who covered a handful of states. The group was excited but unsure what to expect since no one at ACS had held this type of position. 
  • NCIC staff took all constituent requests like material orders and donations on paper. They referred constituents to listings of programs and services that were typed, printed, and contained in a binder shared among staff. 
  • In the first month NCIC was open, specialists took 720 total calls. By the end of 1998, call volume rose to nearly 90,000 calls per month.

Now

  • NCIC is an entirely virtual operation staffed across the nation, as it has been since 2018 when the center blazed the trail for remote work that continues uninterrupted regardless of the pandemic, local weather emergencies, or other disasters. 
  • Our NCIC team of more than 125 employees in various roles are extensively trained to assist constituents with cancer-related information, programs, and general inquiries. 
  • For managing the increasing complexity of donations, ACS fundraising programs, and volunteer onboarding, a separate Enterprise Customer Support (ECS) team of approximately 50 employees has been created.   
  • Instead of paper, staff utilize Salesforce and procedures in SharePoint for handling inquiries, and when looking for programs and services to help constituents, they search through hundreds of external resources and ACS programs maintained in the online Cancer Resource Connection.
  • Currently, NCIC and ECS take approximately 1,000 calls each weekday and about 200 calls per day on weekends. NCIC and ECS serve constituents across all 50 states, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Guam. 

Our contact center teams continue to make connecting with ACS a better experience for constituents by enhancing our digital service offerings via cancer.org, Blackbaud (event platform), Roundtrip (transportation platform), and other technological solutions. Our ability to tailor digital and personal touch solutions for our constituents will be key in maintaining the world-class customer experience that NCIC and ECS have endeavored to create.

To reach our cancer helpline for assistance 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, constituents may call 1-800-227-2345, or visit cancer.org for chat and video chat during limited hours.

Congratulations to our NCIC & ECS staff, and here’s to 25 more years of making a positive difference one call or chat at a time!

(Photos above show left to right, current NCIC staff in their home offices [including Marie Smith, cancer support specialist; Kim Perez Ochsner, patient resource specialist, Health Insurance Information Service; Michelle Linscomb, enterprise customer support specialist; Angelica Cortez, cancer support specialist]; a former NCIC training room; and a photo of the NCIC CIS training class of 1997.)


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