It seemed like a good idea to have Family and Adult Assistance Section 3 clients call HCJFS for their reapplication interview instead of making workers track them down. But it turns out it’s not a good idea, it’s a great one.
In fact, the pilot project in the FAA Generic Super Bank – intended to last two months, with half the clients calling in – worked so well that after the first month, the section switched to the call-in mode for all clients. The change means fewer pending cases, less worker time spent on trying to track folks down and significantly reduced hold times. With the 1,177 call-ins in February, the average wait time for a worker to pick up the phone was just 23 seconds. The Super Bank houses approximately 48,000 public assistance cases and schedules, on average, 300 interviews per day.
FAA 3 Section Chief Kevin Brewer presented the plan in Columbus at the March Metro 10 Meeting and other counties are interested in copying Hamilton County.
“I’m saying this is the best customer service initiative we’ve ever done,” Brewer said. “Hands down.”
The agency wanted to go in this direction “for some time,” said Tim McCartney, HCJFS’ chief operating officer and Brewer’s supervisor. “ When I challenged Kevin to get this change up and running in early 2014, he was a bit skeptical that it could happen. However, as Kevin always does, he put his head down, got with his team and put together a comprehensive plan to get it done.”
Before this change, the agency relied on consumers due for their annual reapplication interview to provide any address or phone number changes. The biggest challenge prior to the implementation of the call-in model was having a good phone number to reach the consumer. With the new process, it does not matter where the consumer calls from, as long as they continue to reside in Hamilton County.
Starting on Feb. 3, half the consumers who needed to reapply received a new reapplication packet designed by the agency with instructions to call HCJFS. The other half got the packet that told them the agency would be calling and when. Brewer and McCartney planned the hybrid pilot project to make sure the phone system and call-in queues worked correctly and that Brewer’s five managers and 27 workers had time to adjust to the new method.
They did. Everything worked so well that as of March 3, all consumers in FAA 3 will be scheduled for call-in interviews from now on.
“Kevin and FAA 3 Staff and Managers did such a great job the first month we decided to go ahead and skip the second month of piloting and go to an all call-in mode,” McCartney said. “It’s been tremendously successful, is a tribute to Kevin and his staff, and a model other counties will likely want to copy.”