State officials are touting improvements to ACCESS Nebraska; improvements which avoided a stiff federal penalty and should satisfy a lawsuit against the state.
Health and Human Services CEO Courtney Phillips says it took a number of steps to improve the system which helps Nebraskans get state services. One of the steps was being selective about who took telephone calls.
“Our turnover was extremely high in the call center,” Phillips tells reporters during a news conference at the Lincoln Call Center. “And so now we’ve done a much better job in terms of recruitment of team members and also the retention of those team members.”
Trainers make sure employees are ready to get right on the calls, according to Phillips.
The federal government threatened to pull $17 million from Nebraska and a lawsuit was filed over how slowly the state processed applications for federal services, including for food stamps. A lawsuit was filed against the state, because of its poor performance. The federal government dropped the threat and the state expects the lawsuit to be dropped as well.
Ricketts says Nebraskans once had to wait 24 minutes for the call center to answer the phone. Now, calls are taken within three-and-a-half minutes.
Ricketts says everyone involved took a hard look at what hung up the process.
“By looking at the process, the team was able to figure out how can we do a better job so that we can make sure we’re ready to answer the calls, cut down on the number of calls coming in, move the work back and worth, flex team members back and forth, when we see high call volume,” Ricketts says. “All those sort of things which are really standard process improvement in any kind of call center.”
Phillips credits everyone in the Division of Children and Family Services for coming together to resolve the problems.
“And you really had everyone coming to the table to understand what were the factors that were impeding our success,” Phillips says. “It wasn’t just looking at just the call center. It really was understanding every element a team member said was causing an issue, every element individuals that we serve brought up in the focus group; we brought those individuals to the table and said okay, here are the issues, we need everyone to come to the table to help resolve that.”