Changing Our Culture: Making JFS a More Inviting, Helpful place

by Moira Weir, Director
Hamilton County Job & Family Services

October 2019

In late 2018/early 2019, Hamilton County Job and Family Services experienced a significant increase in call volume into the main customer phone line (946-1000). In addition to the increase in volume, HCJFS was receiving a large number of complaints about wait times and poor service. 

In 2018, the average caller could expect to wait about 25 minutes to speak with staff; some callers waited up to 50 minutes. 41% of callers would hang up before speaking with staff.

In March 2019, HCJFS set goals to reduce caller abandonment rates from 41% to under 20%, and to decrease average caller wait time from 30 minutes to under 10 minutes. HCJFS achieved both of those goals by May 2019 and has been working to maintain this success, despite daily call volume continuing to rise.

HCJFS is also focusing on improving customer service and quality of information. 

To achieve this goal, HCJFS made staff, scheduling, and monitoring changes to the call center. Some changes included:  

  • The call center supervisor was over-leveraged with too many responsibilities and didn’t have the time to devote to managing the call center; the additional responsibilities were removed and re-allocated to other managers with capacity.  
  • Call center staff were able to schedule their own lunch breaks, which often left the call center short staffed through the busy lunch hours. Lunch breaks were scheduled to ensure coverage.  
  • Team meetings were held to discuss the changes and why they were important to good business operations, as well as the impact on the customers.  
  • Call center staff were provided with additional training to help with the quality of information being given to customers.  
  • A back up “Bat-call” system was implemented to pull resources from other units when the call center experienced a volume increase OR when the call center staff held staff meetings or group trainings.  
  • Some new staff were added to the call center team.

As of September 2019, the average caller can expect to wait about 5 minutes to speak with staff. On the busiest days/times, the longest the average caller will wait is about 16 minutes. Mondays and days after holidays are the busiest days in the call center.

The impact of these improvements for the customer are outlined in the attached document. To summarize: more calls answered, wait times less, fewer calls abandoned. Customers saved about:  

  • 56,194.36 minutes or  
  • 936.57 hours or  
  • 39 days

Because of the success of this project, Hamilton County Job and Family Services decided to send four more employees to ImpactU. Those four employees (Melissa Graves, Judy Leonard, Ellen McCartney and Jane Huesman) are concentrating on the following projects:  

  • Lobby Customer Service Improvement: The goal is to reduce wait times and improve the overall experience for customers in the first-floor lobby, making it more efficient and friendly.  
  • Nursing home applications: The goal is to apply theory and real-life data to the internal process of processing nursing home applications, improving timeliness.  
  • Children’s Services staffing: The goal is to evaluate the hiring process and streamline it so candidates are through the process and managing cases in a more timely manner.  
  • School attendance among foster children: This project’s goal is to improve attendance for children in agency custody and Independent Living status by examining the factors that contribute to non-attendance and mitigating or eliminating barriers.


Related Stories: