The Shutdown and the Storm: CXone Provides a Welcome Tool for the State of Michigan

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Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Integrated Services Delivery (IDS) is the state agency that manages the entire process for benefits administration — from application and qualification through delivery.

Although the state of Michigan maintains 14 different contact centers for different agencies, DHHS/IDS didn’t have a dedicated contact center. Instead, approximately 5,000 caseworkers around the state interacted individually with a group of assigned residents — a time-intensive and often frustrating process that involved many missed phone connections and voicemail messages.

However, a move to NICE inContact’s cloud CX call center software now is streamlining these processes and communications. A “virtual” contact center enables up to 10% of caseworkers to tie in to the phone system and spend dedicated time with residents while others do paperwork and other tasks. Roles are switched, according to a schedule.

The CX platform has transformed the entire benefits process for both caseworkers and residents, who now have immediate access and answers to their questions. There is also growing use of the cloud technology’s new self-service features in the interactive voice response (IVR) — another way for callers to quickly get the information they need and for caseworkers to increase their efficiency.

In January-February 2019, with 50 counties and 24%of the state’s population having self-service access, two major events tested the system: the federal government shutdown and an unusually frigid stretch of weather.

In these situations, changing routing and IVR messaging as well as ramping up capacity enabled residents to quickly get the information they needed and their benefits — and in the case of the cold snap, get priority access to state offices to keep their utilities on.

While the rollout continues to the rest of the state of Michigan’s counties, one of the program’s objectives is being achieved: building use of self-service in the IVR by callers — both to improve service and to offload routine questions from caseworkers so they can focus their efforts on critical priorities and services.

Early reports show a promising volume increase, and surveys about CXone ECHO customer satisfaction confirm that the majority of callers welcomes self-service as an option.