Speech Technology Magazine

Genesys Helps Michigan Put Kids First

Call center technology assures timely access to child support and other services for parents in need.
By Leonard Klie - Posted Nov 10, 2014
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Michigan has the third highest number of child support cases in the United States, but until recently, many needy single-parent families in the state were being denied child support, public assistance, and other benefits through no fault of their own. Custodial parents are required to file for child support, but an out-of-date customer contact center system used by the state's Office of Child Support kept many calls from getting through in a timely fashion. Delays in case establishment meant that client families were often short on funds for bills, rent, food, and daily necessities.

The Office of Child Support, which falls under the auspices of the Michigan Department of Human Services, was only able to process about 55 percent of its incoming calls. As with many government agencies, the Office of Child Support's workload has increased as its workforce has decreased, prompting the realization that it needed to do business differently.

"We were not setting our employees up to succeed," says Monica Bowman, the agency's director of operations. "It was unbearable."

In January 2014, the agency deployed the Genesys Customer Experience Platform, and since then the delay and desperation that had previously been hallmarks of its customer experience have been replaced by timely, productive interactions with the agency's 90 caseworkers.

Where callers previously were required to leave voicemail messages that might not have been responded to for weeks, now they always reach a live person, Bowman says. The amount of time they have to wait in the call queue is typically about five minutes.

"We went through a transformation," Bowman says. "We removed a lot of the barriers that we were experiencing and moved to a new business model that allows us to process all of our cases more efficiently."

Central to that transformation was getting rid of the 12-year-old interactive voice response system from FirstData, which Bowman says was little more than an automatic call distributor. "It was old, antiquated technology," she states. "It was miserable for our customers and our caseworkers."

The FirstData system also required caseworkers to access and process overwhelming amounts of paperwork. Support specialists could spend 90 minutes or more per day cleaning out voicemail inboxes and listening to and transcribing the messages.

That system has been replaced with the Genesys Customer Experience Platform, a secure, flexible call center software solution that integrates self-service applications and caseworker-assisted transactions. Included in the platform are a natural language interface, customer interaction management, analytics and reporting, workforce optimization, self-service capabilities, a routing engine, and presence and visibility.

At the same time, the Office of Child Support brought in Genesys Interactive Voice Response to improve real-time customer service and Genesys Advisor to provide caseworkers with resource management and coherent and useful answers, enabling them to take immediate action. The Genesys Survey Solution measures customer satisfaction by polling callers about their experiences at the conclusion of their calls, and Genesys Interactive Insights helps the agency continuously gain knowledge to keep improving its processes.

"These were things that Genesys offered that were considered a high priority here," Bowman says.

The technology, she adds, now "is an enabler" rather than a hindrance.

But it was only one part of the equation. Also included were changes in business processes that resulted in the development of functional caseworkers who now share the caseloads evenly.

Results have been positive. "Previously, I would get at least one complaint per day," Bowman says. Or worse yet, callers who were 

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