Phase-Out Prompts Phone System Upgrade
The phone systems used by the Labor Department’s Division of Employment Security underwent an upgrade in early November. The former phone system was adequate to handle former call volumes (approx. 50,000 calls per month in 2008), but could not keep up with current call volumes (approx. 140,000 calls per month).
In July, when Congress passed the last extension of federal benefits, the phone lines were overwhelmed with claimants who needed to speak to a claims representative to assist in getting their claim handled. Because of the influx of calls, some callers received a message stating the number was no longer in service, which was incorrect.
With current federal legislation requiring these benefits to expire at the end of November, call centers are gearing up for another flood of calls. To assist them in serving the residents of Missouri, the Labor Department has installed a new phone system capable of handling a higher call volume. While the old system could only handle three calls per second, the new system can handle as many as 14 calls per second. Additionally, 90 phone lines were added to the existing 300 lines, to allow for an increased number of calls to be handled simultaneously.
The most exciting feature of the new phone system is the capability of allowing callers to receive a courtesy call-back instead of waiting on hold. Claimants who do not want to wait on hold on the line have the option to enter their 10-digit telephone number to then receive a call-back when it is time for them to speak with a claims representative.
“I think we’ve all experienced the frustration of being on hold,” said Department of Labor IT Director Jason Volkart. “Whether it’s walking around your house with that phone stuck to your ear, it’s very frustrating. This call-back feature will allow them to go on about their normal life, and then receive that call-back. It’s going to eliminate a lot of cell phone minutes that claimants may be using, its going to eliminate toll-free charges for the state of Missouri. There are just a lot of benefits to this new system.”