That was just the kind of functionality the Department of Veterans Affairs was looking for when it implemented a new call center in its southern region.
VA’s eighth Veterans Integrated Services Network, or VISN 8, serves 1.5 million veterans in Florida, Georgia, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. Its phone system couldn’t offer the kind of 24/7 clinical support administrators wanted, and regional officials wanted something better.
The new clinical contact center “was a way to provide that full 24/7 coverage, and it added additional features to ensure that all veterans had the same access to care,” says Tiy Sanchez, chief of the Health Administration Service in the VISN 8 Clinical Contact Center.
“They don’t have to walk into a facility, they can do it from the comfort of their home,” Sanchez says. “It increased that access to care, especially during our COVID-19 response, where we were supplementing support to our sites.”
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USDA Uses Collaboration Tools for Customer Service
Key technologies involved in the effort were Cisco Finesse, a next-generation agent and supervisor desktop designed to provide a collaborative customer service experience; and Cisco Jabber, a collaboration solution.
“Cisco Jabber is the software that essentially takes a desktop phone and puts it digitally on your computer, so you no longer have a physical phone -sitting on your desk. You’ve got a digital keypad on your computer, and it syncs up with Cisco Finesse,” says Peter Wills, pharmacy chief at the VISN 8 Clinical Contact Center.
Cisco Finesse, in turn, “allows us to queue our veterans into different categories based on the services they need,” Wills says.
“If they need scheduling, they would go into the scheduling queue. If they need pharmacy services, they go into the pharmacy,” he says. “We’re even able to break it down by language; for example, for our Spanish-speaking caregivers or veterans. That allows us to keep up when our staff are most needed, when queue times are heaviest.”
In a similar effort, the USDA leveraged tools from Verint Systems to upgrade its AskUSDA contact center, along with Salesforce call center CRM capabilities, Cisco telephony tools and Tableau for the dashboard.
“AskUSDA leverages several key enterprise tools, such as customer-relationship management tools, data visualization and dashboarding tools, interactive voice response tools, and feedback and artificial intelligence tools,” says Suveyke-Bogin.
A customer service application also lets AskUSDA combine case management, a knowledge database, surveying tools, insightful analytics and a well-designed website for a seamless experience.
AskUSDA dashboards enable administrators to analyze -interactions, operational metrics and survey data to elevate actionable insights to help program leadership make data-driven decisions.
“The AskUSDA site was launched to deliver a centralized contact center and knowledge management base that offers customer service and consistent -information for the public,” says Suveyke-Bogin. “AskUSDA assures USDA’s many customers — farmers, researchers, travelers, parents and more — have efficient access to the information and resources they need.”
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The Crucial Role of Timing a Technology Advancement
Analysts say that recent advances in call center technology make this an ideal time to consider upgrading.
“There was some skepticism and a lag in adoption, but the technologies themselves are mature, the accuracy of speech recognition is very high, and it’s married to more accurate recognition of intent,” Miller says.
“Government contact center admins should be evaluating their options right now,” he adds.