Kaizen Event: Hangin' on a Call Lookin' for a Live Body


Impact Statement: 
El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency used a Kaizen event to improve customer satisfaction and reduce labor time in the County “request for information” process. The results of the project mean better and faster information to the incoming caller, so they can make more informed decisions, and at the same time, reduce the amount of labor required by the County staff. The team used a kaizen event to understand the problem, identify issues and their root causes, develop, test, and begin installing the solutions in one week. To achieve the improvements, the process was redesigned to eliminate recycle loops, wait time and other wastes, and key process aids were developed such as a) listing of information Subject Matter Experts (primary and secondary), b) standardized work for answering phone requests, c) “warm transfer” process for not having the customer wait or the call lost, d) internal service level agreements for returning customer calls, e) key information to the county website added for self service, and f) clarified and simplified the phone tree. Some of the results were(1) increased warm transfers from 28% to 62% (exceeding event goal of 50%); (2) increased calls returned within 1 day from 5% to 98% (exceeding event goal of 70%); (3)Increased calls completed within one transfer from 11% to 72% (event goal of 80%); and (4) decreased call times that were greater than 3 minutes from 30% to 12% (event goal of 15%).

El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency is the result of a recent merge between the county’s Health Services Department (Public Health and Mental Health) and Human Services Department (Community Services and Social Services). As with any merger, there have been changes in staffing and organizational structure, blending of overlapping services, and relocation of programs. As part of assessing the new role public health plays in the agency, agency staff observed a lack of knowledge among all levels of public health staff about what services are offered, and by whom, both within public health and by the agency as a whole. This problem is compounded by the increased number of phone calls to Public Health regarding services and information about programs provided by the agency. Data collected from a 7-day phone call audit showed that, on average, the on-call employees and front-end staff each receive approximately 30 calls per week from the public inquiring about programs and services the agency provides. On average, each phone call lasted 3 minutes, and callers had to be transferred three times on average before reaching the appropriate subject matter expert (SME). Public Health staff have openly expressed concern with their ability to provide the inquiring public with an efficient and seamless referral to the appropriate service. The goal of this quality improvement (QI) initiative was to improve the process of obtaining knowledge about agency programs and services and to provide more efficient information assistance to the public. The agency believes that to truly enhance the quality of life for its patrons, staff need to create an atmosphere that allows patrons to feel that for almost any issue and at any one of the 11 initial points of contact, they have come to the right place.

Organization that conducted the QI initiative: 
El Dorado County Health and Human Services Agency

Byron-Cooper, O. Public Health Quality Improvement Exchange. Kaizen Event: Hangin' on a Call Lookin' for a Live Body. Mon, 04/06/2015 - 10:09. Available at https://www.phqix.org/content/kaizen-event-hangin-call-lookin-live-body. Accessed May 23, 2024.

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