Elizabeth Daigneau is GOVERNING's managing editor.E-mail: email@example.com
As unemployment has reached record levels over the past few years, so has demand for public services. Nationwide, the poor economy has led to an increased need for unemployment insurance, food stamps and more. To better meet those demands, improve customer service goals and enhance operational efficiency, call centers in several state labor departments have turned to an innovative new technology that allows callers to receive a callback without waiting on hold or losing their place in the phone queue. Government Technology, Governing's sister publication, recently reported that "virtual queuing" helped the Washington State Employment Security Department "reduce its phone bill by about $500,000 in the first year of implementation," and cut the amount time unemployment claimants spent on hold by about 15 million minutes. The department also reported that about 75 percent of callers chose to receive a callback, and on average received the return call after about 20 minutes. New York state and the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) have also implemented virtual queuing, which helps agencies balance phone volumes, provide quality customer service and save money. CalPERS saw its phone bill cut by a third in "just part of the fiscal year."