The Department of Employment Services of a large US state combined conversational AI and campaign-driven callbacks to handle an unprecedented volume of inquiries triggered by COVID and improve its agent productivity.
The department of a large state responsible for employment services and unemployment benefits became overwhelmed with citizen inquiries when COVID hit.
The number of unemployment claims jumped 10x, saturating the center with hundreds of thousands of daily calls, exceeding the capacity of its 600-agent contact center.
The Department wanted to implement deflection to selfservice and shift inquiries to the web as much as possible while remaining accessible to citizens who still want to talk to a live person by offering the option of being called back.
The department deployed a virtual assistant using Google Contact Center AI on the web and in the Cisco Interactive Voice Response (IVR).
It switched to an “outbound” mode of operation, proposing to callback inquiries that cannot be served by the virtual assistant or people wanting to speak with a person.
SMS messages provide confirmation and updates on callback requests, preventing repeat calls from citizens in an undue hardship.
All callback requests are grouped by type and processed at scale through Acqueon’s campaign management.
Interactions became more predictable and faster to handle by agents who no longer need to hop from one type to another.
The AI virtual assistant was taught to process and respond to a large set of unemployment benefits requests, reaching coverage of 75% of inquiries and allowing the department to save an estimated $100M annually.
The contact center, reformatted to operate from inbound to outbound, was able to increase its daily call volume by 20% with the same number of agents and is expecting an incremental 18% efficiency gain by further optimizing grouping and assignment of interactions.
Using SMS notifications to confirm the callback and provide updates made the callback process more transparent and reduced the stress of customers in hardship. This decreased repeat calls and improved their experience.
The use of a campaign manager has allowed the department to process callbacks at scale, ensuring in particular that callbacks that don’t get through are automatically recycled so that all calls are returned.