Bringing Cohesion and Efficiency to Ohio Public Assistance Delivery

Performing Application Development and Maintenance Transition

Setting the Stage

A sprawling system that reaches more than three million citizens, Ohio’s public assistance programs were hindered by legacy systems, a lack of cohesion, and inconsistent practices that made case workers’ very difficult work exponentially more challenging. Bringing local administrations together to increase capability collectively and collaboratively without interfering with autonomy presented a complex problem of coordination, planning, and technical insight.

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The Problem

Maintaining a consistent customer service experience across public assistance agencies and Ohio’s 88 counties created a challenge made even more difficult because of wide variations in technology. A State-hosted, centralized contact center would provide greater opportunities for self-service, standardized responses and eligibility services, and seamless reporting capabilities for programs serving more than three million residents.

The state enlisted KSM Consulting to design and implement its Enterprise Contact Center (ECC) as part of the Ohio Benefits project, an integrated eligibility and modernization project for Ohio’s public assistance programs.

The Approach

Coordinating a large-scale solution that met the needs of three major state agencies and served a vast constituency across 88 counties (and 88 independent departments of Job and Family Services) relied on a clear communication plan and meticulous project management. Frequent check-ins, upfront feedback, and informative status updates created a team environment that was essential for keeping the project on track and resolving issues.

Our team brought project management expertise to technical development, testing, training, and implementation rollouts, making sure these monumental business and technical changes across 77 participating organizations would eventually serve stakeholder needs—and reach not just completion but integration into service delivery.

Project Summary

Our team performed application development and maintenance transition planning for Ohio’s enterprise contact center platform, designed for 24/7/365 operations. Built on the state’s hosted Enterprise Cisco Platform (UCCE/HCS), the ECC is a virtual contact center that supports County Shared Services, a collaborative model of service delivery that provides timely and flexible services to more than 3,000,000 Medicaid, SNAP, and TANF recipients across the state.

The Outcome

To meet Ohio’s service delivery concerns, our team’s expertise in contact center operations, design, development, testing, and training drove a full system-development lifecycle toward a more efficient system that better-served customers and utilized resources across several departments.

  • The state’s shared services operational model is now modernized and standardized, utilizing contact center telephony, and business process re-engineering (BPR) to function cohesively.
  • All participating counties (77 of 88; 11 counties opted out) are live on the platform, which has proven to be scalable across a broad range of counties from small rural areas to large metropolitan cities.
  • Approximately 70% of the 2 million+ annual calls regarding benefit applications and renewals receive a real-time eligibility determination.
  • Telephonic audio signatures are captured, thus eliminating the need for back-and-forth paper applications.
  • Improved efficiencies have freed workers to focus on high-touch / high-need cases.
  • Streamlined and standardized customer service builds goodwill and trust, deploys benefits efficiently, and enables more effective resource utilization.
  • An interactive voice recognition (IVR) capability expands customer self-service for frequently sought information like case status and benefit amounts.
  • Automated outbound campaigns facilitate proactive notifications by voicemail or text.
  • Integration with statewide Electronic Document Management System (EDMS) tracks document status and follow-up.
  • Aggregation of data and development of reporting dashboards improves reporting and accountability.
  • Participating counties receive access to tools such as cloud-based contact center infrastructure (including shared ACD/IVR), audio signature, virtual hold, and workforce management that would be cost-prohibitive on a county-by-county basis, without losing authority over local decision making and service delivery.

The Impact

Counties now work together through a modern, statewide telephony platform to better engage customers and determine eligibility in real-time. This unique partnership supports county infrastructure while improving customer experience using standardized processes and shared modern technology.

Real-time eligibility determinations save valuable caseworker time and streamline the customer experience. The state is now in a position to reallocate resources from transactional eligibility work to transformational comprehensive case management services. That shift enables Ohio to proactively address root causes of generational poverty.

As the state continues its contact center evolution, plans are in the works for further improvements, such as:

  • Functionality to identify, route, and handle Medicaid work required callers
  • Addition of childcare business line to existing SNAP/TANF and Medicaid lines
  • Functionality to identify, route, and handle TANF interim reporting required callers
  • Enhancements to existing reports and dashboards to add additional data points collected from caseworker interactions with the call center platform
  • Expansion of self-service capabilities
  • Expansion and automation of outbound notifications

Our team delivers ongoing operational and technical support to Ohio agencies and counties to ensure system stability, resolution of county requests and incident reports, implementation of nominal system changes, and enhancements.