“Overnight, we told people, ‘Go home, and start teleworking’. Well, in order for us to be able to do that, we had to implement a portion of the solution literally overnight so that people could go home,” said Pearson. Like many government agencies, NMHSD operated in alignment within the parameters of normal business hours, 8:00 to 5:00 p.m. “If customers couldn’t reach us during those times, they may have not gotten their questions answered or needs met,” Pearson continued. And this was only made more difficult when the team looked at customer complexity: data analysis highlighted that the majority of NM HSD customers were enrolled in more than one public assistance program, requiring people to connect with different employees separately due to each program having its own area of expertise. “For example, someone could be enrolled in Medicaid, but also have a child support case. If they had questions about both, they'd have to call the 1-800 number for Medicaid. Then, when they were done with that, they'd have to call the 1-800 number for child support,” Pearson explained.
Just before the pandemic started, NM HSD replatformed its customer service center on Service Cloud which brought multiple disparate systems into a singular call center. The team then expanded on it by enabling customers to engage via email, phone, text, and chat 24/7, 365. “One of our goals is to successfully implement technology that improves services to our customers and employees. It’s a part of a broader initiative that we call HHS 2020 or Health and Human Services 2020, which at its core is realigning public assistance programs, benefits and services around an individual or family,’ said Pearson.