At the end of January, only 8 percent of the United States population had received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, and only 2 percent had completed vaccination. Between restrictions on who could receive the vaccine, availability of doses and confusion about how to sign up for an appointment, many people faced difficulty gaining access to the vaccine.
Like many things, vaccine appointments became a local challenge. And Staff Management | SMX answered the call when a health care organization in New Jersey asked it to help hire 300 bilingual call center agents to assist with scheduling and troubleshooting vaccine appointments in the Garden State.
Staff Management | SMX began hiring agents in January. Ultimately, they will assist with registration through an online vaccination registration system, provide guidance on scheduling wait times, schedule vaccination appointments in the state-provided online vaccination registration system and refer consumers to additional resources when needed.
And they will not be in a rush to get off the phone. The goal is to make sure that everyone who calls for an appointment gets the help they need.
“The state of New Jersey wants to make sure their affiliation with their health care partner is offering the best part of customer service,” said Alex Patel, executive director of Staff Management | SMX’s Executive Director, Recruitment and Placement Solutions (RPS) team, which is handling hiring, training and onboarding the call center agents and supervisors. “Many calls take 20-to-30 minutes. Once the caller feels comfortable with the answers they received, then the call can end.”
That meant hiring people with customer-centric attitudes. But because the work could be done remotely, from any part of the country, the only challenges became the technology the team would need to use. The client decided not to issue equipment, preferring to stand up a virtual call center in which people would bring their own devices.
“The client felt comfortable onboarding people and not having to issue equipment,” Patel said. “What we’ve learned is that there are a lot of people who meet the technical requirements because they have their own devices.”
Could that become a trend in call centers? It may be too early to tell, but one thing is certain – people in New Jersey have better access to vaccine appointments thanks to a flexible arrangement and a willingness to deliver what people need, when they need it.
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