NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development is announcing improvements in two key performance measures that affect unemployment benefit service delivery. Organizational changes have been made resulting in greater access to self-service features and a reduced backlog of those who have applied for unemployment.
“These changes have an exponential effect on our service delivery,” Employment Security Administrator Linda Davis said. “Decreasing the backlog means fewer follow-up calls, and opening access to selfservice allows callers to directly find the information they need without any delays.”
The unemployment phone system has 600 lines, and like many service centers, the system allows use of a PIN to access a number of self-service functions like changing address or checking the status of a claim.
Previously, if all of the phone lines were taken by claimants in the queue, the system would shut down access to selfservice features. The department has since reprogrammed the flow of calls so that selfservice lines are available even if all claims center staff are engaged with customers.
Self-service usage has increased from 3,467 services in January 2013 to 41,133 services in April 2013.
The department has cut the backlog of unemployment decisions in half since last September. At that time, there were 29,000 unemployment claims awaiting decisions; that number has now been reduced to 13,000.
“The claims center’s workload is directly tied to the backlog as the majority of the calls coming in are claimants wanting to know when a decision was made on a claim and when their benefits will begin,” said Davis. “There will always be a backlog due to thousands of new claims coming in each week and issues with claims requiring information-gathering; however, too many unresolved claims bog down the system. Now that the backlog is at a manageable level, the claims center is able to deliver much more timely service.”
The department has made progress on the backlog by allowing adjudicators to work overtime hours as well as crosstraining interviewers to make decisions on claims, which was previously only allowed by adjudicators. Interviewing supervisors and managers are also contributing toward making decisions on claims.
Self-service information is available by calling the Claims Center at 1-877-813-0950 Monday-Saturday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.