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DTA Improves Access to Case Info by Phone; Customer Service Tracking

TO: Food SNAP Coalition Members
FR: Pat Baker

At yesterday's Food SNAP Coalition meeting, we discussed a number of technology improvements to improve customer services for clients. Here are the highlights -

1. New Phone Access for Food Stamp/SNAP and Cash Assistance case information:

The following message is from MLRI AmeriCorps Fellow, Kelly Love:
In the January DTA Transitions Newsletter, DTA references a new "interactive voice response" or IVR phone number: 1-877-382-2363. This number provides clients and advocates with immediate information on the status of both cash and food stamp/SNAP benefits, including the name of the DTA case worker, the status of the benefits, the date the next check or SNAP benefit is due. To get access to specific information on a food stamp/SNAP case, the client or advocate need to provide the SSN, year of birth, the client's zip code and the number from the most recent EBT card sent to the client. If the client has not yet received an EBT card or lost it, it is not possible to get case specific information. This "interactive voice response" phone number has a few other options too. In addition to specific case information, you can get information about DTAs purpose and information on how to apply for benefits. You can also get to a live person during DTA business hours.

Overall, I think this phone number and the recipient services number will be most useful for advocates to obtain some quick information about a clients case if the client is unsure who her case manager is or what the status of her case is. With the case managers name, the advocate can call the main number of the clients local office and use the directory to get the direct number of the case manager. The only information not available over the phone that clients can access through the My Accounts Page is a list of notices sent over the last 90 days, but opting to speak with a representative could give an advocate access to that information. This phone number could also be useful for recipients with quick questions that they can resolve on their own with a call to this number, rather than seeking out an advocate to find out the information for them. This number is very similar to the "application information hotline" (1-800-249-2007), but IVR can also be accessed 24 hours a day.
For information on the Interactive Voice Response, see pg 2 of DTA Transitions: http://www.masslegalservices.org/node/35272
For information on the My Accounts Page, see DTA Field Ops Memo: http://www.masslegalservices.org/node/29783

2. Local office "e-log" to track walk-in clients at local DTA offices:
DTA has developed a new tool for local DTA offices to "better organize the flow of clients who visit the office, to improve customer service, to gain a better understanding of why individuals visit the TAOs and to allow DTA to better distribute resources to assist those individuals." This tool is called the TAO Reception Log or "E-log." The E-Log is essentially a data base that allows DTA receptionists, clerks, case managers, supervisors and office directors to track when clients come in to the local offices, immediately notify the DTA worker by email that the client has arrived, the reason for the visit, alert a supervisor (e.g. if the worker is out) and track how long clients wait and more. As DTA Regional Manager John Shirley explained at the Coalition meeting, this new E-log will help DTA figure out when local office staffing needs should be beefed up based on client traffic flow at local offices.

According to the attached DTA Operations Memo, "Users with the role of Receptionist have the option of registering clients by swiping the client’s EBT card, typing the client’s SSN, or by creating a facsimile number for vendors or for clients who do not have their EBT card or do not want to provide their SSN. Upon registering a client an email will be sent to the assigned case manager; therefore it is essential that all staff have their Outlook open." So, in short - if a client has an EBT card, they can swipe it without announcing themselves in the public waiting room! Clients without EBT cards (e.g. new applicants) can give an SSN or other information so they too will get served.
For more information on the new "E-log": see DTA Operations Memo 2011-13: http://www.masslegalservices.org/node/35343