Accenture has positive impact on Kansas Department of Labor

Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 10:40 AM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Governor Laura Kelly shares updates with Kansans on call center representatives and virtual assistants within the Kansas Department of Labor.

Governor Laura Kelly says the Kansas Department of Labor has been working with a team of specialists from Accenture for just over 2-weeks as they provide operational and technological assessments to improve the delivery of unemployment services to Kansans.

“We know there have been major issues and missteps, we’ve hit the reset button and are focusing on the future,” Governor Kelly said. “Accenture is reviewing and providing recommendations to improve the stability of our systems to make sure they are readily available to support Kansans.”

Kelly says while the assessment is still underway, improvements have already been implemented. She says since the pandemic began, $1.2 billion in unemployment claims has been delivered by the KDOL to almost 200,000 Kansans.

According to Governor Kelly, one of the biggest difficulties the agency had was the high volume of calls requiring highly-trained customer service representatives. She says KDOL has been working with Accenture, under her guidance, to add call center representatives trained in unemployment surge response and will be able to provide progressively higher levels of service to callers.

Kelly says the first group of new representatives started taking calls on Monday, July 13, and more will start next week after training is completed.

Furthermore, Governor Kelly says as well as hiring more call-center representatives, KDOL has hired seven new IT employees to speed up the implementation of various federal unemployment programs. She says the hires include professionals with specific experience in the programming language that KDOl’s outdated system was built in.

KDOL says it has also laughed a new online virtual agreement named Amelia, who can answer the agency’s most frequently asked questions about unemployment benefits. Amelia can be found in the bottom right-hand corner of the KDOL website and as of July 13, had nearly 7,000 conversations that exchanged over 23,000 messages with users.

Accenture says it has previously worked with over half a dozen other states to address COVID-19 related programs. It says, like Kansas, many states have struggled due to the high volume of unemployment claims and antiquated computer systems. According to the organization, Kansas is one of the most severe cases of outdated technology it has encountered.

While developing recommendations, Accenture says its team is applying lessons learned from their work in other states, such as how to use federal stimulus funds to rebuild old systems and adding automated features to the website to help answer questions and get Kansans paid quicker.

“The response model being implemented will be able to be scaled up as needed and there will be more trained agents and technology workarounds for the current computer system,” KDOL Acting Secretary Ryan Wright said. “Our top priority is to get Kansans paid as quickly as possible and with good customer service.”

Governor Kelly says currently, almost everything in the KDOL system must be done manually with minimal automation, meaning processes take longer and fewer residents can be served. The data and metrics are not stored in a central location, she says, which makes it difficult to verify and provide consistent system reporting.

“Once the surge response is stabilized, we’ll be able to turn attention to the badly needed system rebuild, so we never face this situation again,” Wright said.

Copyright 2020 WIBW. All rights reserved.

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