Expediting customer queues: New York Department of State

Tony Hua
May 6, 2021

Backlogged queues, and a staff member leaving.

26 investigators. 14 support staff. An average of 1000 cases processed a day. Yet, there are still much, much, more backlogged. 40% of cases are non-English. The in-house, go-to Spanish coworker is also leaving this month.

40% of cases are non-English.

At New York's Department of State, services offered by the department range anywhere from small business incorporations to on-site courses and trainings for members of local planning boards. Other services such as the Liberty Defense Project hold the limelight for being the first-in-nation, state-led, public-private project to assist immigrants in accessing legal services. Infrastructure projects, such as the State's Local Waterfront Revitalization Project also rely heavily on communication between support staff and partnerships with local communities across the state.

Within the licensing and enforcement unit alone, however, community requests and inquiries for support with business licensing require a full time team of field investigators and multi-lingual support staff, with an average of 1000 cases processed a day. Questions and complaints are, for the most part, non-reoccurring and the issues are often handled within a single call or interaction. Reviewing a single month of interactions, business licensing inquiries average require about 15-30 mins each to resolve.

Placed on hold, waiting for an interpreter.

For non-English requests, that is where calls take significantly longer to resolve. Requests are placed on hold as coworkers seek bi-lingual teammates to transfer the calls to, who most likely are supporting another client themselves at the time. Hiring for bi-lingual staff members with the right skill sets is also difficult, resulting in only Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, and Spanish languages being supported outside of English. For client who speaks a language other than those previous four, the staff member will have no choice but to call remote interpretation services to assist. Of course, this process is also long and drawn out, taking up to 20 minutes before even getting connected:

  1. Staff member place customer on hold
  2. Staff member calls Language Line, a third party, remote human interpreter service
  3. Staff members input their unique access code via the phone dial-pad
  4. Staff members select listen to choices presented, and select a language
  5. Staff member merges the call with the customer, creating a three-way conference call

Staff time, client time, and costs saved

In this whole process, the customer and staff both waits an additional 20 minutes and must go through multitudes of step before even connecting. With Viva Translate, we look forward to the amount of time staff members can save if some of these quick inquiries can be resolved, all via simple, instantaneous, messaging.