Department of Health
Vaccine Scheduling Contact Center Program
A customized contact center solution provided a necessary upgrade to the State of Mississippi’s Online Vaccination Scheduler.
Going above and beyond the call of duty makes a lasting impact.
Scheduled 48,000+ appointments in five months
Scalable solution that efficiently grew from 25 to 80 operators during the contract term
Provided an expanded interactive voice response system (IVR) and call-back function to triage upwards of 20,000 inbound calls per day
Implemented a custom CRM solution and detailed daily reporting to mitigate caller anxiety and quickly provide data to MSDH
When you want a quick resolution to your healthcare and customer relations needs, iostudio is there to help.
When the time came to get Mississippians scheduled for their COVID-19 vaccinations, the state’s online scheduler was overwhelmed. The communication requirements, appointment management process and the users’ lack of access and familiarity with the technology became major blockers.
iostudio met a Thursday afternoon problem with a Friday morning solution. With best practices and insights gained from two decades of creating and managing contact centers—most recently an emergency call center for the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency—iostudio had reps answering calls by the next morning.
At first, many Mississippians were frustrated with the COVID-19 vaccination response, but hold times and abandonment rates continued to decrease, and scheduling an appointment became easier. Operators focused on listening to citizens rather than simply completing the call. Both parties had meaningful, gratifying experiences as they helped Mississippians fight the pandemic, stay safe and, in some cases, plan to see loved ones for the first time in a year.
We scheduled a total of 48,949 appointments; an average of 464 per day for the entire contract.
The MSDH project was truly an opportunity to utilize our expertise and make an impact.
If you had a solid internet connection, an email address, were familiar with filling out and submitting online forms, and knew you wouldn’t have to cancel or reschedule, then Mississippi’s online scheduler was a breeze. However, everyone’s access to technology is not the same. According to Mississippi State University, 54% of Mississippians live in rural areas versus 18% of Americans as a whole. This affects both their access to the internet and their access to vaccination sites.
Additionally, eligibility started with Mississippians who were 75 or older. While there were certainly many internet- and computer-savvy individuals in that group, there were also people who had never had an email address and wanted to schedule their appointments over the phone.
The contact center grew from 25 individuals guiding callers through the website to 80 operators who specialized in providing certain types of solutions, such as answering frequently asked questions, canceling and changing appointments, or handling what became known as vaccine tourism.
Calls handled for entire contract
Peak average incoming calls a day
Average abandon rate for the entire contract
How We Did It
Inbound Call Center
By the first morning, the MSDH vaccine scheduling call center had to have trained operators, and the operators had to have a phone system and a script. From there, iostudio set up skills (what the operators were able to accomplish for callers) and dispositions (ways to categorize the purpose or result of each call). Operators, management and IT support also had comms that allowed them to interact during the day as needed. And, of course, reporting tracked calls so we could evaluate the effectiveness of the plans in place.
The customer relationship management platform grew with the program. It eventually included the operators’ script and a knowledgebase that held maps and other Mississippi and vaccine-related information. It also allowed the operators to input caller information and then send that data to MSDH.
An IVR, or interactive voice response system, is the helpful feature that tells you which number to press. As caller needs became more complex, so did the IVR. Some questions had to be routed to the MSDH office, and the IVR took care of that too. The expanded IVR had the capability to ingest information from callers to get them the resolution they needed more quickly and to inform the logistics supply chain of demand for vaccines by location—reducing waste and optimizing efficiency for each site and the State.
Staffing and Training
As the call center’s capabilities increased, the training procedures for operators grew more detailed. While coordinating staffing, iostudio focused on hiring representatives who were comfortable with working with the CRM and prepared to focus on meeting caller needs. Call length was not a concern. Kindness came first.
Decreased Wait Times and Abandonment Rates
Some days, inbound call counts reached 20,000. It became clear keeping callers on the line wasn’t the answer. A call-back function allowed them to keep their place in the queue without hanging on the line. As soon as an operator was available, their phone would dial the next person waiting for a call back.
Detailed Daily Reporting
iostudio’s responsibility was handling calls. Our analytics team tracked helpful information about the thousands of calls our operators answered each day; from the speed of answer to the ever-decreasing wait time. Interpreting that data helped the MSDH and iostudio partnership optimize call center operations and get more people set up with appointments that worked for them.
Talk about gratifying work that really made a difference!
Our phone system wasn’t simply connecting a constituent with an operator. Frequently, it was connecting two people who were relieved to reach each other. Some of these callers had been waiting hours or days to manage their appointments—they had certainly been waiting months to be able to make one. The relief was audible.
The vaccine scheduling call center started small and expanded quickly, but the caller’s experience was the single most important factor. User Experience (UX) was considered at every juncture. Do you have a unique challenge in front of you? Let’s talk. We can find the custom solution together.