As part of the Health and Wellness Service Team's Residents First Initiative, Financial Assistance Service (FAS) has implemented new ways to make the Government Center East Building's Customer Service Lobby more efficient, effective, and welcoming. One goal is that no one will wait more than 30 minutes for an appointment to see a financial worker.
The effort is a response to customer concerns about the time it takes to receive services, drop off paperwork, or get in contact with their financial worker.
In January 2019, FAS implemented a new staffing structure, a more welcoming physical space, and better ways for clients to get quick answers to their questions. With these updates, residents will more easily be able to go through one door to access county services. In addition to everyone being seen within 30 minutes, the redesign's goals are to:
- Provide efficient and effective access to services.
- Incorporate strategies that address institutional racism.
- Have a new staffing structure with streamlined and automated workflows.
- Support a positive environment that values the diversity of our staff and community.
- Allow for opportunities to actively promote new and changing services.
Visits Each Month
On average, more than 1,000 people visit the East Building lobby each month to apply for cash or food assistance.
Counts do not include people visiting the building to drop off paperwork or speak with a financial worker about their case. Counts are for appointments for new applications.
Why People Visit the Lobby
To better understand and get direct feedback from residents about their lobby experience, FAS and the Health and Wellness Administration held an engagement event in June 2018 and a follow-up event in May 2019. Visitors wrote feedback on engagement boards that asked questions like, "What makes you feel welcome?" Staff conducted interviews with lobby users and observed visitors while they went through the lobby process.
The May 2019 survey showed that
- 30 percent of visitors were there to drop off, pick up, or verify forms;
- 24 percent were there to apply for benefits;
- 18 percent were there to renew or reinstate benefits;
- and the rest to ask general questions, obtain an Electronic Benefits Card, or talk to their financial worker.
Long wait times can be attributed to clients visiting the lobby for reasons that could be addressed by phone or using the mail or a drop box, including dropping off forms. Clients surveyed said that they use the services in the lobby instead because they believe they will get faster service, their worker hasn't called them back, they need an interpreter, or they prefer face-to-face interactions. In addition to improving the lobby, FAS is working to make other means of communication easier so people can avoid a lobby visit.
The May 2019 survey also asked if respondents had visited the building before January 2019. Most had. They were asked what changes they noticed. The most common changes notices where the Information and Service Center, more staff to help, and the shorter and faster queuing system.
Two people write comments on the engagement board.
30 Minutes or Less
FAS's goal is that lobby visitors will have wait times of less than 30 minutes to see a financial worker for an interview. This chart shows the percent of visitors with wait times of less than an hour and less than 30 minutes.
Data only includes people applying for benefits, not visitors for other reasons.
Lobby Visit Data
Data only include visits for an appointment to apply for cash or food benefits.