Social Services Unveils Social Assistance Customer Service Call Centre

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Acting Financial Secretary, Mr. Marlon Johnson (at left), addresses team members of the Information Technology and Communication Unit/Social Assistance Customer Service Call Centre of the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development during his visit Friday (July 3, 2020). Mr. Johnson, was accompanied by Ms. Elise Delancey, Permanent Secretary, the Department of Transformation and Digitization (DTAD), Office of the Prime Minister. Pictured at far right is Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell and (at second right) Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development, Ms. Phedra Rahming. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

Officials at the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development recently unveiled its Social Assistance Customer Service Call Centre to coincide with the start of the Beta Testing Exercise for clients of the Department of Social Services’ Food Assistance Programme in New Providence who are awaiting replacement cards.

Food Assistance Coupons are now available digitally on Kanoo App for the aforementioned persons as part of the Beta Testing Exercise for New Providence. Beta Tests will also be conducted for persons who have made application for Rental Assistance. Those tests will be conducted by Transfer Solution Providers Ltd. and Cash N’ Go. With its origin tied to the recently established Information Technology and Communication Unit, Min. of Social Services and Urban Development, the Social Assistance Customer Service Call Centre has also been tasked with assisting persons applying online for social assistance via use of the ProMIS web application.

The ProMIS App digitizes the application process, ensuring that Bahamians anywhere in the country can apply for Food Assistance from the “comfort of their homes.” The process will be expanded to include other services offered by the Department of Social Services. Min. of Social Services & Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell, recently hosted Acting Financial Secretary,Mr. Marlon Johnson, and Ms. Elise Delancey, Permanent Secretary, the Dept. of Transformation and Digitization, Office of the Prime Minister, to a tour of the Centre and the Information Technology and Communication Unit. The two Senior Government Officials have been instrumental in the digitization and transformation underway at the Ministry.

Min. Campbell told team members that their new roles will help to “revolutionize” the delivery of social assistance in the country.

Acting Financial Secretary, Mr. Marlon Johnson (at left), joined team
members of the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development in
observing National Pride Day at the Ministry’s Head Offices (Friday, July 3).
The Acting Financial Secretary was provided with an update on, and tour of,
the Information Technology and Communication Unit and the Social
Assistance Customer Service Call Centre. Also pictured are: Ms. Phedra
Rahming, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Social Services and Urban
Development (centre) and Minister of Social Services and Urban Development, the Hon. Frankie A. Campbell. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

“I am just overwhelmed with gratitude for what you are doing to revolutionize the humanitarian arm of the Government,” Minister Campbell said. “You are helping us to relieve the frustration that exists for our internal clients (staff) and our external clients because people want assistance and they want it immediately and so we want to be in a position to give it to them. This is historic.

This is long overdue.” Ms. Judy L. Simmons, Deputy Director with responsibility for the Information Technology and Communication Unit, said the Call Centre meets clients at their point of need.

Ms. Simmons said the work of the Call Centre will make the application process, and indeed the delivery of social assistance, more efficient, effective and swift. “We like to think of it as swift assistance,” Ms. Simmons said. “When persons are in need, they only know the pain and/or discomfort that they are feeling in that moment and that can lead to frustration. What we are doing will ultimately assist persons – from their cell phones – to go online immediately and fill out the application.

We, on the other end, will see that application and will be able to process that application within the system with them on the line, helping them, without them having to leave the comfort of their homes to have to catch a ride to a Social Services centre, in the first instance, or stand up for hours on long lines in the heat. They can apply online from the comfort of their homes and so it will help us to deliver swift assistance in a more efficient and effective manner and that is what we are aiming for.”

Deputy Director Simmons said during the Beta Testing Exercise of Food
Assistance for the Digital Wallet/Digital Coupons, officers of the Unit have been in constant contact with clients who are part of the Beta Testing Exercise to ensure client satisfaction in the first instance, to ensure that clients understand the process, and to answer any questions they may have. “It’s an opportunity to provide our clients with the benefits of the digitized system.

It’s a service line where we support the clients as they journey with the Ministry,through digitization and transformation.” Equipped with 11 Land Lines that are managed by 11 technical officers who have undergone training on ProMIS, digitization and the best practices in customer service delivery, the Call Centre provides clients with the opportunity to not only speak with an officer regarding any concern they may have with their account, but to also be guided through the entire process where necessary.

The Call Centre is expected to shortly expand its reach to clients by
providing 24 Hour coverage via a 24Hour Hotline. Three lines will be dedicated to the 24Hour Hotline. Clients will be able to make calls to the main lines (397-8604/397-8628) and those calls will be forwarded to the cell phones of customer service representatives. Additionally, plans are underway to expand the Unit’s customer service reach via various social media platforms.

“In terms of where we are going, as we digitize more, we want to bring on stream a social media platform – What’s App, Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In – that will further assist us in attaining our objective of meeting our clients wherever they are in The Bahamas,” Ms. Simmons said. “Our ability to reach out to/meet clients and, vice versa, is going to be particularly important given the geographical make-up of The Bahamas. This is what the future of Customer Service is going to look like at the Ministry of Social Services and Urban Development — by all means we will be here to assist our clients everywhere.”

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