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Telephone Interviews

Phone interviews may be conducted on the same day a client orally requests benefits or after receiving an application and setting a formal time for the client to answer a call from you.  Phone interviews are quickly becoming a primary source of client contact in our agency.  With the advent of and the Support Centers, the agency has begun to rely heavily on phone contact.  Now, clients who need benefits can call 1-877-653-4798 and request benefits without leaving home, sometimes leading to same day interviews and near immediate processing times.

There are many reasons why phone interviews are becoming more common.   Oklahoma is a mix of urban and rural counties.  In both, hardships exist with public and private transportation and distances from client homes to local offices.  Our clients also work and go to school during business hours making it difficult to come into the office. 

Because of these reasons, phone interviews will become a bigger part of your job as you continue with the agency.  Here are some tips to help improve your telephone interviewing skills from support center staff that interview exclusively by phone.

Put a mirror in your cubicle. 

Not only does it help to figure out when someone is approaching you since you spend more time facing a PC, studies have shown that good customer service comes with a smile, even if the customer can't see it.

Be prepared. 

Pauses in normal conversations happen all the time.  It's just that we don't notice when we are face to face, because the other participant can see what we are doing.  It is ideal to look at already provided verification and IMS / FACS screens before calling a client so that you have an idea of what the client's history is.  If you do have to pause, let the client know so that they understand that you are working on something for them.

Use templates.

Although, the situations of our clients are varied, our interview questions often end up the same.  Many support center workers interview upwards of 20 clients a day and have a need for expediency and to minimize typing. They suggest having the skeleton of your notes in a Microsoft Word template to post into each case note.  It adds consistency to your final product, saves you time, and ensures that you ask all the questions you want before getting off the phone.

Try to address all the client's needs in one phone call. 

With face-to-face interviews, you have more time to go through needs and concerns for a client.  When using phones as the primary source of communication, you want to try to do everything you can while you have the client on the line.  Clients are busy and may not have consistent access to phones.  If you forget to address something vital to the case, it may be hard to get back in touch with the client and could delay action.  Mistakes happen, but following these steps can help minimize the number of times you need client contact, thereby increasing customer service and speeding up the eligibility process!

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