Behind the scenes: What we know about Kansas’ unemployment call center

Capitol Bureau

TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – The Kansas Department of Labor gave KSNT News’ Capitol Bureau insider stats Friday from its call center for unemployment claims.

KDOL shared some trends it has gathered about Kansans trying to file for unemployment through its call center:

  • A daily average of 15,000 different Kansans are attempting to claim unemployment through the call center on a daily average of 200,000 different times.
  • The average caller attempts to call the unemployment center 30 times in one day.

“With the current call volume, we would need to hire 1,500 operators. At this time, we have over 450 handling calls.”

Kansas Department of Labor

KDOL said people should avoid calling during the following days and times, which are when calls swell and callers won’t have much luck getting through for unemployment claims:

  • Mondays
  • 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. any day
  • 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. any day

On the other hand, KDOL said Fridays are the best days for Kansans to call, since call volume is lower.

The call center also sees 13% of callers hang up while in line to talk to a person in the call center, and another 25% hang up while being transferred to another representative to escalate the claim. In both cases, KDOL said the claimants call again and increase the overall number of calls.

“Once a claimant has been placed into the queue, do not hang up. Do not hang up and call back. This action will not help a claimant get through to an agent quicker.”

Kansas Department of Labor

To file an unemployment claim online, visit the KDOL website by clicking here.

KDOL ON AUTO-DIALERS

According to KDOL, auto-dialers, an electronic device or software that automatically dials telephone numbers, do not work when trying to get through to the KDOL phone system. In fact, a spokesperson for the department said using one burdens the phone system, making it more difficult for anyone to get through to a customer service representative.

“Through our systems and our tools, we are able to recognize call patterns. We can tell by the time between calls. When humans make calls there are some variations, there are not with auto-dialers. Someone using the auto-dialer will call every 19 seconds, like clockwork. The dialers cannot sequence properly to our menus. Thus, they are just blocking the system for other callers trying to get through”

Kansas Department of Labor

The department said a claimant must call in each time and go through the menu prompts. An auto-dialer will not get a claimant through the menu and into the queue.

“If call queues are full, and she/he is not able to connect to the system, the person’s call is terminated and she/he is asked to call back at a later time. While frustrating, this is a better solution for claimants and CSRs.”

HOW TO GET ON KDOL CALL-BACK LIST

Many Kansans have reported having problems getting through to anyone at the state’s unemployment office. If all else fails, some Kansas lawmakers suggest giving them a call, or sending an email, so they can add you to a call-back list. This will help claimants get a call from a customer service representative, without having to sit on hold.

“That’s what we’re here for, is to help people,” Rep. Kyle Hoffman, R-Coldwater, told KSNT News’ Capitol Bureau. “I’m glad to do it. I just wish we didn’t have to do it that way. I wish they were able to get through on their own without us having to intervene.”

A spokesperson for KDOL said being added to the list does not give you priority over other callers in the queue. The spokesperson explained the process for the call back-list in an email Friday:

“No one gets in front of the line based on who she/he calls. In fact, doing so is an extra step in the process. If you get through to a CSR while calling in and the phones are busy because people are calling in, the problem you may be calling about with your claim is worked then, real-time.”

Kansas Department of Labor

According to state lawmakers, it could take about one to two weeks for the department to call you back, as they struggle with a high volume of callers.

“It is taking people a little while to call back people once they get on the call back list that I and other legislators put them on,” said Rep. Stephanie Clayton, D-Overland Park, who serves on the state’s 2021 labor and economic development committee. “But, they are getting through, and so that is a solution to that problem.”

Kansans can contact their lawmakers by email or by phone with concerns about their claim.

For a full list of contacts for state senators, click here.

For a full list of contacts for state representatives, click here.

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