QI Project – How to manage and respond to emails from the public

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Elizabeth Rubock
QI Project – How to manage and respond to emails from the public
What’s On Your Mind?: 

WHY EVERY HEALTH DEPARTMENT NEEDS TO DO THIS: Front end staff are the entryway into any department. Knowledgeable people and a quick response sets the tone for the type of services a customer can expect. Bergen County is demonstrating how a little IT, staff & data management and better customer service are creating a winning combination- satisfied customers & more efficiency in the office.

THE ISSUE:
The way that we were processing and responding to emails to our official department email account presented some challenges – there was no sick-day / vacation coverage for the person who was assigned to screen these emails; it could be difficult to figure out who in the department could answer specific questions; the inbox received a lot of spam messages; etc. This could lead to delays in the department responding to emails.

THE OPPORTUNITY:
We need to provide the public with timely responses to their emails. Improving how we manage this email inbox / response process will let us more effectively communicate with and serve our residents, customers, and partners (better customer service!).

THE IMPROVEMENT:
To make management of this email more consistent and timely, we have designated 3-deep back-ups for this work. We’ve also created a contact list to help direct questions to the appropriate staff members, worked with IT to fix a few structural issues (spam, bulk mail, difficulty accessing the inbox), instituted updated protocols for how to review and respond to questions, and we’re keeping better track of when emails are received and responded to. These changes should help us to better serve our residents – you can see what we did in detail in the attached files.

ADVICE FROM THE FIELD:
Assign a specific person to keep track of resident inquiries to make sure that they are answered promptly.

As part of the Local Performance Management Initiative (brought to you by NJDOH OLPH & Rutgers OCPE), the Bergen County Department of Health Services used Rutgers’ practical QI approach to examine and improve how the department responds to emails from the public.