NATIONAL COUNCIL OF SOCIAL SECURITY MANAGEMENT ASSOCIATIONS
National Council of
Social Security Management Associations
eServices Office Spotlight: Panorama City Field Office
Thursday, July 14, 2016
In recent years, the agency has placed much emphasis on the suite of services available online. As managers, many of us have racked our brains trying to come up with innovative ways to increase usage of eServices in our servicing area. Most of us have tried to cajole our employees into embracing eServices. We have tried to engage our community partners in an effort to get them to refer their customers to go online. At a national level, the agency has tried to engage the many legal representatives with whom we work. While some offices require little effort in marketing the online services, there are offices that, against all odds, have become extremely successful at marketing electronic services. Let’s take the Panorama City office as an example. This level one office, located in a medium-sized city, has some big ideas. For the past few months, this office has led the pack consistently when it comes to RCS registrations. Although they continue to work diligently to meet the other electronic usage targets, we need only look at their servicing area to determine why what they are doing is extraordinary.
The inner city’s office service area consists of mostly non-English speaking population. Many of the customers serviced by this office rely on their children to handle any type of government business. SSA pays a total of approximately $723,000 monthly to about 69,000 beneficiaries. So, how is it that this office has managed to maintain consistently high numbers? The office attributes their success to one simple word: COMMUNICATION.
Management in that office believes in the product it is selling. They have managed to keep electronic services at the forefront by speaking in an enthusiastic manner about eServices at each staff meeting, and by regularly sending creative messages to the staff encouraging them to talk about electronic services. Management has sold the eServices product to the staff, by making it personal to them and explaining how electronic services can help make their jobs easier. Aside from communicating with the employees about the vision for electronic services, they have also stressed the importance of educating the public. Armed with an enthusiastic eServices cadre, and with a can-do attitude, they have been able to overcome many of the obstacles that the employees routinely express as barriers for encouraging electronic services usage in their office. Beyond having the right attitude, management in this office has taken additional steps to ensure their success.
Last year, the office established a workflow that includes speaking to each person they encounter about eServices. The workflow is designed to make the employees talk to each person they help, even if the person has already been talked to about electronic services, and refused in the past. The office has stories about individuals who previously declined using electronic services but subsequently saw the benefits of using them, and signed up. However, their workflow does not end there. The office also reaches out to the children and representatives accompanying the visitors to conduct their business at SSA. Whoa! That’s an idea. Not only is the office encouraging current visitors to use electronic services, they are also preparing future beneficiaries for their life journey with the Social Security Administration. In addition to the established workflow, the office regularly reaches out to local libraries to educate them in helping beneficiaries get onto the SSA.gov website. Additionally, they systematically mail out electronic services information inside each piece of mail they send, and actively seek employers in their servicing area to educate them about electronic services and the benefits that it can mean for them and their employees. This office is using each opportunity they have today, to improve tomorrow.
Currently, visitors pack our lobbies, and we can all surely use a breather. Although this rest might not be immediate, we all know that the more customers we can educate about eServices, the better it will be for our lobbies in the long run. We can learn a lot from this office’s innovative ways of promoting electronic services to both the internal and external customers. In the end, it appears that their innovative idea comes down to one simple word: COMMUNICATION.
By Susan Solorio
San Francisco Region