Overview

As the third largest school district in the U.S., the Chicago Public School District (CPSD) provides education for 396,000 students in more than 665 K-12 schools. CPSD’s Staffing Services Center offers a range of services to more than 44,000 current and prospective employees each year, administering all staffing and hiring activities, as well as assigning displaced teachers and substitutes to schools.

A solution from QLess allows current and prospective employees to schedule appointments for a range of human resource activities at the Staffing Services Center without waiting for hours to be served. After registering for appointments, they can leave to attend to other business, receiving regular updates and prompts via text message, and returning in time for their appointments.

“When I arrived in 2013, long lines and lengthy wait times impacted our customer service delivery,” said Angela Mason-Johnson, Director of Staffing Services in CPSD’s Talent Office. “Implementing QLess has substantially reduced the time our current and prospective employees have to wait in line, and this has greatly improved customer satisfaction.”

Business Challenge

The Staffing Services Center serves hundreds of district employees daily, with the volume of visitors swelling to as many as 600 people in the peak months of July through September. The process for managing traffic in the cramped office space was previously conducted with pen and paper – employees would sign in on a paper docket and then head to the rear of the line. Wait times for an appointment could extend as long as eight hours.

“We would have hundreds of people waiting at one time, and they were afraid to so much as go to the bathroom for fear of losing their place in line,” said Ms. Mason-Johnson. “The line would frequently stretch out of the office, down the hall, and out the door.”

These long lines would cause tremendous frustration and anxiety for our customers with concerns about neglecting professional duties as well as personal responsibilities, like picking up children from daycare or school. Equally frustrating, Staffing Services staff would spend considerable time managing traffic in the crowded office space and smoothing stressed-out customers waiting for services.

Solution

Soon after arriving at CPSD in 2013, Ms. Mason-Johnson began looking for solutions to relieve the congestion and reduce wait times. A technology consultant for the district recommended that she consider the QLess queue management solution. Following a demonstration of the software, she approached her supervisor with a proposal and obtained approval.

When QLess was rolled in June 2014, customers began registering for appointments via kiosks at the Staffing Services Center. They were then free to leave and the system would prompt them via text messages on delays and changes in scheduling, allowing them to reschedule an appointment if needed without losing their place in line. An hour before their scheduled appointments, they would be prompted to return to the center.

The improvements were immediately visible with far fewer customers in the waiting areas at any given time. In addition, since the Staffing Services staff no longer had to manually manage the queue because it was automated, they were now able to focus solely on providing professional services to the customer.

“Several people who experienced our old method have shared what a tremendous improvement the new system is,” said Ms. Mason-Johnson. “Moreover, staff morale has improved significantly in the Staffing Services Center.”

The CPSD Talent Office is now considering adding more functionality to the solution, including a feature that will send feedback surveys on how to further improve services. The add-on would also allow the Talent Office to share service information with district employees, such as announcements, upcoming programs, and important deadlines.

Results

With the QLess solution, wait times and lines of people waiting for services have been substantially reduced. This was an essential requirement, as the Staffing Services Center recently moved to a new building and now has half the space it occupied at its old location. In addition, Talent Office staff now spends less energy managing the waiting area and are able to devote more time attending to the needs of the customer.

“People who work in our office lived through the old situation for years, which was time consuming and extremely frustrating,” said Ms. Mason-Johnson. “Our staff is much so happier now because they can focus on doing their jobs instead of managing long lines and complaints – they no longer have to deal with ‘I was here first,’ because it’s all in the QLess system.”

“The QLess solution has truly been an enhancement to the way CPSD conducts business. People used to have anxiety about coming here – now they look forward to it.” —Angela Mason-Johnson, Director of Staffing Services at the Chicago Public School District

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