A county with more than 500,000 residents faced a rising spread of COVID-19 cases in its community. The county health department’s small contact tracing team, made up of mostly volunteers and reassigned workers, was overwhelmed and a backlog of cases was rapidly growing. The county needed help from a partner that could quickly bolster its contact tracing efforts and eliminate the backlog to keep the virus in check.
TTEC was brought on board for our expertise in customer care and contact center solutions. Within a few weeks, TTEC recruited, hired, and trained approximately 90 local work-from-home (WFH) contact tracing agents with experience in healthcare or other related fields. The agents received outbreak management training through our virtual training program for a fast and effective ramp-up. Paying a higher wage – 30% more than the average call center wage – was critical to driving a successful outcome.
It was essential that contact tracers had excellent interpersonal skills, the ability to conduct case interviews with care, and were able to explain in plain language, the medical terms associated with COVID-19 including symptoms, potentially infectious interactions, infectious period, etc. We explained to the client that it would be impossible to hire enough agents with these skills unless they were appropriately compensated.
In fact, a higher pay rate was key to the program’s success for numerous reasons:
- Highly-skilled agents easily took up contact tracing
- The agents already had WFH qualifications and were better suited to remote work
- 100% technology pass rate; all of the agents passed the technology/equipment test
- Shorter training time; experienced professionals were familiar with the onboarding process
- Zero attrition in first 90 days followed by extremely low attrition
- Speed to proficiency; many agents upskilled quickly and advanced into specialized roles within a few months
Through a coordinated effort with the county health department, TTEC quickly deployed skilled contact tracers who successfully met all of the client’s KPI metrics. The contact tracers contacted every individual that tested positive for COVID-19 within 24 hours. They also eliminated the backlog of more than 6,000 cases in less than two weeks while also handling new cases.
Deploying local contact tracers was also helpful for gaining the trust of individuals in the community and gave them comfort to share health information and identify close contacts. In fact, the contact tracers had a roughly 70% success rate in persuading contacts to cooperate with them and close the case. The team was so effective that the county was able to scale back the number of agents while maintaining a high success rate.