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Answering the Call: How Call Centers Help Manage Vaccine Rollouts

Doug Jones

City officials must turn to qualified call centers if they want to improve the citizen experience.

Thanks to companies like Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson, the United States is now entering a new phase of the pandemic. COVID-19 cases are dropping in nearly every state and the vaccination rate is rising, allowing families and friends to reunite. 

But despite the effectiveness of today’s COVID-19 vaccines, one area of the vaccine rollout hasn’t been so smooth: appointment scheduling. As efforts to reach herd immunity continue and vaccine trials for children — including those five and under — ramp up, the public sector must prepare for a new wave of appointments. The question is — can they keep pace?

Vaccine Scheduling Challenges in the Public Sector

When the first round of vaccines entered the market late this past winter, citizens eager to get vaccinated flooded their cities’ appointment scheduling sites. But the demand didn’t meet the supply, and appointment scheduling websites across the country crashed. 

When Washington D.C.’s vaccination portal shut down for two days after 36,000 people tried to access a mere 4,300 appointments in 30 minutes, city officials were forced to respond. In a post on the district’s official Twitter account, D.C.’s Chief Technology Officer Lindsey Graham said, “We know many of you are extremely frustrated with the online process to register for a vaccine. We understand the stress this has caused, and we’re working closely with our technology partner at Microsoft to continually monitor the process and make improvements.” 

Situations like these have led cities across the United States to experience spikes in calls, emails, and chatbox messages from frustrated citizens demanding answers. As the federal government launches a new phase of vaccine distribution focused on children 15 and under and vaccine-hesitant Americans, city officials must prepare. 

Using Call Centers to Improve the Citizen Experience 

While states like New Hampshire and Vermont have added call centers to their suite of support services during the pandemic, many states have failed to do so. 

According to Massachusetts’s Attorney General Maura Healey, “First, it was unemployment. The Department of Unemployment had no live call center. Then, it was workplace safety. After that, evictions. No system. We’ve tried to help those frustrated constituents all year. The vaccine call center should have happened yesterday.”

With a qualified call center in place, public sector agencies can:

  • Help citizens schedule their first or second vaccine appointment. This is critical as the federal government expands its efforts to help people living in rural and low-income areas — many of whom don’t have stable internet connections or a computer — get vaccinated. 
  • Help citizens reschedule their appointments due to weather, a work conflict, etc.
  • Answer questions related to side effects, risks, effectiveness, and more.
  • Answer questions from concerned parents as the age minimum for receiving a vaccine continues to drop.
  • Reduce the pressure placed on overburdened public sector employees.
  • Minimize support costs in times of high demand.
  • Improve the citizen and public sector employee experience.

How to Access 24/7 Call Center Support

Today’s citizens demand knowledgeable support the moment they need it, and nearly 90% of them want to receive support from a live customer service agent. Cities that fail to meet these demands risk dealing with an onslaught of angry messages, negative headlines, and overworked staff. 

At Epiphany, we specialize in providing superior customer support 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our accredited agents are prepared to answer the toughest questions, schedule vaccine appointments, address IT challenges, and more, saving your staff hours each day.

We also offer translation and interpretation services across a multitude of languages, ensuring all citizens get the fast, effective support they deserve. With Epiphany support agents on your team, no citizen is left behind. 

The time to arm yourself with an award-winning customer support partner is now. Contact us today to learn more. 

Doug Jones

Doug Jones

Chief Strategy & Development Officer

Doug’s 30-year career spans sales, operations and IT management, as well as teaching, consultancy, and numerous C-suite roles.

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