EEOICPA BULLETIN NO. 02-25

 

Issue Date: September 16, 2002 ___________________________________________________________

 

Effective Date: September 9, 2002

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Expiration Date: September 9, 2003

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Subject:  Telephone Management System (TMS)

 

Background:  In June 2002, at a Manager’s Meeting held in Denver, CO, one of the topics discussed was improving customer service between the offices and stakeholders.  At the meeting it was determined that an automated telephone management system would be developed by the Branch of Automated Data Processing, Coordination and Control (BADPCC) and the Branch of Policy, Regulations, and Procedures (BPRP).

 

October 1, 2002 was established as the target date for implementing the automated telephone system in each office.  The key components identified for the new system were: a) a system that records and tracks responses to telephone messages; b) a system that provides user and management reports to permit efficient monitoring and oversight of telephone activity; and c) a system that is accessible from Energy Case Management System (ECMS) application screens.  

 

Purpose:  To establish policy and procedural requirements related to telephone usage and provide guidance on the use of the new ECMS Telephone Management System (TMS).

 

[There is no single “TMS” Screen in ECMS.  TMS refers to a combination of screens and functions in ECMS.  For example, the phone message screen is accessed by clicking the red phone icon, and phone message reports are accessed by clicking on the ECMS Reports icon.  Throughout this bulletin, “TMS” is used loosely, to refer to one or more screens or functions related to on-line telephone tracking and management.]

Applicability:  All staff.

                                                                                                                                                                                               

Actions:

 

1.  Training for all users of TMS was conducted in each site within the Division of Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation (DEEOIC) by District Office (DO) and/or Final Adjudication Branch (FAB) claims personnel who received prior training ("train the trainer" methodology) from National Office personnel, including staff from the Branch of Outreach and Technical Assistance (BOTA), BPRP and BADPCC.  Train the trainer sessions were held on August 29, 2002.  District and FAB training was conducted for all DEEOIC personnel by the trainers the following week, September 3rd through the 6th. The training was mandatory for all office staff who have contact with stakeholders over the telephone. Using TMS for recording and tracking all phone calls became mandatory effective Monday, September 9, 2002.

 

2.   ECMS Release Notes describing TMS are available on the Shared Drive. The Release Notes should be reviewed by all DEEOIC personnel, as they  contain detailed instructions on how to use the automated telephone management system.

 

3.   Effective Monday, September 9, each office was required to discontinue using its previous system for tracking and recording incoming telephone calls, and utilize ECMS/TMS for this purpose. (Note that local phone tracking systems could be used through September 13, but only to close out previously opened, non-returned messages pending closure in local systems as of September 9, 2002.  The BADPCC will assist offices to load historical phone records from local systems into ECMS/TMS.) 

 

4.              The rule that governs who must create the automated ECMS/TMS telephone message is: if you answer the phone, you create the phone record in ECMS, unless you immediately transfer the caller to another person within the office, and that person picks up the phone and speaks with the caller.  That second person becomes responsible for creating the phone message record in ECMS/TMS.

 

In this circumstance, the first person must record the incoming call (caller name, date/time, employee social security number, referred to whom) in a manual log.  Office management must maintain/retain their log and use it as a quality assurance tool to ensure that all transferred calls are logged into ECMS. DO management may exercise discretion to eliminate this manual logging procedure ONLY by establishing and enforcing rules that require the person answering the call to always create the automated ECMS/TMS phone message record, even if he/she transfers the call.

 

5.   Callers must never be transferred to someone’s voicemail without the caller’s explicit knowledge and consent. The person transferring the call must ensure that the call is picked up so that the caller is not inadvertently dropped or transferred to a voicemail message.

 

6.   Mandatory rules describing the types of calls that must be entered and tracked in ECMS/TMS are contained in the following paragraphs. Office management at each DEEOIC site may establish local/discretionary policies that expand the “must enter and track” criteria for phone calls.  Please note, all calls tracked in ECMS/TMS must be entered within one hour of the time it was received.

 

a.   An automated telephone record must be created for every telephone call that requires a return call, regardless of whether the caller is a DEEOIC claimant or a representative or other interested party to a DEEOIC claim (including NIOSH, DOE, and DOJ).  For example, calls taken by a contact representative, workers’ compensation assistant (WCA), supervisor, etc. that require the caller to speak with the claims examiner (CE) or any other member of the district office staff will be entered into the system and assigned to a specific individual for a return call.

 

b.   All incoming calls from DEEOIC claimants, survivors, attorneys, Congressional Offices and/or any other parties to a DEEOIC claim (including NIOSH, DOE, and DOJ) must be recorded in TMS, whether or not a return call is required. If an incoming telephone call is answered completely (i.e., final response given - no return call needed) by the person receiving the call, he/she immediately must enter the call into the system and close it out by entering "Y" in the Direct Call field.

 

c.   Calls that result in the office sending informational packets or application forms related to the Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Program Act (EEOICPA), to potential claimants or any other persons must be recorded in TMS with a description in the text field of what was sent, when, and to whom.

 

d.   Calls from medical representatives, members of interest groups, or elected officials (or their staff members) must be recorded in TMS whether or not either a) a return call is necessary or b) any informational packet or other documentation needs to be sent.

 

e.   Outgoing calls - those initiated by claims personnel - to a claimant or a party to the claim must be recorded/entered as a phone message into ECMS/TMS. Users must select "G – Out-Going" in the Call Reason field to identify the phone message as one generated from within, NOT received from the outside. The outgoing call falls under the category of a "direct call."  After entering all appropriate data to record the call, users must click on "Y" in the Direct Call field, and ensure that the phone message is closed.  If an outgoing call generates the need for a call-up (to remind the CE to take additional future action, for example), the person making the call first must document the call in the phone message screen, then open the Notes and Call-ups screen to enter a call-up note and date.

 

The above criteria involves calls that are either case-specific or general in nature.  If a caller identifies a particular case, than the call should be entered in the ECMS phone message screen for that case.  However, if a caller requests general information, or is simply not referring to one particular case, the call must still be entered into ECMS.  Each office has created a “dummy” case record in ECMS for recording such general calls.

 

7.   Even though the ECMS Notes & Call-ups Screen may previously have been used to record outgoing calls, effective immediately all telephone contacts, whether incoming or outgoing, must be documented in one place: the ECMS/TMS phone message screen. This procedure promotes ease of use and data consistency - all phone calls are in one place, all call-ups and notes are in another.

 

8.   When a call requiring TMS entry is taken, the required data that must be entered into TMS are:

 

·         Call Reason (select from list; use "other" if none apply)

·        Claim Type (select from list; "other" values are available for calls unrelated to existing claims)

·        Note (The individual taking the call enters a note - up to 2000 characters - describing the substance of the inquiry.  This note is known as the Primary Phone Message.)

·        Caller Name (enter name of caller)

·        Call For (enter name and/or title/position of person that caller asked to speak with; use "N/A" if specific person was not requested)

·        Relation (select from list - caller's relationship to the claimant identified in Claim Type field)

·        Direct Call ("Y" if direct answer was provided by person entering phone record - "N" if direct answer was not provided and callback is required)

·        Received by (system will default to logged-in user id)

·        Received date (system will default to current date)

·        Callback No. (enter caller's phone number, if provided by caller)

·        Assign to (select from list - any user in DO).  The user name entered in the Assign to field becomes the "owner" of the telephone note.

·        Callback Completed ("Y" or "N" - phone call will remain open and pending until "Y" is entered and saved to this field.

·        (Callback Completed) On (system generated date)

 

9.   The note field of the Primary Phone Message must not be modified or updated, except in two instances:

 

a.   By the creator of the message, and then only to correct or clarify the text entered on the date of call creation.

 

b.   By the owner of the message (or supervisory personnel), to explain why he/she is reassigning the message to another user. 

 

10.  Return/completed call messages must be entered on a supplemental message screen (Callback/Addendum Notes) that is accessed via the bottom portion of the phone message screen. (The TMS user moves the cursor into one of the rows in the grid and then depresses the <INSERT> key to add a new callback/addendum note.)

 

11.  Any telephone call that is entered into the TMS will remain an open call until it is returned (i.e., return call and response provided to caller) and then closed out in TMS.

 

12.  When a call is received and completed by the same individual (no assignment or call-back needed), the individual must click the “Y” in the Direct Call box.  A direct call is one in which the question(s) posed by the caller is answered directly at the time of the call.  In this instance, the “Y” prompts the TMS to close out the call by entering the call received and completed dates simultaneously.

 

13.   When a user logs into ECMS, TMS displays a message identifying the number of pending phone messages which have been logged for (that is, assigned to, or owned by) the user signing in.  By selecting the “Open Phone Msgs option, TMS displays all the outstanding calls that do not contain a completed call date.

 

14.  The owner (user name appearing in the Assign to field) of the phone call is responsible for returning the call and closing out the TMS phone message.  After returning an open or pending call, s/he must take two actions to close out the pending call in ECMS/TMS.

 

a.   First, the user creates a Callback/Addendum Note by opening the pending phone message in ECMS/TMS, then moving the cursor into the Callback/Addendum Note grid and depressing the <INSERT> key.  A blank callback/addendum note will appear on the screen - the user enters the details of the return call here. A callback note must comprehensively describe the reply to the caller’s inquiry.   TMS will allow up to 1000 characters.  After this addendum note is saved, it appears as a new row in the grid view at the bottom of the "parent" Phone Message Screen.  Double clicking on the specific row for a Callback/Addendum note displays the full text of the note. 

 

b.   Second, after the addendum note is entered and saved, the CE or other user must return to the parent telephone message Add/Update screen and click the “Y” in the Callback Completed box, and ensure that the (Callback Completed) On date reflects the actual return call date.  If “Y” is selected, the call will no longer appear on the pending phone messages list.  If “N” is selected, the TMS system will not close out the call and the call will appear on the owner’s pending phone message list.

 

15.  Once a phone call is assigned to a person, it is owned by that person.  TMS permits only the person who owns a call, or supervisory personnel, to reassign a phone call. TMS permits reassignment of an individual phone message from within that message screen - the current owner simply selects the new owner of the message from among the list of users in the Assign To box.  When reassignment is accomplished in this manner, the owner must type his/her user ID and the date within the “Note” portion of the primary message, along with a brief reason for the reassignment.  The owner will reassign a phone call only when he/she does not actually speak to the caller.  The call will not be closed out until a return call is made.  For example, a customer service representative answers a call and refers it to CE-1.  CE-1 receives the referral and becomes the owner; however the case is actually managed by CE-2.  CE-1 does not return the call, and reassigns the case to CE-2.  CE-2 then becomes responsible for ensuring that the call is returned timely.

 

TMS also permits block/group reassignments from the Manage Phone Message screen.

 

Because of system flexibility in permitting reassignments, local office management must establish policies to govern call reassignments by phone message owners. For example, each office should determine whether supervisory permission or intervention is required to correct erroneous phone call assignments, and - due to workload considerations - to make reassignments to cover CE absences or other situations requiring backup coverage.

 

16. If the owner of a pending call (a CE, for example) returns a phone call and the caller wants to speak to someone else (e.g., a supervisor or district director), the CE must close out his/her call and create a new phone message, assigning it to the appropriate person.  This situation is different from that described in number fifteen (above) because in this scenario the CE actually returns the phone call prior to referral to another individual, and the current call is closed out.

 

17.  Phone messages should never be deleted, except by supervisors, and only to remove an entirely erroneous account of a phone call. If, for example, a call from a claimant is mistakenly attached to a case record belonging to another unrelated individual, only a supervisory person may delete the phone call record.

 

18.  While in any one of the telephone screens, the user may go into another ECMS screen to check status, etc. on the case.

 

19.  All claim-related telephone call messages must be printed and filed in the case jacket, but only after the phone call record is closed, i.e., for calls requiring a response, after the response is recorded in the Callback/Addendum Note. (Users may do a screen print or use the Message Text Report in ECMS Reports.  The Message Text Report will print a single Primary Note, with all associated Callback Notes, or multiple Primary Notes and associated Callback Notes, based on a user-entered date range.)

 

All general calls not related to a specific case must be printed and kept in a central location in the office for reference and tracking purposes.

 

20.  All DEEOIC offices are responsible for returning and closing calls within two calendar days of the date of receipt of the call.  This requirement is tied to the date and time of the received call, not to the date and time the call is assigned to a particular person.  That is, all callers must receive a return call within two days.  Reassigning a call from one person/call owner to another does not close the call out or extend the time period for response. 

 

Disposition:  Retain until further notice.

 

 

 

 

PETER M. TURCIC

Director, Division of Energy Employees

Occupational Illness Compensation

                               

Distribution List No. 1: (Claims Examiners, Supervisory Claims Examiners, Technical Assistants, Customer Service Representatives, Fiscal Officers, FAB District Managers, Operation Chiefs, Hearing Representatives, District Office Mail & File Sections.)