Labor & Industry Announces Unemployment Compensation Customer Service Improvements

Jennifer BerrierPennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier (Credit: Commonwealth Media Services)

HARRISBURG, PA — Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) Acting Secretary Jennifer Berrier announced that the next phase of a customer service improvement initiative for unemployment compensation begins today.  Approximately 230 new customer service representatives will answer incoming calls to the Unemployment Compensation Service Center, while existing highly trained staff members will shift to exclusively work on resolving outstanding claim issues.

The additional staff will allow for individuals receiving unemployment benefits to more easily reach a customer service representative by phone, while also increasing the speed at which staff members can resolve claim issues. This is part of a larger effort to improve the customer experience and prepare people receiving unemployment payments for the transition from a 40-year-old mainframe system to an easier-to-use modern computer system in June.

“We’re aware that unemployment program enrollees have experienced frustration in trying to reach us, particularly by phone,” said Acting Secretary Berrier. “While we’ve been steadily hiring staff since the pandemic’s surge in demand, this customer service initiative is a more comprehensive approach to significantly increase our capacity to answer questions and rapidly resolve outstanding issues. Being unemployed is already a stressful time. By improving our ability to respond, we can allow workers to focus on successfully returning to the workforce.”

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The benefits of the improve customer service initiative include:

  • More customer service representatives will be answering calls and providing answers to basic questions.
  • If a caller has a more complex question or needs assistance with their specific claim, the customer service representative will create an “inquiry” that will be sent to the claims staff.
  • The claims staff will work on inquiries in the order they are received, and callers will be provided with a tracking number that can be used to see where their inquiry is in the queue.
  • Callers will choose to get a phone call or email from claims staff, or to simply have claims staff resolve an outstanding issue.
  • An additional 200 customer service representatives are completing onboarding and training and will begin answering calls on May 17.
  • L&I will continue adding customer service representatives until all calls to the Unemployment Compensation Service Center are answered or until 1,000 total customer service representatives are staffing the phones.
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To staff this initiative, L&I is working through UniqueSource with its vendor InspiriTec, an award-winning vendor that specializes in combining customer service solutions with affirmative employment of professionals with disabilities, veterans, and disadvantaged individuals.

“It’s a privilege to work with UniqueSource along with L&I’s Office of Vocational Rehabilitation (OVR), and PA CareerLink to make sure customers know they are being heard, valued, and served well,” said InspiriTec CEO John Connolly. “Working entirely from home, our new customer service representatives will make it a point to exceed expectations. Our growing partnership with OVR now extends to 16 OVR offices across the Commonwealth.  Over 230 job candidate referrals, many of whom are persons with disabilities, came to us in one month from OVR and PA CareerLink, reflecting the power of that partnership.”

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Hiring for the customer service improvement initiative is ongoing. Individuals interested in working for the Unemployment Compensation Service Center are encouraged to reach out to their local PA CareerLink location for more information.

In addition to calling, unemployment program enrollees can also reach the Unemployment Compensation Service Center by emailing [email protected] or using the live chat service. L&I also offers a variety of self-assistance resources on its website, including FAQsvideosinfographics, and guides.

For the latest updates on unemployment programs, visit L&I website at www.dli.pa.gov.

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