An Evaluation of the Military OneSource Call Center in Select Groups of Callers

Call Quality, Call Outcomes, and Caller Satisfaction

by Erika Litvin Bloom, Lisa H. Jaycox, Thomas E. Trail, Allyson D. Gittens, Grace Gahlon, Steven R. Dickerson, Ammarah Mahmud

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Research Questions

  1. What level of quality exists in responses to calls to the Military OneSource call center?
  2. Are call center triage consultants knowledgeable, helpful, and respectful of callers?
  3. Is the process of referral to resources outside the call center easy to use, and do callers find the referrals helpful?
  4. Are callers satisfied overall with their experiences in using Military OneSource?

Military OneSource operates a call center for military personnel and their family members, as well as those who have recently left the military. The goals of the center, which is directed by Military Community and Family Policy (MC&FP), are to directly provide resources for families and to provide referrals to a variety of support and health services.

In this report, the authors describe their evaluation of Military OneSource call quality, call outcomes, and caller satisfaction within select groups of callers: junior enlisted personnel and their family members, those seeking relationship counseling, and transitioning service members (retired or honorably discharged). Their evaluation consists of two separate studies: Study 1 involved reviewing and rating audio recordings of calls for quality, outcomes, and satisfaction. Study 2 consisted of telephone interviews with a separate sample of callers in which the callers were asked directly about their experiences in communicating with the Military OneSource triage consultants who handle the calls; whether and how they were referred to resources; and, if so, their satisfaction with those resources.

Overall, the Military OneSource calls were rated of high quality with regard to communication style, and they were successful in referring callers to appropriate resources. Similarly, most interviewees expressed satisfaction with their experience in communicating with Military OneSource triage consultants and reported that they were referred to resources and services that met their needs. These interviewees offered limited suggestions for changes to the referral process.

Key Findings

Overall, communication quality was very high

  • For the majority of calls, the triage consultants were responsive, patient, and respectful.
  • Triage consultants were rated as knowledgeable for almost all calls, and the incidence of triage consultant negative behaviors was practically nonexistent.
  • Ratings of the extent to which triage consultants explained things in a way that was easy for callers to understand were generally high.

Call outcomes were positive, but small issues suggest room for improvement

  • Almost all consultants engaged in collaborative problem solving with callers and consistently provided referrals.
  • Not all referrals were conducted as warm handoffs (with the triage consultant connecting the caller directly to an outside resource/service via a three-way call).
  • Calls were rated as establishing good rapport between consultants and callers.

Interviewees conveyed that they were very satisfied with their experience with Military OneSource

  • Consultants were described as friendly, supportive, helpful, and knowledgeable about military life.
  • Interviewees indicated that Military OneSource offered significant value compared with other call centers and services.
  • Interviewees indicated that Military OneSource was free, fast (with regard to how quickly consultants answered the phone and connected callers to resources and services), easy to use, available everywhere at all times, and confidential.
  • Most interviewees said that they were successfully connected to the resources or services they were seeking and satisfied with the connection process.
  • Among those who had the opportunity to use these resources/services by the time of their interviews, most said they were satisfied with the help they received.

Recommendations

  • Military OneSource call center supervisors should review their existing triage consultant trainings and determine whether additional training focused on communicating with diverse service members and their families is warranted, with a particular focus on communication with junior enlisted service members.
  • MC&FP should bolster and expand its advertising of Military OneSource, including emphasizing the confidentiality of the service in advertising and encouraging military leadership to publicize the service among service members and families.
  • MC&FP should deliver postcall email summaries to callers to improve caller utilization of programs or resources provided during the call.
  • Military OneSource should provide callers seeking nonmedical counseling with a list of counselors in their geographic area, including the counselors' types of degrees/licenses and their areas of specialization. Similarly, Military OneSource could take steps to ensure that its list of counselors is up to date and that counselors on the list are available to take new clients.
  • MC&FP should monitor and address technical difficulties that arise with using the chat function.
  • MC&FP should study the feasibility and likely effects of extending Military OneSource call center services to veterans beyond one year after discharge.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One

    Background

  • Chapter Two

    Methods

  • Chapter Three

    Results

  • Chapter Four

    Summary and Recommendations

  • Appendix A

    Call Rating Protocol

  • Appendix B

    Interview Questions

This research was sponsored by the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Military Community and Family Policy and conducted within the Forces and Resources Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division.

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