(ANOKA) – Since Anoka County’s Licensing Centers re-opened in June, there has been an overwhelming number of phone calls. They’ve been so busy, getting through by telephone has been a challenge for customers.
Normally, the centers handle about 4,000 calls a month from people with questions about license tab renewals, drivers’ licenses and marriage licenses. But since re-opening with an appointment system after the COVID shutdown, they’ve been swamped with so many calls, some have gone unanswered.
“The first month after we closed, when we re-opened we received 70,000 phone calls,” said Anoka County Board of Commissioners Chair Scott Schulte. “We obviously couldn’t answer all of those. We don’t have enough people to perform the work and answer the phones just wasn’t getting done so people were being lost in voice mail, and sometimes the system was so overwhelmed, they couldn’t even leave a message.”
Even now that they’ve been re-opened for more than four months, the centers are still getting 20,000 to 30,000 calls a month. That’s still more than five times the normal level. To get a handle on the problem, the county is spending $47,967 in COVID relief money on a new automated call monitoring system, called “Qlive.”
Schulte says that should help calls make it to their proper destination.
“We’re hoping your experience will be that someone will answer the phone and they will tell you what the process is,” said Schulte. “Hopefully we’ll be able to channel phone calls and triage phone calls in a whole different manner.”
Schulte said adding to the problem was a large number of recreational vehicles, campers and boats that were purchased this summer. They need title transfers and licenses, putting more workload on the licensing centers.