Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) and Community Software Group jointly launched the Massachusetts LIHEAP public portal, making available an online fuel assistance application. With social distancing still in effect and agencies restricting physical access to their offices, the availability of the portal creates an additional, safe means for fuel assistance applications to be submitted and processed.
With the public portal in place, people in Massachusetts interested in fuel assistance can find their local LIHEAP agency’s portal using a zip code locator service. If that agency is using the portal, clients can set up an account, fill out an application, schedule a phone appointment, and upload supporting documents using a web browser running on their home computer or smart phone, all on their own time. Currently more than half of Massachusetts’s 22 fuel assistance agencies have adopted the portal, and the expectation is that all agencies will have the portal for the 2021-22 fuel assistance season.
For agencies with staff working at home, the portal can be paired with Community Software Group’s cloud-based IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system, allowing both in-office and remote workers to collaborate in answering LIHEAP-related calls from a shared call center. The office phone system is optional since calls can be answered from a browser. The IVR system also includes an automated menu and voicemail, so that clients have 24/7 access to information about their application status and can leave a voice message that can be managed via the call center when the agency is open. Together, the public portal and IVR system help agencies safely manage the changed workflow requirements caused by COVID-19 and social distancing.
The best news for those in every state is that the technology can be completely customized for your use. Operation Fuel, a large fuel assistance organization in Connecticut, also uses a portal developed by Community Software Group, configured to meet their own data management and legal requirements. Community Software Group’s portal software can be configured to handle applications and related tasks for most any type of application, with our support team able to design and modify custom data entry “flows” that function on top of an extensible, cloud-based technology stack. These flows will communicate directly with whatever CSG case management or program administration software you wish to use.
If you’re interested in hearing more about the portal or IVR technology or scheduling a demo please email Tina.Sargent@CommunitySoftwareGroup.com