OHIO VALLEY — Gallia Meigs Community Action Agency is gearing up for the winter Home Energy Assistance Programs (HEAP) with a new automated phone system. Interactive Voice Response (IVR) is a phone system that is easier to use for customers and more efficient for scheduling, allowing employees at GMCAA to spend more time helping the public and less time sorting out logistical matters.
“We hope that this new system will make it easier for people to get the help they need,” said Tom Reed, director of GMCAA.
In the past, scheduling an appointment to get on the HEAP program was difficult and stressful for both employees and clients. GMCAA would have to spend most of their day every Friday taking calls and scheduling appointments, time they could have used to have those appointments and assist the public.
The new system will take calls and schedule them, and it is open around the clock beginning Monday, Oct. 23 at 8 a.m. In the past, prospective clients had to call in on Friday during certain hours to schedule an appointment, and there was enough phone lines or workers to meet everyone’s needs and answer every call. IVR will work to remedy that problem.
“On the first day I would get here at 5:30 in the morning and there would be over 100 people here waiting to get in,” said Reed. Last year, over 1,600 people were helped through the HEAP program.
HEAP is a state program that helps families keep the heat on in their homes during a crisis, GMCAA is a facilitator for that program to homes in Gallia and Meigs counties. There are specific guidelines regarding who can qualify for HEAP, as well as certain and necessary documentation required to bring to an appointment. When an appointment is scheduled, the system will inform the caller of what they need to bring with them.
HEAP starts Nov. 1 and runs through March 31 of 2018. The new automated telephone number is 1-866-409-1361. If you have any questions about HEAP or wish to talk to someone personally, call their main office at 740-367-7341.
Reach Morgan McKinniss at 740-446-2342 ext 2108.