Elizabethtown Gas and United Way, Tour 2-1-1 Call Center to Seek Ways to Increase Its Effectiveness to their Customer

The 2-1-1 CALL CENTER located in Whippany, NJ, makes it much easier for people seeking help in emergency situations or to access community resources such as energy assistance or social services. The 2-1-1 Call Center is outfitted with the most sophisticated technologies used to direct all incoming calls to their proper destination. The 2-1-1 Call Center manages a myriad of calls for callers and reduces confusion, frustration and unnecessary delays in getting help. Furthermore, 2-1-1 improves the use of community resources by directing people to the appropriate services quickly and efficiently. 

As a United Way of Greater Union County (UWGUC) community partner, Elizabethtown Gas representatives requested a tour to observe first hand how New Jersey’s energy assistance Referral Hotline works along with information provided to Elizabethtown Gas customers needing energy assistance.  In partnership with UWGUC, Elizabethtown Gas’ goal is to ensure that each Elizabethtown Gas customer gets access to energy assistance when they need it.  They wanted to see how they could build on the partnership of educating customers needing aid and energy assistance to low-income residents through the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) program, which is funded by the NJ Department of Community Affairs.  Elizabethtown Gas is a strong supporter and corporate partner with UWGUC and in the past have successfully worked together on community-related initiatives. 

In late July, Debra Moss and Michael Lewis from Elizabethtown Gas/AGL Resources were joined by Debbie-Ann Anderson, Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer and Cristina Pinzon, Corporate Relations Manager from United Way of Greater Union County, to observed the operations of the 2-1-1 Call Center. 

“2-1-1 is an important resource for the community and touring the center helped us see first hand how it operates and what improvements were made.  We learned a lot during Hurricane Sandy and 2-1-1 responded to those challenges,” states Debbie-Ann during the tour of the call center. Specifically, the call center offers 24-hour, 365 days a year access to human services, health and community resources, emergency preparedness and disaster response resources.  In the case of Hurricane Sandy, 2-1-1 handled thousands of calls and responded to many people requiring help and direction to emergency support service.  

Currently, 2-1-1 serves as the one-stop resource for utility assistance, and callers for the state of New Jersey’s energy assistance dial in to 2-1-1. The call center phone agents provide location and hours of for local agencies and explain, to callers, how the various home energy assistance programs work.  2-1-1 also explains what documentation is needed to acquire resources and follows-up on applications once they have been filed.  In addition, 2-1-1 helps find alternative resources if applicants don't qualify for the state utility assistance programs. 2-1-1 also provides assistance for both Universal Service Fund (USF) and the Board of Public Utility program.

The center has multi-lingual acces (170+) and is suitable for the hearing impaired (TTY and Live Chat).  The virtual call center environment allows calls to be distributed across locations. 2-1-1 also offers a Mobile App., which provides access to a database of essential resources.(available for download at www.nj211.org)  For more information visit www.nj211.org