I am thrilled to be able to lead with some great news – because of enhanced staffing, improved training, real-time flexibility in response management, and more precise phone system programming we’ve employed, in recent weeks the average hold times for calls received by the agency’s contact center are under five minutes! Also, the average for all of April was about five and a half minutes, so we are still improving. Our goal is to keep doing so methodically and sustainably. We are grateful that our contact center team is doing a great job and we hope you have noticed the dramatic improvement.
In the last 12 months, we have also added a variety of free new tools to allow applicants and license holders to accomplish tasks and check status online, so fewer calls need to be made. Starting with the Name Management Tool to register and display aliases, DBAs and team names last May, we added the Certified License History Tool in November, the Sales Application Progress Tracker in February, and now the Continuing Education Progress Tracker in April. Also during this same period, we configured the incoming call routing tree in June, added the Courtesy Call-Back feature in August, and segregated the Board calls in March. We also reduced the fees for most sponsorship transactions by half – saving license holders over a half a million dollars each year - and hired 12 new staff team members to reduce average application processing times and enhance our overall responsiveness. Quite a busy year!
These advancements are only possible because of the flexibility provided by our SDSI status. All of this improvement involves a significant commitment to advanced technology tools and processes, so our staff training curve has become steeper as well. These enhancements represent long term shifts that we believe are clearly in the best interest of the people of Texas, the professions and trades we regulate, and the mission of this agency. We are grateful for the service of the volunteers appointed by the Governor to guide this agency, and for the extraordinary efforts of the staff team who are dedicated to our success. We invite your regular and careful involvement to ensure the public policies we implement are consistent with the values we hold and principles of efficient and effective government.
Governor Abbott appointed a new Chair for the Commission and two more new policymakers as well. Broker Scott Kesner is now Chair of the Commission, along with broker Barbara Russell and Chief Deputy Sheriff Jason Hartgraves were appointed as an industry and public member, respectively. Read more about them online at our website and in this newsletter. We also bid a fond farewell to outgoing Chair Avis Wukasch who has served for two 6-year terms, with eight years as Chair, Commissioner Adrian Arriaga who also served for twelve years, and Commissioner Chart Westcott who served for six years. We appreciate the past and future contributions of each of these dedicated volunteers.
We also welcomed our new General Counsel Chelsea Buchholtz as we anticipate the retirement of Kerri Lewis who has served the agency so well for almost ten years. Preparing the agency for even greater effectiveness has created additional opportunities for some key staff. Denise Sample was promoted to Director of the Licensing & Registration Services division, and Jennifer Wheeler has moved up to the Director role in the Education & Examination Services division. Both new directors reorganized their teams and added staff. Director Robert Hood also added new staff in the RCS division, and Director Steve Rapp added additional contract programmers in the ITS division. Three new team members strengthen the team in the Appraiser Board’s Standards & Enforcement Services division. All across the agency, 15 new team members were added in the last 18 months as we raised our performance expectations.
Next month we will talk more about the changes we anticipate as a result of the sunset bill currently pending in the legislature, and we will recap the results of our May Commission and Board meetings. In this time of rapid change and improvement, we continue to aim high. You deserve it, and we embrace it.