The agency has had quite a busy summer and the fall continues to bring a steady stream of challenges. As we continue working through all the issues which arise, especially through the Sunset process, know that we remain fully committed to exploring every effective option available to improve this agency’s performance. First and foremost, our mission has not changed and our dedication to accomplish it in the most effective, efficient and transparent manner is shared by our policymakers and our staff team.
The most visible function we maintain is ensuring our record high number of license holders can timely renew their licenses online, and if necessary, can communicate with us for assistance in doing so. The reliability of this communication has been our major challenge in 2018. The agency upgraded its phone system in June 2017 and began exploring a new integrated software solution for better management of our contact center. After several incremental steps to remedy the situation did not achieve meaningful improvements, and our requests for software solutions proved increasingly complex, in April we added 25% more staff in our contact center to ensure calls and emails are responded to more quickly, and 10% more staff to our license application processing team. In June we implemented new user-selected call routing options and in late August we added a new automated call-back feature.
As of July, we announced Tony Slagle as the new Deputy Executive Director with a major duty focus on the two agency divisions that provide the most immediate front-line customer service. In August, the Agency dedicated an additional $1.3 Million to greatly accelerate some previously identified technology projects that will have the impact of improving our customer service. The combined effect of all these enhancements has been to greatly increase the number of calls and emails the agency staff can handle timely, and a significant reduction in average hold times and response intervals.
While these are solid improvements, we have much more to do to restore confidence in our ability to respond effectively to new developments in realty market business practices, rapidly accelerating technology opportunities and disruptions, and continued growth in our license holder population. Over the past nine years, we have managed to respond to these challenges in a more predictably effective manner, but we did not respond as rapidly or effectively as we should have in late 2017 and early 2018. We are back on track to find and implement effective solutions to any challenge that comes our way.
Some of the insights offered by the Sunset Commission review process will assist us to achieve some structural and process-related changes that promise even more potential for future improvements in effective mission accomplishment. We always welcome recommendations that will produce better results for the consumers we serve, the license holders we regulate, and all the stakeholders we work closely with to achieve our mission. As always, we invite your continued input as we move forward.