Some offices, such as probate, plan to resume some walk-in business and add online appointments, Probate Judge Harry D’Olive Jr. said. D’Olive told the Baldwin County Commission at a recent meeting, that appointments work well once a resident can get through to set up the time.
“The downside of the appointments is the overloaded phone system for the county,” D’Olive said. “They’re averaging just about 2,000 calls a day just to probate and it’s causing people to have to be on hold for quite a while. Once they make an appointment to come in and they’re in and out. They’re not crowded in a lobby waiting a couple of hours to be called.”
D'Olive said probate workers have been able to help some residents who have come to the offices without appointments, but appointments have priority and the entrances are watched by security officers.
“We’re still using a law enforcement officer at the door,” D’Olive said. -Budget-wise, that’s really eating our lunch and we want to get away from it, but it’s been helpful and it’s allowed us to keep all of our employees on the counter waiting on customers.”
Commissioner Joe Dorgan said residents have complained about not being able to call in.
“I had a person tell me that they had called on three different days and been put on hold for 30 minutes each time and they don’t feel like they’re any further along than the first day they called,” Dorgan said. “To me, if you’re trying to reach a particular office and it’s overwhelmed, then put me in a queue that one day I may get a call back from somebody.”
Shannon Spivey, county customer relationship manager, said that in May, switchboard operators received almost 17,000 calls just for probate.
“They were only able to process 8,171,” Spivey said. “I hate to say only, because that’s a massive amount of phone calls for basically one scheduler.”
D’Olive said he spoke to his office’s software vendor last week and hopes to have a system in place to allow online appointments soon.
“We will able to start taking appointments online, which will eliminate a lot of the phone business,” D’Olive said. “It may take two or three weeks before we can get that in place, but that’s another one of our goals.”
He said officials hope to soon set up a system where some walk-ins could be seen in the afternoon, while mornings are still left open for appointments.
D’Olive said online requests to process license tags and for other services are four times higher than for the same period in 2019. He said mail requests are also up.
“We’ve had trays and trays of mail, so we’ve been disbursing those, at least in the period that we were closed, to the other offices as well and they were processing those and mailing the decals back out,” D’Olive said.