Courtesy of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
WASHINGTON – VA is committed to improving the customer experience for Veterans and their families, caregivers and survivors. The first interaction many Veterans will have when they inquire about the care and benefits they have earned from their service are through VA Contact Centers.
In 2018, when Veterans reported difficulty navigating over 1,000 VA toll-free numbers and multiple contact centers, VA established the Enterprise Contact Center Council (ECCC) to lead a modernization effort, with the goal of improving the customer experience.
One such improvement in 2020 was the establishment of a single, easy-to-remember phone number, 1-800-MyVA411 (1-800-698-2411), to access VA benefits and services. That included access to live agent support 24/7/365. This was one of many improvements that have since been implemented by the ECCC. In fiscal year 2022 alone, VA Contact Centers fielded over 50 million calls, with 72.7% of customers indicating on satisfaction surveys that their need was met the first time they contacted VA.
In July 2022, Veterans had a new way to reach the Veterans Crisis Line by dialing 988 and pressing 1. This new number addressed the need for ease-of-access and clarity in times of crisis for both Veterans and their families. In FY 2022 over 717,000 calls were answered by the hotline. The Veterans Crisis Line can also be reached by text (838255) or chat.
Deploying updated phone system technology and software tools to increase the efficiency of contact centers remains a core priority for contact center modernization efforts. But telephone isn’t the only way to reach VA.
AskVA consolidates previous online inquiry services into one system that makes it easier for Veterans to submit questions, concerns and recommendations. The submissions are routed to the appropriate VA service and users can receive secure messages and track their issue from submission to resolution. Last year, 356,000 inquiries were received through AskVA, with 98% successfully resolved.
The VA Chatbot won’t connect you with a person. But it will save you time from browsing the VA website searching for the information you need by allowing you to ask specific questions and letting the bot scour available information on VA.gov for the answer. Over 40,000 customers have interacted with the VA Chatbot. And with new advances in artificial intelligence coming at a rapid pace, it will continue to improve and provide a quick solution for the answers they seek.
VA is on a dynamic, multi-year journey to modernize its contact center experience. Whether a Veteran is separating from the military and wants to know how to apply for VA benefits, is in crisis and seeking help, or is already enrolled in VA health care and needs to schedule an appointment, VA contact centers are available and on a mission to serve America’s Veterans.