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Posted Tuesday, May 10, 2016 by Team Northwoods

Cabarrus County DHS Turns Chaos into Calm with Lobby Overhaul

DUBLIN, OH—May 10, 2016—Walking into Cabarrus County Department of Human Services (DHS) is like night and day for people who need economic assistance including Medicaid, crisis or energy assistance or Food and Nutrition Services.

Before a recent overhaul and modernization of the lobby, people seeking services often waited in long, confusing lines. They were frustrated, as were the caseworkers trying to help.

To improve customer service and better serve the community, the agency redesigned the lobby, updated appointment management software for caseworkers and modernized business processes.

Now when clients walk into the lobby they immediately speak to a greeter, who checks them in on a tablet and directs them to the right area based on their needs. Clients can view their place in line on TV monitors hanging throughout the lobby. Clients are less frustrated and get in and out of the agency much faster.

Since overhauling the lobby, Cabarrus County DHS has created these positive results:

  • Reduced client and caseworker frustration
  • Improved lobby flow and reduced lobby wait time
  • Helped manage ACA, NC FAST
  • Sped up timely application processing
  • Provided leadership visibility into operations
  • Saved caseworkers 1-2 hours per day
  • Repurposed 1 FTE, saving 40 hours per week

"I think this new system has really allowed us to improve the customer flow, the lobby flow. People are getting immediately served and immediately queued instead of sitting down waiting and getting impatient. I think we've gone from a really outdated system to where we need to be and it's been phenomenal,” said Ben Rose, Director of Human Services.

The agency had been performing well until the economic downturn hit in 2008. Then Cabarrus County DHS faced pressures common to human services agencies across North Carolina and the entire country – an influx of Medicaid clients from the Affordable Care Act, adjusting to the state’s case management system, NC FAST, and seasonally busy times for crisis or energy assistance.

To fix the problem, Cabarrus County DHS partnered with Northwoods to do a Health Check, where Northwoods evaluates how well software and business processes are working to meet business needs. Cabarrus County DHS implemented Northwoods’ recommendations, which has resulted in improved customer service and efficiency.

To learn more, view the Cabarrus County DHS case study.

About Northwoods
Northwoods’ only focus is helping state and county human services agencies increase client service levels and productivity while cutting costs — allowing them to do more with less. Northwoods’ human services software solutions are designed around caseworkers and social workers, not simply data collection. Our Compass®products automate the flow of client and case information based on how caseworkers throughout the agency need to use it. Northwoods is headquartered in Dublin, Ohio. For more information, visit


Tiffany Himmelreich