Customer Story

Cabarrus County Provides Superior Service with Modernized Lobby

Cabarrus County Department of Human Services redesigned its lobby, updated technology, and refreshed business processes to better meet the needs of clients.


Cabarrus County Department of Human Services’ clients were frustrated by a confusing lobby and long waits, which had a ripple effect on efficiency. The agency partnered with Northwoods to redesign the lobby, upgrade technology, and modernize business processes to reduce client and caseworker frustration and process applications for services much faster.

“This new system has really allowed us to improve the customer flow, the lobby flow. We’ve gone from a really outdated system to where we need to be and it’s been phenomenal.”


Director of Human Services
Cabarrus County Department of Human Services

Challenges overview

Cabarrus County DHS was performing well until the economic downturn hit. From 2008 to 2013, Cabarrus County residents eligible for Medicaid increased by 33%. Residents eligible for Food & Nutrition Services increased by 62%.


The agency worked hard to keep up with the volume of clients, but inadvertently neglected to keep existing business processes and technology – Northwoods’ client and lobby management software, Compass® Appointments – updated. Operating in crisis mode, the agency reverted to manual processes that only exacerbated the problem in the lobby and throughout the agency:

  • Confusing lobby flow for clients
  • Client frustration because of long wait times
  • Caseworker stress trying to process cases quickly
  • Caseworker frustration with inequitable work distribution
  • Management inability to track why and how many clients are in the lobby


To fix the problem, Cabarrus County DHS partnered with Northwoods to do a Solution Optimization, where Northwoods evaluates how well software and business processes are working to meet business needs.

To improve customer service, Cabarrus County DHS redesigned the confusing and inefficient lobby flow to decrease wait times and reduce client frustration.

1. When clients walk in, they immediately speak to a greeter, who electronically checks them into Compass Appointments on a tablet and directs them to one of three areas: Express Center, window, or the caseworker.

2. Clients heading to the Express Center or window bypass waiting in the lobby.

3. Clients meeting with a caseworker are added to a specific queue based on what services they are applying for and wait in the lobby until their appointment time.

4. Monitors in the lobby show clients their place in line, then ding and light up when their caseworker is ready.

Results overview

  • 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


The new process eases client frustration because they know where to go and can see where they are in the lineup.

Caseworkers are no longer spending appointment time explaining long lobby waits and dealing with frustrated clients. They have time to focus on processing applications and providing good customer service.

Caseworkers are saving 10-20 minutes per client. Caseworkers seeing 5-6 clients per day are saving one to two hours daily that they can use to process their cases and collect necessary information, documentation, and verifications. They can then process new applications faster.

With Compass Appointments, supervisors and managers now have a complete view of who is in the lobby and why – from clients dropping off documents to those applying for multiple services. Reports available through Compass Appointments also help management track and determine staffing needs and determine if cases are being equitably distributed.




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