Even without a legislative session, April is always a very busy month. So this year, that is especially true with our agency focused on the final steps of the Sunset review process as well. We greatly appreciate the anticipated improvements this process will bring to the services we provide to the people of Texas and the license holders we also serve. It has always been this agency’s policy to partner with our license holders in order to better serve their clients, the ultimate objective of both the profession itself and our regulatory efforts. This focus explains our agency’s constant outreach requesting your involvement.
Just in the last few months, here are some of the more notable accomplishments that the agency has achieved to better serve the needs of the public and our license holders. First, the agency formally rescinded a standing policy that it would work closely with the Texas Facilities Commission to explore the potential to build an office building in the Capitol Complex. The agency determined that a portion of the funds previously allocated for a potential building project would be best used to directly underwrite the growing costs associated with addressing more broadly - and even more quickly - our efforts to find better solutions to the customer service challenges we were experiencing while serving our expanding base of license holders and the continued Texas population growth. Additional alternative uses for such funds will also be explored.
We further refined the “call tree” and “call-back” features of our phone system to track and handle Commission and Board calls separately. To better service our license holders, we also created three new no-cost online tools. In November we went live with an online a license history certificate, which is available to all TREC license holders. Over the last two months, we implemented a new application processing progress tracker and a tool to display of all education taken and required to renew a license. Currently, these tools are targeted to our largest group of real estate license holders and applicants, but will be expanded to provide these services to all of our license holders in the near future. These three new services have further reduced the need for stakeholders to contact the agency regarding these matters. Together with enhanced staffing and phone system programming, recent average call hold times are under five minutes. Our goal is to keep them this low and to improve even further, while also expanding these tools to serve more license types, including appraisers. Stay tuned…
Also in the last year, we’ve added seven additional staff to the customer contact center, three to the licensing area, two to education and three more to enforcement services for appraisers. These major enhancements were only possible because of the flexibility provided by our SDSI status. Meeting these ongoing resource commitments, as well as beefing up our technology tools to add more capabilities, increase reliability, and provide faster service, will require us to spend down our financial reserves over time. We believe this is the right thing to do, because any money saved for future contingencies should be spent when the challenges are apparent and creating negative effects for sustained periods. This is where the agency has found itself in the last twelve months and this is how it has responded. We plan to move rapidly ahead of these extended challenges and then remain in a highly proactive stance to ensure we meet our promised levels of exceptional customer service. Stay involved to hold us accountable.
As always, we welcome your participation as our policymakers chart the future efforts of this agency. Under the guidance provided by both legislative enactments and direction from the executive branch, this agency is committed to fully achieving the missions assigned to us and carrying out the policies as determined by the Commissioners and Board members appointed to lead us. We are grateful for their service and for the exceptional efforts of the staff team who are dedicated to our success. Aim high!