Can the DMV Be Saved?
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Can the DMV Be Saved?



An independent research project in which I explored the DMV’s inefficiencies and a way forward.

An independent research project in which I explored the DMV’s inefficiencies and a way forward.



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Can the DMV Be Saved? Presentation Transcript

  • 1. Can the DMV Be Saved? | 2013 Sarah Skaggs Can the DMV Be Saved?
  • 2. Can the DMV Be Saved? | 2013 Sarah Skaggs INTRODUCTION The Department of Motor Vehicles has come a long way: customers can book an appointment instead of lining up outside at 6am with the hope of being seen that day; they can renew just about everything online; and there is a wealth of information online to prepare them for their visit should they need to come in person. Despite its increased use of technology and online information and tools, the DMV is still plagued with bottlenecks and confusion around process and required paperwork. The website has information to address every possible use case, and plenty of signage posted around its office. But witness a bewildered customer asking for help from a security guard, and it’s clear that there’s a disconnect between providing information and making it useful to customers. Inefficiency and lack of clear information make for a poor customer service experience. A typical visit, even by a seasoned pro, is rarely pleasant. There’s a mix of anxiety, frustration, and boredom in the air, punctuated by the occasional angry outburst. Customers can wait in line for hours, only to be turned away for lack of proper paperwork (likely after taking off time from work). Those who skim through the process come away elated, not quite believing their luck. Those who arrive without an appointment and/or leave empty handed feel shunted, as though they’ve done something wrong. Staff morale is low, which is understandable. Day after day, agents field the same questions that probably could have been answered online or via posted signage. They’re overworked and like most government employees, are faced with cutbacks in resources and hours, a burden on them and their customers. 2
  • 3. Can the DMV Be Saved? | 2013 Sarah Skaggs CHALLENGE GOALS Fundamentally, both DMV customers and staff share the same goal: complete, accurate, and compliant documentation. A customer’s success and legality depends on having a valid license or registration, as does a DMV employee’s job performance. It’s conceivable that these two sometimes adversarial groups could partner to achieve this mutual goal. To do so requires that individuals in each group understand each others’ workflows, pain points, and needs, with the result of a more effective, efficient bureaucracy, as well as an experience that everyone feels good about. Related to this common goal are several specific objectives: • Reduce uncertainty and guesswork • Give customer more control of time and process • Reduce staff workload and “people fatigue” • Reduce crowding, reduce tension • Reduce customer frustration • Create positive interactions between customer and staff • Create trust/confidence in DMV 3
  • 4. Can the DMV Be Saved? | 2013 Sarah Skaggs CURRENT RESEARCH 4 My preliminary research provided some valuable insights into where breakdowns occur and pointed to simple, achievable solutions that could improve the customer experience and overall efficiency. I spoke with three friends who’d made recent visits to the DMV, two with appointments and one without. I also visited the location where I’d received my first California driver’s license and was surprised that little had changed. Customer #1 (G.): After one unsuccessful attempt to pass his driving test, G. returned this week and passed this time. He describes with frustration his initial experience a few months back, having studied for the test, completed all his paperwork beforehand, taken the day off work, only to learn (after waiting in line) that he was missing a crucial piece of information and would need to start the process over. Customer #2 (M.): M. made an online appointment for a California written test and license, To be safe, he called ahead to make sure he had the right documents and paperwork and was told that his former, out-of-state DMV could fax over the necessary documents. M. arrived, waited in two lines for about an hour, and when he met with a DMV agent, was told that the California DMV did not accept faxed documents and wouldn’t know where to find his faxed document within the office. M. described the DMV as a “soulless hell hole.” Customer #3 (B.): Went to the DMV without an appointment to pick up a license plate. Got in line outside to get a number, then waited for two hours for his number to be called. During that time, he noticed that the numbers called had jumped out of sequence, causing him to think he’d missed his number; in fact two sets of numbers were called in parallel. These initial findings, while illuminating, also point to the value of much deeper investigation. A more complete evaluation could include: 1. Week of on-site observation, on the floor and behind the counter 2. Interviews with a range of customers and employees could include: tech- adept/averse; non-native English speaker; first-time DMV customer; elderly customer; 16-year-old customer; disabled; long-time employees; bi-lingual employees; managers; recently hired 3. Day in the Life: Teams move from observation to active participation via completion of range of actual DMV tasks: • Customer seeking information online, making online appointment, waiting in line, meeting with clerk, submitting paperwork, taking test, etc. • Customer going directly to the DMV without an appointment or prior research, navigating process • Assisting DMV staff member with common duties 4. Team-led scenarios with real DMV customers and staff: • Call between DMV customer and employee • Employee directing customers • Employee processing paperwork • Customer waiting in line • Customer needing to return due to incomplete paperwork FUTURE RESEARCH
  • 5. Can the DMV Be Saved? | 2013 Sarah Skaggs OBSERVATIONS 5 From my interviews and recent visit, I learned that depending on a customer’s intent for the visit, he/she may travel through two to three waiting zones before reaching an agent: Wait 1: Non-appointment customers form a line, usually starting outside the building, to reach an information desk, where they are assessed for the necessary forms. Appointment customers go directly to check in at different information desk to receive a priority number, once forms are assessed. Wait 2: A large seating area filled with both appointment and non- appointment customers, all waiting for their number to be called via a loudspeaker and overhead display, at which point they are directed to the next available agent’s window. Wait 3: Customers needing a license photo, written test, or vision exam will wait in a third line. Based on these observations, I identified several common paint points: • Customers have no sense of number of lines ahead • Customers have no sense of wait time • Multiple uncoordinated waiting zones make wait time unpredictable • Signage posted around office is reactive, uncoordinated, and non-uniform • Signage has disciplinary tone • Signage discourages non-appointment visits • Information is difficult to find and sometimes inaccurate/contradictory PAIN POINTS
  • 6. Can the DMV Be Saved? | 2013 Sarah Skaggs OBSERVATIONS A Day at the DMV 6 I’ve got my number now. How long before it’s called? Can I leave and come back? I’m in the right line. Now what? The next appointment was in two weeks and I couldn’t wait that long. Waiting to get in. Am I in the right line? Everyone looks miserable here. It’s my turn! Hope everything is in order...
  • 7. Can the DMV Be Saved? | 2013 Sarah Skaggs OBSERVATIONS Successful DMV Visit: Current 7 i Correct, Complete Documentation & Paperwork; Passed Written Test, Photo Taken, etc.DMV Agent START WAIT NO. 1 Wait in Check-in Line WAIT NO. 2 Wait for Number to be CalledCheck in and Receive Number WAIT NO. 3 Wait for Written or Eye Test, Photo, etc. DMV Agent Correct, Complete Documentation, Paperwork and Fees 7
  • 8. Can the DMV Be Saved? | 2013 Sarah Skaggs OBSERVATIONS Unsuccessful DMV Visit: Current 8 i DMV Agent START WAIT NO. 1 Wait in Check-in Line WAIT NO. 2 Wait for Number to be CalledCheck in and Receive Number WAIT NO. 3 Wait for Written or Eye Test, Photo, etc. DMV Agent STOPSTOP 8
  • 9. Can the DMV Be Saved? | 2013 Sarah Skaggs YES, THE DMV CAN BE SAVED. HERE’S HOW... 9 Front-Load Customer-DMV Staff Interaction When an airline customer arrives at the airport, check-in and validation takes place upon entering the airport, not at the boarding gate. Similarly, the DMV should concentrate customer interactions early in the journey, so that once customers reach the window agent, it’s simply a matter of finalizing paperwork with signatures and payment. To take the airline metaphor further, the DMV could create a robust concierge zone, staffed by several DMV employees who: • Welcome customers, setting a positive tone from the outset • Answer frequently asked questions, direct customers as needed • Validate documents and paperwork so that if there an error or omission, customer does not need to find out after waiting in subsequent lines, i.e., customers finds out upon arrival if they can proceed or not • Assist with making appointments for future visit The concierge zone could also feature: • Computer stations where customers enter basic profile information, thereby reducing time and errors (currently customers hand-complete forms, which are then entered into the database by agents) • Option for self check-in and online appointment scheduling (security permitting) Strive for More Transparency, Process-Wide Generally, customers are more accommodating of inconveniences if they understand—sooner than later—what to expect and the source of the inconvenience, as this affords some control over their own experience. To that end, the DMV could improve its on-site communication in several ways: • Provide customers with clear expectations via coordinated, prominent signage posted in highly visible areas throughout the facilities, including outside • Provide customers with an approximate wait time on their number ticket so they are free to leave, with the understanding that if they do not return by their call time, they forfeit their place in line • Follow the restaurant industry’s lead and provide automated texts or calls when a customer’s number is approaching
  • 10. Can the DMV Be Saved? | 2013 Sarah Skaggs PROPOSED SOLUTION Concierge Zone 10 Take Exam(s), Photo Taken, Sign & Receive Authorized DMV Paperwork Concierge Zone i START STOP i DMV Agent DMV Agent WAIT NO. 1 Wait in Check-in line Ask Questions Check In Validate Forms, Documents & Fees Receive Number & Wait Time Make a Return Appointment i SelfCheck-In Check In Receive Number & Wait Time Make a Return Appointment If Forms, Documents, or Fees Incomplete, Customer May Make a Future Appointment before Leaving WAIT NO. 2 Wait for Number to be Called, or Automated Notification WAIT NO. 3 Wait for Written or Eye Test, Photo, etc. Pay Fees, Sign & Receive Authorized DMV Paperwork
  • 11. DMV 2013 | 2013 Sarah Skaggs CONCLUSION 11 The Department of Motor Vehicles has a great opportunity on its hands. By learning how and where customers and staff spend their time while on site, the DMV has the potential to transform its on-site experience and create a loyal customer base. Further, such changes do not necessarily require more funding, staff, technology, or information. Quite the contrary, these goals can be attained by leveraging and redistributing existing resources: • Shift focus and number of agents from end of customer journey process to beginning • Build on existing technologies to provide automation and notifications wherever possible • Reorganize and focus on-site communications, unify and simplify messaging
  • 12. Can the DMV Be Saved? | 2013 Sarah Skaggs Thank you! 12