Lessons in Customer Service from a Recovering DMV

Infini Kimbrough
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For decades, the DMV has been the last place anyone would look for customer service tips. This hasn't just been a problem in a few states; the delays, obstructions, and generally unhelpful service you get when you have to visit the DMV office have been running jokes across America for decades. Lately, however, things have started to change. Reeling from the bad press, and presumably tired of being the butt of endless running gags, DMV offices across the country have adopted a new customer service strategy that's aimed at reversing the negative public image of the department.

The first step in the new customer service strategy has been to break down tasks into individual steps in an effort to smooth out the workload. Any customer service veteran is no doubt familiar with the usual office pattern of two or three people handling the bulk of the work while a dozen or so other employees simulate work at their desks. The new strategy puts an end to that by assigning smaller, more easily duplicated tasks to every employee. Giving out numbers, processing routine requests, and administering more complex issues are now assigned to individuals, whereas the old method just handed the work to whichever employee looked available at the time.

This has led to more than just greater accountability. The DMV offices in several states have adopted the maxim of both gunslingers and the best customer service tips—fast is good, but accuracy wins. While most customer service tips presume a streamlined workflow, few mention the most important factor in increasing the speed of customer service—addressing the customer's issues and moving on smoothly. As customer service tips go, this may seem obvious, but the ability to request an ID card, register to vote, and change your address on one form, with the option to get vanity plates and pay a fine while you're at the window, has the potential to eliminate half a dozen separate trips to the DMV.

The Internet is your friend when you want to improve service. Obviously, customer experience is improved by having fewer people in line ahead of you. Each service that the DMV has made available online has eliminated scores of visitors from its lines and shaved hours off errand times for customers. All customer service tips aside, there's nothing that promotes fast service quite like most people not needing service at all, and the Internet facilitates that.

Over the years, DMVs in several states have gotten their acts together to satisfy the public. While nobody really enjoys visiting the DMV, the department is increasingly making it possible to either avoid the counter entirely or substantially speed up the visit. The DMV has taken customer service tips to heart and is leading where others only follow.



(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)


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