Pride and Shame at the DMV

Could DMVs be in the process of becoming models of customer service? Don't laugh -- states such as Virginia and Indiana have already turned departments ...
by | October 5, 2008

Could DMVs be in the process of becoming models of customer service? Don't laugh -- states such as Virginia and Indiana have already turned departments of motor vehicles into models of efficiency.

As I found out at Managing Performance, the latest state to join the list is Georgia, where Joe Doyle, who heads Gov. Sonny Perdue's Office of Customer Service, reported that wait times at Georgia Motor Vehicle Division offices are down from hours to minutes. Doyle attributed the success to changes such as earlier opening times at the offices and a shift of phone-answering responsibilities from frontline employees to call centers.

Some of those changes came from employee suggestions. MVD employees, as much as anyone, wanted service to improve. Doyle said that before the improvements the agency's workers wouldn't go out to eat on their lunch breaks because they were ashamed to be seen in their MVD shirts.

That sad story reminded me of a far more positive remark about DMV employment that I heard a few months ago from an official in Virginia state government. He said that new DMV employees are routinely asked why they wanted the job.

A common answer was something like this: "I'm a former bank teller, but wanted to help people get something they actually need, rather than trying to sell them something they don't want." I've never really thought of DMV work as a rewarding career, but, when you think about it, it makes sense.

So, the next time a bank goes bankrupt, don't think of it as another crippling blow to our faltering economy. Think of it as an opportunity for thousands of unhappy bank employees to get jobs where they can make a difference: the DMV.

Josh Goodman
Josh Goodman  |  Former Staff Writer
mailbox@governing.com  | 

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