3 Reasons Why Customer Service At The DMV Has A Bad Reputation

DMV - Department of Motor Vehicles

DMV – Department of Motor Vehicles

When you think of the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), what comes to mind? Perhaps one or more of these words:

  • Frustration
  • Irritation
  • Anger
  • Annoyance
  • Time Vacuum

Driving is a privilege. Going to the DMV to complete a task is a jail sentence.

Why do we associate so much negativity with such a practical part of our life in the USA?

R E P U T A T I O N

The DMV is like Joan Jett crooning:

An’ I don’t give a damn ’bout my bad reputation!

The DMV doesn’t give a damn because no matter how rude or friendly they are, people will still need them.

But why is the DMV in this position?

After almost a year of working as the Visitor Support Manager for DMV.org, I’m beginning to understand why. Here are my ideas which you may or may not agree with (depending on your last in office license or registration renewal experience).

3 Reasons Why Customer Service at the DMV Has a Bad Reputation

Limitations

The DMV is a government funded agency. The truth is, they are limited financially in what they can and can’t do. Each state oversees their own DMV system, which means that some states may have better self-service websites, call centers or branch offerings than other states.

  • The CA DMV only has one toll-free number to call, resulting in Los Angeles-style traffic phone jams. While they do have a queue call-back option, you’re still waiting for over an hour in some cases.
  • The Ohio BMV is surprisingly set up with an effective online chat system as well as phone and email for their customers.
  • The Nevada DMV has the technology for you to hold your space in line while at an office (so you can go gamble?) then will text you when your number is called.
  • The NJ MVC only offers appointments in 3 locations in the entire state…and only for inspections. Other visits require the “first come, first served” wait-in-a-line-the-size-of-the-Jersey Shore.
  • PennDOT has a phone tree that will keep you listening to an automated message for the same time it will take you to eat and digest 10 cheesesteaks.

So you see, the options vary and many states could definitely hop on the train to improve.

Training & Empowerment

Now we’re getting into the good stuff: why are the representatives so rude at the DMV? We could boil it down to uneducated, unintelligent people and perhaps in some cases, that’s the cold truth. Ideally, there are genuinely good people working at the DMV who want to help people. Or, perhaps I’m just too much of a dreamer?

  • Lack of knowledge base resources equal higher wait times. If they don’t have the ability to find answers for their customers, they may give up faster because they feel helpless. Then, they pour that on the customer.
  • Proper service training can set a representative toward success in their job. Without it, they may feel helpless (yes, that word again) and choose to close off toward the customer because they do not know what to do and have no resources to ask.
  • If the management/leadership team doesn’t care, the representatives won’t care either.

Empathy

Driving can be seen to many as independence. We drive to work to make money to put food on the table for ourselves and our family. Without a license or valid registration on our car, we can’t drive and we’re screwed.

DMV agents deal with high emotionally charged subject matter day in and day out.

If they are not emphatic in nature or they were not guided toward best practices about understanding their customers, they simply will not care.

 

Every so often, I receive visitor stories about positive customer experiences with their local DMV. These stories are like a breath of fresh air!

But sadly, in most cases, I hear the negative side of things.

 

I’m sure there are many, many more reasons why the DMV customer service could use a boost…and I’d really love to hear YOUR feedback! Please leave a comment on this post and share your thoughts!

[custom_author=jenny]

 

 

Jenny is the Customer Experience Manager for PIRCH.com. With over a decade of customer service experience, Jenny has been recognized through social media channels as a thought leader. She is co-founder and a regular contributor on the Customer Service Life. When she's not helping or singing to customers, she can be found making her fiancé laugh, making her niece smile, hanging out her friends or her cat, Taquito, practicing yoga, eating cheese, drinking wine or all of the above at the same time. Be sure to follow her on social media!

5 comments

  • Great post, Jenny! Well Oregon DMV wasn’t much better but it was nice to see the wait times at all locations and drive to a small nearby town that had a short wait time. There were only 2 kiosks! The lady behind the counter still made me want to cry though 🙂

    • Jenny Dempsey

      I am quite delayed in replying here, but hey, thanks for your comments. That’s a bummer about the tears, but I do hope they at least have tissues. 🙂

  • Thanks for your effort!
    I do all within my power to keep my interaction with the DMV on a net-basis (i.e. on-line) however, the last few in-person visits which includes today’s was simply toxic, hostile, and overwhelmingly discouraging. I certainly hope your research yields positive results. Thanks.

    • Jenny Dempsey

      Agree with you on this, Ulises. They definitely need more online services all around the DMV offices. Fingers crossed this happens in the future for us to spare visits to such a toxic environment. Thank you for reading my post and for your great comment 🙂

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