Thursday, June 14, 2007

Living in DC: 5 Ideas to Make My Friendly Neighborhood DMV More Customer-Friendly

To renew my driver's license, I spent close to two hours this afternoon at the Georgetown DMV office -

10 minutes waiting in line to get a form and number from the person at the first counter.
5 minutes waiting to take the eye test and pay the fee.
95 minutes waiting to get my picture taken.

Here are some ways I came up with to remedy the situation - developed during the standing-in-line part, as I was reading The 4-Hour Work Week while I waited to be photographed:

1. Distribute numbers the way they do at the deli. Hook it up to a computer, and remove the need for a live person handing out each slip of paper.

2. Mount the forms on wall racks. They've already got the forms available online. You may ask, "why didn't you just run the form off at home?" I experienced computer problems when I tried - my problem. However, I would still have to wait in line for the number.

3. Designate more "information kiosk" staff during the crush time - which will always be the lunch hours. They can help those people who need to do more than fill out the form. I'll gladly stand in line if I have specific questions.

4. Buy more cameras. There was only one, which caused the 90-minute bottleneck.

5. Track lighting. Fluorescent lighting screams "YOU'RE STUCK IN A BUREAUCRACY OF OUR CREATION AND WE DON'T CARE!"

I did have one good experience today, when I called the DMV number with a question. The employee at the other end (I didn't get her name) quickly and accurately gave me the information I needed.

Still, I'm going to forward this post to the DC DMV and see if they can use any of my suggestions. I fully expect to hear back from them something along the lines of "The lunch hours are always our most busy times of the day. Customers should be aware that they may be required to wait for services. If you can plan on arriving at off hours, the DMV will most likely be able to handle your request more quickly."

I'm sure the DMV knows when they'll be swamped with people. And if they know what the problem times are, they can do something about it. Like institute one of my ideas, or better yet, come up with their own. I'll bet DMV employees, being on the front lines, have a wealth of ideas to bring to the table. They may never have been asked.

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