It’s All In Hand

It’s All In Hand

New technologies are helping DMV contact centers operate more efficiently and provide better quality service to customers

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Conducting DMV business has gotten much easier for customers. Thanks to newer technologies and social media, customers can communicate with contact center staff through a variety of channels, while self-service options like kiosks and web platforms enable them to look up information on their own without visiting a facility or speaking to an agent by phone. The result is a more satisfying DMV customer experience.

“DMVs are the face of the government in most states. Leaders recognize that they need to provide a better customer experience,” says Jay Pederson, principal with Insights Ops Consulting. “With better technologies and automation, DMVs can save money and reduce the workload for contact center staff. If people can call about a problem or process documents online, it saves them from having to visit the physical location.”

The first step for any modernization effort, Pederson says, is to assess the contact center’s existing operations. How are calls being handled? Can staff handle the call volume? Is the existing CRM system working efficiently? With those answers, you can research technology options that best suit your contact center needs and budget. “Technology costs money, so it’s important to get leaders and staff to buy in to the project,” he says.

Transitions rarely run smoothly, and each DMV contact center will face its own unique challenges. MOVE Magazine looked at three jurisdictions —Kentucky, Maryland and California—to learn how their DMV contact centers successfully migrated from aging systems to efficient, multi-functional solutions that are providing better, faster service to customers.

Kentucky’s Seamless Transition

When the Kentucky Department of Vehicle Regulation (DVR) took on the responsibility of driver licensing services from 140 issuing locations in 2020, the DMV contact center’s antiquated system couldn’t handle the influx of calls. Hold times averaged 20 to 40 minutes. “The original vendor didn’t have the capacity to support the contact center staff nor did it have the next generation of technology to upgrade the system,” says Matt Cole, commissioner of the Kentucky DVR.

The agency chose a solution through Amazon Web Services (AWS) that was customized with features like live chat and automated responses. Since rolling out the new system in April 2022, Cole says caller wait times have fallen to single digits.

“This system was built from a customer-centered perspective and provides multiple communications channels that customers can use, such as chat, website, social media or texting,” says Michael Miller, director of the Customer Service Division.

One of those features is the Q&A bot that interprets callers’ questions and searches for solutions from the system’s knowledge base, which contains hundreds of possible issues and responses. With more calls being handled by the Q&A bot, Miller says agents are handling fewer calls and are spending less time on the phone, though call volume has remained the same as before.

The live chat feature on the DMV website allows agents to handle several customer interactions at one time. When visiting the site, customers can type their question in the open chat window. “Agents may have as many as five chat windows open at one time to handle multiple inquiries,” Cole says.

But the transformation is far from over. The agency plans to integrate databases from the regional offices handling driver licenses by the end of the year. “As AWS adds new features, we’ll review them to see how they might benefit customers and the vehicle regulation office,” Miller says.

Cole attributes the successful product launch to the planning that took place beforehand. “Our team spent nine weeks mapping out every possible interaction and call route that our agents might receive,” Cole says. “With AWS’s capabilities and our team’s knowledge, we were able to ramp up quickly with few hiccups.”

Maryland’s 360° View of Customers

Before the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA) introduced its new system in 2021, its previous mainframe legacy system was cumbersome and outdated. With hundreds of different programs operating separately, searching customer records was often complicated and time consuming. If a customer called about their vehicle registration, for example, the agent could only access the registration program, but they wouldn’t see other records related to their driving history, recalls Chrissy Nizer, administrator with Maryland MVA and past chair of AAMVA’s International Board of Directors.

Funding for the system modernization had already been approved, so when the pandemic hit, the agency could proceed, although pre-launch testing was done remotely and the rollout was delayed by two months.

“On the positive side, having the new system gave staff more tools to work with to help customers,” Nizer says. Headquarters employees who worked a split telework schedule during the pandemic could access the new platform when they worked from home.

By providing a 360° view of customers, searching records is easier because all their information is contained in one central place. “Agents also can see where customers are stuck with a problem online and provide assistance remotely,” Nizer says.

Another aspect of the modernization is the launch of MyMVA, a self-service platform that enables customers to access their own records online. When a customer logs in, they can check their vehicle registration, upload documents or renew their driver’s license. Nizer says because customers are finding the information for themselves through their MyMVA account, phone inquiries have decreased.

“Our goal is to resolve customer calls at first contact,” Nizer says. “By providing the right tools and technologies, employees are empowered to deliver quality service to our customers.”

California’s Multi-Program Integration

When California’s governor appointed Steve Gordon as the Director of the California Department of Motor Vehicles in July 2019, modernizing the DMV contact center and field offices became a priority.

“The platforms in use at the time were inflexible and the vendors weren’t responsive about making minor changes,” Gordon recalls. “It was difficult to access customer data and we didn’t know why customers were calling. We only knew the length of the calls,” Gordon says.

When the Real ID was introduced, DMV staff faced long lines. A chat bot helped triage incoming calls. “Once we saw how easy it was to address questions that way, we made it a permanent feature,” says Sonia Huestis, deputy director of the Customer Services Division with the California DMV.

After two previous system migrations failed to meet the contact center’s needs, the agency negotiated a proof of concept with AWS, which allowed a pilot group of contact center agents to test the proposed features of its Amazon Connect platform during the pandemic. Launched in 2021, the cloud-based solution integrates multiple programs into one system, including a CRM system, chat bot and knowledge base. In the CRM system, agents can jot notes about customers’ calls for easier follow up, and they can send links for the DMV’s digital services so customers don’t have to visit an office, Huestis says.

Numerous features were configured into the Amazon Connect, such as Contact Lens, a conversation analytics tool that categorizes calls to better understand why customers are calling. Agent Whisper cuts out the storytelling that sometimes occurs and reduces handle time. “As agents begin speaking with the customer, a voice whispers in their ear what the customer is calling about,” Huestis says.

Balanced Scorecard merges data from various operational support tools so team members and supervisors can review an agent’s performance, work schedule, attendance record and training. It also tracks real-time customer feedback. Instead of sending a postcard, customers receive a text message or QR code that links to a brief survey. The customer satisfaction score is then recorded on the Balanced Scorecard.

“In the past, if agents couldn’t resolve the customer’s problems, they’d have to transfer the call,” Gordon says. “With modern systems and practices, we can identify and track emerging issues as they arise and respond more rapidly, either by providing additional staff training or addressing the root cause of the problem so customers no longer experience the underlying issue.”

The Future of Contact Centers

As new technologies develop, contact centers of the future will expand their multi-channel offerings, including self-service kiosks and video chat. Artificial intelligence may play a bigger role, too, by providing more complete solutions than traditional chat formats and obtaining solutions from the knowledge base in real time.

But don’t expect AI to replace contact center staff any time soon. “You can’t stop AI from happening, but you can put in security measures to control it,” Pederson says. “It’s meant to augment your work force, not replace it.”

Learn more about Contact Centers in AAMVAcast Episode 150 here:

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