No one wants to wait in line at the Department of Driver Services.
Last Tuesday, new customer service kiosks, designed to cut down wait times and increase customer service at centers across the state, were installed at the Driver Services center in Gainesville.
Rob Mikell, Department of Driver Services commissioner, said the two kiosks installed at the Gainesville center replaced the counter customers used to approach upon first entering the center.
“We ripped out the counter and had a knee wall that we took out, because we’re trying to get a more open feel,” Mikell said. “So the idea is for us to be here with them and we’ll guide them through the screen.”
Susan Sports, public information officer for the department, said lobby hosts and hostesses now greet customers at the door and offer to help them navigate the kiosks.
The kiosks immediately provide customers with three options; they can select if they are a new Georgia customer, if they need a motor vehicle report or if they are renewing or changing a driver’s license, permit or ID card.
“What we really want is in just within two touches, you can get your ticket with your number,” Mikell said.
Wait times last Thursday were an average two minutes, the slowest day of the week, according to Mikell.
“During lunch, it was terrible, we spiked all the way up to six minutes,” he joked. “... That’s usually one of our challenges and why we like this technology. We’re just trying to get smarter about making sure when our customers come in, we’re meeting demands.”
Sports said customers can also cut down their wait time by filling out applications online before coming into the center, instead of on clipboards once they get there.
Customers can also fill out the applications on their phone while they wait, or on computers in the lobby. The application goes straight to the center’s mainframe, Mikell said, and it is saved for 30 days.
“Ideally, we want the process to start at home or on your phone somewhere,” he said. “You do that electronically, come in here and get your ticket. And the great thing about doing the application at home is you don’t even have to print it on a pretty paper to bring in.”
The center still has paper applications on clipboards for customers who prefer them, but Mikell said Driver Services is striving to find ways to continue streamlining the process and making things faster for customers.
The kiosks are currently only in three locations, though Sports said they will go in more in the next year.
"This is a pilot site, so we rolled it out here first," she said. "There will be 10 other centers, two in each center, primarily in the higher-volume centers like metro Atlanta and Gainesville."
Mikell said he believes the modern customer likes being self-sufficient, and the kiosks help provide that.
"For the most part, customers really like it," said Adan Palacio, center manager. "I have no negative feedback so far, only positive feedback. A lot of the time they just walk in and already know what to do."