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Driver services center improving customer service, use of technology
Department of Driver Services examiner Veda Gutowski prepares to ride with Cody Taylor, 18, during a driving examination.

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The Georgia Department of Driver Services is improving its technology and customer services, starting in Gainesville.

The Gainesville DDS Customer Service Center recently hired a new center manager, Adan Palacio. Palacio, who began at the center in July, will help the Gainesville center lead DDS in several new customer service initiatives.

“We identified the Gainesville center as a pilot center, or laboratory if you will, to test new customer service efficiencies and processes for lots of different reasons,” said Susan Sports, public information officer for DDS. “No. 1 was because of the volume of customers and diversity of customers, meaning the different kinds of transactions people are coming in to see us for there.”

The Gainesville customer service center will roll out self-serve licensing kiosks next month, which Sports said should help improve customer satisfaction.

She said the Gainesville center successfully led the department in the implementation of electronic tablets for conducting commercial road tests. The use of tablets helped reduce errors, eliminate fraud and improve efficiency, according to Sports, and all eight commercial driver’s license testing locations in the state followed suit.

The improvements at the Gainesville center have already improved customer service, according to Palacio. The average wait time dropped from 40 minutes in July 2013 to just under 13 minutes this July.

“We’re still improving that,” Palacio said. “From last week I got the numbers and the average was almost eight minutes. It’s one of those things that’s like a roller coaster. Some days they’re good and some days they’re not. But for an average, this is where we’re trying to get.”

Palacio started at the center in early July, and Sports said his hiring is another effort by the center to improve customer service.

“We felt like this was just a great opportunity to have the manager with so much experience come in,” Sports said. “There’s a lot of new changes going on in the center and he’s got a wealth of experience dealing with processes and the customer service application as well.”

Palacio served in the United State Marine Corps for 22 years prior to his hiring. His military occupation specialty was career planning, which meant he worked with a variety of personnel.

“With me dealing with a lot of different personnel, especially lower ranks than I was, it prepared me for customer service,” he said. “... I was doing a lot of interviews, talking to a lot of the military personnel as far as what their options were.”

Palacio said his specialty is interpersonal interaction and helping others, skills necessary for customer service.

“What I used to do, that’s what I do. I interact with people, with customers and try to provide the best service I can provide to them,” he said. “That’s my thing.”