HUNTERSVILLE – Every 16-year-old anticipates the trip to the DMV to get their license until they find themselves waiting several hours to take the driving test.
N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory, N.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Tony Tata and the DMV devised a plan to reform the new Huntersville DMV office based on the voice of the customer.
The beginnings of the plan began in March when Tata and his team carried out a market survey to investigate what people want.
“DMV services have changed very little in the past decade,” McCrory said. “This isn’t what our N.C. customers deserve.”
The new Huntersville building opened April 7 and replaces the old North Tryon Street location in Charlotte.
The DMV reform enriches the customer experience through improved customer service, efficiency and technology. To do this, employees receive customer service training.
“Our long-term goal is strategic and creative. We want to fix the DMV and make it more customer friendly,” McCrory said. “We promise to bring a customer-service mentality."
As part of the reform initiatives, the Huntersville DMV location features Highway Patrol offices, drivers license issuance, vehicle registration, titling services, administrative hearings and License and Theft Bureau activities.
Additionally, the new DMV expands office hours during the week and over the weekend.
“Our Saturday program has been a success,” McCrory said. “People do not have to take off work and school and can focus on their weekly priorities.”
The Saturday hours brought an additional 41,000 customers to several DMV locations in the state – a major increase from the past year.
“The whole idea is to create a place where residents can do what they need to do in a shorter amount of time,” Tata said.
In addition to cutting wait times, the DMV also provides a more spacious work and sitting environment, consolidated services and online and mobile services.
Rules have been changed to eliminate any unnecessary testing. For instance, residents from other states and those with expired licenses do not have to retake the written drivers test. Cstomers will eventually have the option to renew their driver’s license online.
DMV employee Larry Espinoza says the DMV is on the way to providing optimal services for its customers.
“We are receiving better responses from our customers, especially since the DMV has always had a bad rap,” Espinoza said. “The new DMV here really streamlines everything.”
Huntersville resident Mike Bennett believes the upgraded DMV to be welcoming and inviting.
“The Huntersville DMV has a positive attitude. It is more open. The DMV used to be so crowded with overworked people,” Bennett said. “It is really exciting for young people especially because they now have a much different experience than before.”
The most challenging obstacle of initiating DMV reform is the budget.
“To expand and reform further to provide rapid services will be hard to do with the existing budget,” Tata said.
Several millions go into managing the reform process in terms of hiring personnel, building infrastructure and websites and redesigning technology.
“The DMV is the poster child for putting people in N.C. first. We will keep updating customer service,” McCrory said. “This is only the beginning for the next generations DMV.”