In 1995, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) determined that the department was no longer capable of meeting its customer service goals. The management determined there were:
- numerous customer complaints at all facilities, and
- high levels of stress both for customers in the facility and employees.
A solution for this problem was found using a queueing theory software program. The goals for this program were to provide:
- DMV with a new image,
- an effective management tool,
- improved customer satisfaction,
- employee empowerment,
- an average wait time of 15 minutes,
- a maximum wait time of 30 minutes, and
- an average service time of 7 minutes.
The developer of the program separated the service categories into 6 different kinds using the criteria: (a) the complexity of the job and (b) the length of time needed to process the job.
In practice, the new system was designed to have customers form one or two lines upon entering the building. The server(s) for the line(s) assesses the customer's request for service and assigns a ticket on which each job is letter-coded by type. Also on this ticket is a number representing the order in which customers will be called for service within this job category. Customers are also provided with a clipboard and all the paperwork needed for their job. A seating area is also provided for customers. This arrangement disguises the actual queue length and contributes to a more effective and relaxed climate for customers.
Each service station is provided with an electronic display of the coded ticket of the customer being served. A voice pager has been added to alert customers to their turn and the proper window to go to for service.
The manager of each DMV office can access the present traffic conditions in their facility and adjust the program parameters so that service can be improved. For example, an increase in the number of requests for vehicle titles would trigger a change in the frequency of service for this job.
This is a rather complex model, but the results have made a remarkable improvement in:
- the perception of customers about the efficiency of service,
- the actual time of service, and
- the number of customers served per unit of time.
For example, in February 1997, in the Arlington, Virginia DMV facility, 17,929 customers were served with an average wait time of 21 minutes. After the implementation of the new system in Arlington, in February 1998, 20,843 customers were served with an average wait time of 10 minutes, 12 seconds. A by-product of the new system is a decrease in employee stress.