I don’t imagine too many people expect good customer service at the Division of Motor Vehicles. It’s a state-run agency, staffed by people who get paid by the hour and whose productivity is barely measured, if at all. In short, there’s no reason for customer service to exist at the DMV.

My driver’s license was set to expire soon, and I received renewal instructions from the NJDMV/NJMVS. Last week, I went on the NJDMV/NJMVS web site to check the hours of operation at the agency location nearest me, and after finding that the NJDMV/NJMVS had recently moved the office I’ve used for about twenty years arrived at the new NJDMV/NJMVS location at 3:20 in the afternoon, well ahead of their 4:30 closing time.

I came prepared for a long wait, and there was quite a line. And the armed policeman assigned to guard the NJDMV/NJMVS against . . . I’m not quite sure what . . . turned me away.

I guess it wasn’t such a terrible thing that I needed to go back another day considering that when I did there was no line; I was in and out of the NJDMV/NJMVS office in about thirty minutes, including seeing five different people, three of whom did what looked like exactly the same thing when they checked and re-checked my identification before issuing me a new license.

Here’s the customer service problem:

First, if there’s a policy that NJDMV/NJMVS agency offices will only service as many people as can be processed during their official hours of operation, then that policy needs to be posted in the same place those hours are posted. It was not. And it’s not as though the NJDMV/NJMVS web site is outdated; as I mentioned above, they’ve kept up with things like recent office closings.

Second, the young man with the gun who turned me away, while not exactly rude about it, explained the situation to me by lecturing me about the horrible budget shortfalls in New Jersey, and stated that with no overtime allowed they had no choice but turn people away when they see that more people have arrived than can be serviced. OK, I accept that, except for the part where they didn’t bother explaining that matter ahead of time.

Oh, and except for this part, too:

On the day I returned I arrived twenty minutes before the NJDMV/NJMVD agency was closing, was inside for thirty minutes, and was far from the last person out. Which means that overtime is allowed. I was lied to.

Customer Service cannot be about lies.

Make no mistake: delivering good customer service is expensive, and difficult. but lying to your customers about the service they can expect is never the right choice. It actually makes your customer service efforts more expensive.

Now here’s the real NJDMV/NJMVS customer service tragedy:

NJDMV-NJMVS-Jeff-Yablon-2006

The handsome devil you see here wasn’t photographed last week. At the final stage of getting my license renewed, the camera-wielding next-to-last person I dealt with at the NJDMV/NJMVS asked me if I wanted to use the same photo that was already on file from 2006. Sure, I said; I’ll turn back the clock four years any time I have the chance!

So here’s the thing: up until four years ago, I hadn’t been inside an NJDMV/NJMVS office to renew my license once in the thirty-plus years I’ve been driving. For a long time, photographs were optional on New Jersey Driver’s Licenses, and it was only the addition of them that made a visit to the NJDMV/NJMVS office necessary. And I had to go back in again this time around, to get my photograph re-taken. And then it wasn’t taken at all.

The customer service was bad, after making the trip turned out to be unnecessary, making the customer service bad again. And that’s only the part that bothers me, personally. But then five different people spent time with me, when the whole process could have been handled quickly by one person, or computerized entirely. In the interest of delivering bad customer service the NJDMV/NJMVS wasted a bunch of money, too.

That’s not customer service. Welcome to The Answer Guy’s Customer Service Wall of Shame, NJDMV/NJMVS.

You aren’t doing customer service this way, are you?

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