MVD looking online for better customer service

By Argen Duncan: PNT staff writer

Long waits and frustrating automated call systems with the state Motor Vehicle Division could be on their way out, according to the state official overseeing the division.

Secretary of the Taxation and Revenue Department Rick Homans was in Portales on Wednesday to explain plans to put many MVD functions online, streamline office operations and update call center technology.

“What we want to create is as many options as possible for our customers to do business with us,” he said.

Portales MVD office manager Terry Encinias was optimistic about the intended changes.

“I just think it’s going to be good,” she said.

Encinias said the online services would be particularly helpful in Portales because many people from Eastern New Mexico University and Cannon Air Force Base don’t want to come to the office and wait.

A proposal to use substitute clerks when regular clerks are out of the office would also help, she said, because the office only has three employees and many people come in around lunchtime, when some clerks are on break.

In the next few days, Homans said, he expects to sign a contract with the company NIC USA to establish an online platform for citizens to conduct business with the MVD.

“We don’t have anything like this right now,” he said. “So a big move over the next few years will be to move all the services we can online.”

Homans expects the site to be running with some services by October or November.

The Web site is to allow customers to handle vehicle registration, order personalized license plates and make appointments for driver tests.

Also, the Web site will allow the sale of drivers’ license and records information online, as privacy laws allow, Homans said. Detailed laws dictate who can have what information for what purpose, he said.

Businesses such as insurance companies and those that employ a lot of drivers want that information quickly, he said, and safeguards will protect data from people not legally allowed to have it.

Other changes are also planned, all designed to make MVD “work for our customers,” the agency reports.

In field offices, planned improvements include instituting express lanes for simple transactions and having temporary workers fill in when clerks are absent or on their staggered lunch breaks from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. At that time, Homans said, customer volume is the highest, and people see a big line and one clerk.

“They’re inconvenienced,” Homans said.

Homans also wants to collect customer e-mail addresses to automatically communicate information about expiring vehicle registration.

Changes will be implemented in phases to keep wait times from getting too long while employees are learning new procedures, he said.