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Louisiana OMV Uses Appointment System to Streamline Services

The Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles has adopted new technology to better manage the flow of customers and transactions through its offices in the midst of the disruptive COVID-19 pandemic.

Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles in January 2019
Customers at a Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles office in January 2019.
Perhaps no other state agency interacts more directly with residents than the department of motor vehicles. It can also be — with its history of long lines and Byzantine paperwork — the bane of its motorist customers.

In Louisiana, the new appointment system that was adopted largely to ensure safe operations during the COVID-19 crisis is making a trip to the Office of Motor Vehicles less draining.

“Improving customer service is absolutely in our mission. It is part of our strategic plan. This has immensely helped in accomplishing that, and getting us closer to something where people are not afraid to show up at our offices,” said Keith Neal, assistant deputy commissioner for the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles. “This has helped us improve our image immensely. And I think, in a way, improved the state’s image.”

In June last year, the state began using the appointment management software AppointmentPlus, by DaySmart. Initially, the software was rolled out in three of the highest-traffic locations. It has since been expanded to about 40 locations. The state operates 79 offices, though some of the most rural locations are not open full time, but only a few days a week.

“For those offices, we really don’t use the appointment software there. At least, not yet,” Neal remarked.

The software was deployed largely to help OMV comply with distancing protocols put in place during the COVID-19 pandemic. In short, the agency could not operate with hundreds of motorists and others waiting for untold lengths of time in OMV offices to conduct the many transactions the license and registration office is charged with overseeing. The approach taken by OMV during the pandemic was to schedule all visits to the offices.

The software allows the public to select the office they want to visit, identify the type of transaction they want handled, and then pick a day and time for the appointment, said Matthew Boudreaux, public information director for the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles. Transactions that are more complicated are given a longer appointment time.

“It’s about six simple steps that anyone can do, even if they’re not computer savvy or technology savvy. It’s a simple, efficient process that’s really helped us,” said Boudreaux.

Aside from having the overall flow of transactions through OMV locations run smoother — and safer, thanks to the distancing protocols the system imposes — improved customer relations may be the takeaway that most resonates with drivers.

“We have received unprecedented amounts of feedback — positive feedback — for going to appointments,” said Neal.

“Obviously, our customers are extremely happy. I don’t think this is specific to Louisiana, I think motor vehicle departments across the nation are probably the bane of a lot of peoples’ existence,” he added.

Like many motor vehicle departments, some tasks with Louisiana OMV — namely in the form of renewals — have migrated online, and no longer require drivers to physically come into the local office.

“It depends on the status of your license and whether you came into the office for your previous renewal,” said Neal.

Other tasks like canceling a license plate or renewing vehicle registration can also be accomplished online.

Meanwhile, the state now issues digital driver’s license credentials known as the LA Wallet, which can also now include vaccination status. More than 1 million residents now have a digital driver’s license, while more than 460,000 residents have their COVID-19 vaccination card also included in the digital wallet, according to Envoc, the software platform supporting the technology.
Skip Descant writes about smart cities, the Internet of Things, transportation and other areas. He spent more than 12 years reporting for daily newspapers in Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and California. He lives in downtown Sacramento.
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