case study (offline): License renewal at the RTA

Eye Test

I went and renewed my drivers license at the RTA this weekend. They have that process down pat now, and although its well supported by technology, its the overall experience that is impressive. Here’s the process:

  1. Receive renewal notice in the mail, includes prefilled form.
  2. User completes form with remaining details
  3. User goes to RTA office
  4. User selects ticket from machine near entrance (options available make it very clear to user which they should select thanks to big label ‘Licenses’ with some additional descriptive text, and other options that are very obviously NOT license related)
  5. User waits (this is the only not-so-great user experience bit… but arriving 20mins before closing on a Saturday can’t help. Probably the equivalent of hitting a site shortly after its been SlashDotted)
  6. User is given feedback as to waiting time as other users numbers are called and shown on digital display.
  7. Users number is called/displayed on digital display (note use of audio to alert all users as queue progresses)
  8. User goes to booth number indicated on digital display
  9. User presents completed form to Customer Service staff and asks to have license renewed.
  10. Customer Service person validates form, checking for incorrect or incomplete data and verifies that all is complete
  11. Customer Service person processes payment
  12. User provides signature for inclusion on license (this is probably the closest thing to an annoying duplication, but understandable given that if instructions were included on original form, user error would probably be incredibly high and this process would need to be duplicated regardless)
  13. User does eyesight test (Customer Service person reveals eye test chart from a cupboard just to their left which is reflected in a mirror which the User can easily see (assuming their eyesight is ok!))
  14. User has photograph taken (take seat just near booth, camera operated by same Customer Service person, Customer Service person is able to direct placement of user’s head etc. and immediately re-take shot if it is particularly unflattering!)
  15. User waits (approx 5 mins.) note: Customer Service person is now free to serve other users. License is produced during this time.
  16. Customer Service person calls User’s name
  17. User collects license.

So, its about a 17 step process that includes some reasonable complex interactions, including conducting an eye test, payment processing, taking a photograph, processing and producing a license, but from a user experience perspective, its a dream. And this is even considering the wait time before and after you see a Customer Service person.

What makes this a good user experience?

From my reflection, its because:

  • Streamlining & Clarity – The process is highly streamlined, the path from beginning to end is very clear
  • Feedback – throughout the process the user is given plenty of feedback as to where they are in the process and how long the process should take, and – importantly – that they are progressing through the process.
  • Efficiency – with the small exception of having to sign twice, it is a highly efficient process with no duplication, no double handling, no requirement to deal with multiple interfaces (Customer Service people), and appropriate use of technology (from the very simple – mirrors! to more complex – on demand licence creation).
  • Immediate gratification – once I go through this process I get my license. On the spot. No waiting for it to be delivered via post or having to come back into the office again.

Getting rid of the waiting time for everyone, all the time is probably an unrealistic demand (unless we want the cost of our licenses to get even more expensive), particularly because the positive user experience pretty much negates the annoyance of the wait time.

Would that all online user experiences be as positive as this!

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