I've spent a lot of time recently at the Department of Licensing. Standing. Sitting. Waiting. Watching. Reading. Working. Going a little stir crazy actually. 7 hours of it.
My goal was a driver's license for my teen. I had no idea what all it was going to involve and how many things I would learn in the process.
The government does not allow companies to become monopolies when they don't serve the best interests of the consumers. Instead, they want to foster an environment of healthy competition where businesses are driven to work hard to win customer business.
After my 7-hour sentence, I completely understand why this practice is in the best interest of the consumer.
Being an avid believer and active participant in the private sector, I watched some amazing things during this experience that just stunned me. If we ran our businesses like this, we wouldn't have businesses.
- On our first visit we used a self-serve computer to get our number so we could sit and wait for it to be called. On the next visit, they had replaced the self-service station with a desk and a person – a person who barked orders, and then refused to answer questions, saying, "I can't do that, it's not my job".
- The office opens at 8:30, and after working for close to 2 hours, the entire staff went on break for 20 minutes – with over 75 people sitting and waiting to be helped.
- After meeting all the requirements to get a license, we called to make an appointment for the driving test as instructed on the web site....only to be told that we had to GO INTO the office to schedule the appointment. We can't do it over the phone because we have to pay a fee – in person – before we can schedule the test.
- On the final visit after passing the driving test, it was a 2 ½ hour wait to have a photo taken. Yes, 2 ½ hours to wait for the 3 minutes to take the photo and print the temporary paper license. It was during this dreadful wait that I actually started applauding for people whose number was called.
- "Our promise: We'll be friendly and helpful - every time" This is the pledge the Department of Licensing has printed on a plaque hanging on its wall. It's also on their comment forms. They did, for the most part, meet their apparent minimum expectations of not being rude. On the comment card – which I took after the license was issued – it repeats the promise and asks simply if you were treated in a friendly and helpful manner. No other questions. That's not their promise and apparently not their job.
Perhaps we need a process review
Clearly somewhere along the line, the DOL reviews their processes and decides to make changes. What I cannot understand is how they come to the conclusion that the processes they've created are efficient or that they "serve the best interests" of the customer, or even themselves.
Watching the behaviors of the employees and the incredible inefficiency makes it very clear that they don't enjoy their jobs and every customer is merely a nuisance in their day.
What incentive do they have to create a better system that would better serve their customers?
None. There is no competition. They can behave how they want. They can run the business how they want. And because there is no other option for the customer, they can choose to work with you or they can choose to make it very difficult for you.
What if you ran your business like this? How many customers would you have?
None. Because they would go to the competition.
It's so unfortunate that everyone doesn't get to feel the thrill and excitement of having a truly awesome and inspiring job. But then, no one says the government's businesses can't be run with the ideas and attitudes of spirited entrepreneurs. They can be if that's what they chose to do. But honestly, running a business like that is hard. It takes guts and risk and a lot of hard work to create a business that is competitive, inspiring, innovative, and makes customers actually want to do business with you.
But this disastrous way of running these government businesses is apparently how it's done, and why would someone want to shake up the status quo?
This is just a driver's license that we have to get every 6 years or so. Imagine if they ran the healthcare system that we had to depend on day in and day out?