Striking the balance between digital and face-to-face service

27th Jun 2016

For 90% of the population, dealing with the DVLA is a once or twice a year event that is mandatory and can attract penalties if ignored.

“As a starting point, we believe first and foremost in providing a quality service,” says David Hancock, Head of Digital Operations and Data Input. “Also, we know that the easier it is for people to renew their vehicle tax, the more likely they are to comply. Latest estimates show that only 0.6% of the 37 million or so cars on the road don’t have vehicle tax – that’s still £35 million in lost revenue. It also means we spend less on maintenance and support.”

The DVLA has a strong track record when it comes to innovating to make the process of dealing with them easier. In 2004, EVL (Electronic Vehicle Licensing) was introduced to enable motorists to pay vehicle tax online. Five years later, the DVLA launched its Vehicle Tax Line to enable people to tax their vehicle by phone, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Hancock says the DVLA is keen to avoid funnelling taxpayers down one route.

“About 70% of our vehicle tax renewal is done online,” he explains. “Considering 85% of the UK population has internet access, that’s more than 80% of the available audience. While that’s good, we realise we need to have different touch-points.”

To underline the importance of other channels, in 2012, the DVLA awarded a seven-year contract to the Post Office for co-handling many of its services.

The DVLA’s strategy echoes advice set out in Service goes social, a report by the Institute of Customer Service. It shows that a growing number of service interactions are now beginning online, and companies must adopt an “omnichannel” approach to service, integrating multiple platforms, if they are to deliver the seamless experience that customers expect.

“‘We won’t dictate to the public, or try to force them to use a particular channel simply because we want them to,” says Hancock. “We have a remit to be available to all and we will do that. For example, we know that about 31% of people with a disability have never transacted online, so we need to provide channels everyone can access.”

Complaints are rare and services continue to evolve. 

“As time goes on, we’ll aim to remove as many unnecessary processes and documentation as possible,” says Hancock. “Good customer service is about making sure people realise why they need to do something, and then making it as straightforward as possible.”

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