As many will be aware, Mary Reilly, non executive director at DfT, published a review of DVLA last year. One of her recommendations was that we need to understand our customer segments a bit better.
This recommendation coincided with some criticism at the Transport Select Committee from some of our motoring industry customers that our services were too focused on the citizen. There was also internal recognition that whilst we have conducted user research around specific products, services or channels in the past, we've never looked at our services holistically from the user perspective.
There was also broad recognition that up until recently our services were developed based primarily around a business need or legislative requirement, with user needs at the back of the queue and sometimes replaced by our own assumptions. In short, not a pretty picture!
DVLA's in-house customer research team
Fast forward to where we are now. . . as an in-house customer research team created in DVLA about 10 years ago, we continue to engage with our commercial segment to understand their very diverse needs. We're doing this general research with stakeholders and partners alongside extensive usability testing of prototypes being created through the 2 DVLA exemplar service developments. So far it looks like it's all about data for our industry users, but we have a lot more research to go!
Consumer focus groups
On the consumer or citizen front, alongside our traditional research methods (which mainly consist of surveys and usability testing) we're into the second week of a 5 week exercise across the country, in 46 locations holding 62 focus groups with every type of customer you can imagine. We're already hearing some powerful stuff around anything from payment methods to penalty points and from enquiries to entitlements, straight from source.
What information are we getting from customer focus groups?
Some of the perceptions that the public have about DVLA’s role have been fascinating and we're capturing detailed information about how different types of customers want to use our services in the future.
The other things we're capturing which help us to tell these stories and establish the many and varied user needs that exist around our services, are individual experiences impacts when things go wrong. For example, the first hand impact of even a short delay in getting a driving licence back to a self-employed vocational driver, or the more general reduced confidence in all government online services as a result of rogue websites.
We're also hearing from our assisted digital customers about how they've been affected following the closure of DVLA's local offices.
We've been asked about everything from abolition of the tax disc and Direct Debit, right up to what DVLA services would look like in an independent Scotland.
All of this information is valuable to us as an organisation in delivering a set of services to our varied customer base that are both meaningful to them, and easy to use.
So far we've been to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Aberdeen, Dundee, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sunderland, Blackpool, Sheffield, Leeds and York – with another 36 towns and cities to follow!
How are we going to use this feedback?
The feedback from these focus groups will be used to help develop and improve our services, we'll keep you informed on the progress of these developments on this blog.