In 2019, we started tracking customer experience reviews across all California DMV offices. This is our first report on those findings. We're pleased to announce the good news: The California DMV has been getting higher marks from their customers over the last year. Below we report our findings, which includes customer ratings for the busiest DMV offices in California. 

 

California DMV offices have improved to a 4.2 star rating over the past 3 months

According to YoGov data, which comes from the folks we assist for DMV services, California DMV field offices have averaged a rating of 4.2 stars out of 5 stars over the past 3 months. 4.2 stars are high! If that was a restaurant on Yelp you’d probably be interested in going to it. It’s certainly higher than most people expect when it comes to DMV services. Our data from earlier in the year had the overall DMV rating between 3.5 and 4 stars.

We’ve published our first California DMV customer experience report for 2 reasons: It’s important to focus on the improvements that the largest DMV in the country is making and consumers need to have insight into this.

The California DMV has faced intense scrutiny over the past 2 years, which has included state audits, criticism by Governor Gavin Newsom, sacking of the former DMV commissioner, RealID issuance problems, and as always, extremely long lines. 

Our mission as a third-party is to help people navigate government services and also to highlight where governments are innovating themselves. In 2019, the DMV’s monthly reports to the State have highlighted wait time improvements and increasing customer satisfaction. And our independent data can back that up.

 

The Best California DMVs According to Locals - Winter 2020

The Walnut Creek DMV office has the highest customer rating with 4.9 stars

Shout-out to the Walnut Creek DMV field office which came in with the highest cumulative rating total over the last 3 months, at 4.9 stars out of 5 stars rating. It’s like the Michelin-rated DMV. Here are two customer reviews of their Walnut Creek experience:

 

“They were unexpectedly amazing, very helpful and kind. Surprised myself and my brother.”

“I had a driving test with Anavictoria, she was great, kind, full of energy, I’ll never forget her.”

 

Rounding out the top-rated DMV’s over the last 3 months were the Santa Teresa DMV, San Jose DMV, San Diego DMV, San Francisco DMV, and Oakland Claremont DMV.

 

Customers experiences still vary greatly by DMV location and DMV employee

As we mentioned, we were pleasantly surprised by the higher than expected DMV marks. Quantitatively and qualitatively we have seen marked improvements with the DMV over the past year. We’re happy we can be a small part of that. 

However, for many respondents, this was either the best DMV experience of their life or the worst DMV experience of their life. Here are three of the negative comments directed at DMV employees, ranging from hilarious to shocking:

“Do not get Stacy as your examiner ... I have met friendlier pit bulls”

“I was verbally abused by the person in front. She repeatedly cut me off while I tried to explain myself and at one point said “Where’s your visa? How did you get into this country?” I felt I was mistreated because I’m an immigrant even though I had brought the documents to prove my status.”

“They love to talk and laugh among each other in front of the public. They laugh about our wait, the fact that the camera keeps stalling, come back in half an hour.  My appointment was for 10:40. I arrived at 10:30. I left the DMV building after 1 p.m. It is torture and an unnecessary ordeal.”

And here are three of the wow comments: 

“Maybe I was just lucky but I had the best DMV experience in my life. Everyone was so nice to me and kept asking them what is going on here... Someone who previously experienced a typical DMV "service" would know what I'm talking about. I hope the Los Angeles DMV location will keep up good services and will improve that 2,5 star Google rating soon.”

“Honestly, I was amazed at how friendly and helpful all of the DMV employees were.  They went out of their way to help me and make the experience quick and positive. Thank you.”

“Very impressed with the organization at the Fremont, CA location.  Also, the employees were more friendly than at other locations.”

 

Over 90% of respondents had a very positive experience with YoGov

Over 90% of respondents were “very happy” or “extremely happy” with their YoGov service, which included helping people with Real ID documents, assisting people with DMV appointments, helping people take their road test, and standing in line for people at the DMV.

Those other 10%? They were mostly neutral or just “satisfied”. We’ll work on wowing them next time!

When people selected what they most liked about YoGov the common themes were “the customer support”, “the information provided ahead of time”, “the website experience”, and “the fast appointment.”

 

Here’s how we conducted the California DMV surveys and what you can expect next

This data was based on over 1000 DMV customer responses from November 2019 to January 2020. After they used us for a service - whether for a DMV visit, a road test car and driver, or a line concierge service, we send customers a follow-up email to learn about their experience and if they still need help.

In October 2019 we added more questions, which included specific questions about their experience with DMV employees. We wanted to learn more about not just how we were doing but how their interactions with DMV staff were too and if there was room for improvement.

We plan to publish DMV data similarly for other states and we plan to do this a few times a year. Our mission as a private company has always been to increase consumer’s positive impression of government services and fill in the gaps that exist. We believe data and information sharing is core to this.

To see some of the full survey data, including the questions we asked and all of the customer comments, see the full report here.

If you’re interested in learning more about this study, email us at [email protected]

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