Tax Collector Uses Queue Management to Reduce Wait Times

In 2001 the Alachua County Tax Collector’s office had 64 employees, four computers, and no email. Since then the agency has come a long way, growing to three offices serving more than 200,000 walk-in customers and processing over 265,000 web-based and postal transactions.

Spurred along by a deep commitment to customer service, and the knowledge that they couldn’t rely on instinct to scale, the Tax Collector’s office sought an expert in customer experience management. They wanted hard numbers, industry insight and a system to reduce customer wait times. To achieve their objective they engaged ACF Technologies to design and deploy a citizen engagement platform based on Q-Flow®.

The Challenge

The tipping point came when the office took responsibility for issuing driver’s licenses. Overnight, transaction volumes jumped 56% from 130,918 to 204,896. John Power, the Alachua County Tax Collector, and his team knew they needed to take action. Tax collectors offices already have notoriously long wait times. In some instances, wait times range from between 45 minutes to 90 minutes per customer, with times as high as 3 hours being recorded.

Like most tax collectors offices, Alachua County deals with a broad range of transactions; from the simple issuing of a hunting or fishing licenses, to more complicated matters such as dealing with a revoked driver’s license. However, regardless of the transaction type, the Alachua team wanted to keep wait times below 10 minutes. To achieve their goal, Power knew they would need real-time insight into trends across their operations, including:

  • The ability to evaluate staff training, and ensure that customers are sent to appropriately skilled agents.
  • The ability to measure service times, and understand how much time is deemed reasonable for a given transaction.
  • The ability to spot trends in wait times based on various factors, such as the time of day, the day of the week, the month of the year, all by the specific transaction.
If you think of a football stadium,
filling and emptying twice – four if you
count mail-ins and online, and our
average wait time is 7 minutes and 23
seconds. I think that’s phenomenal.
— John Power, Alachua County Tax Collector

The Solution

To overcome these challenges, Alachua County partnered with ACF Technologies to implement Q-Flow®. The platform, already deployed at other government agencies, provides appointment scheduling, customer flow management, customer interaction management and real-time insight into the citizen experience.

With Q-Flow®, as soon as a customer checks in, the system assigns them a ticket and routes them to an appropriately skilled agent. Power’s office even uses Q-Flow® to shift staff between offices based on demand. For instance, the Northwest office almost always has the shortest wait times. By moving agents from that office to other offices at peak times, all three locations can handle customers at roughly the same transaction time.

Results & Benefits

Testimony to the success of Alachua County’s initiative is evident in the average wait time for a cashier to process your transaction. On a normal day, the office handles 820 walk-in-customer customers, each being served on average in 6 minutes, 8 seconds.

Other benefits include:

  • Since implementing Q-Flow® staff have been able to identify busiest times. Wait times on Mondays and Fridays are the longest averaging around 9 minutes and 9 minutes and 50 seconds respectively, while wait times on Wednesdays are typically the shortest.
  • The tax collector’s office website publishes real-time wait times for each of the three offices, giving customers easy access to up-to-date wait times.
  • The ability for customers to make appointments has reduced waiting time significantly. Customers with appointments wait an average of only two minute and forty seconds to get to a clerk’s window.

Since implementing Q-Flow®, visitors to the downtown tax collector’s office are less likely to leave feeling angry or frustrated. Instead, customers can expect to be served quickly and leave feeling pleasantly surprised.

To learn more about improving citizen experiences at your office, contact us.

*Image source: http://www.gainesville.com/news/20150402/tax-collector-uses-tech-to-reduce-office-wait-times