An Unexpected Customer Experience with the Registry of Motor Vehicles

A Great Customer Experience Story

November 5, 2009

The Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles provides an excellent customer experience when renewing your driver's license online. Obviously, whoever designed the site thought through the customer’s point of view!


Contrary to all expectations, I had a great experience with the Registry of Motor Vehicles. The Web site anticipated my needs when renewing my license online, and the follow-up information answered all my questions before

I thought to ask them.


A Government Site Gets It Right!

Tomorrow is my birthday. Yay me. Not only am I getting older, but I had to renew my driver’s license this year. Like any experienced driver, I was dreading the task. The thought of trying to find a place to park near my local registry (in downtown Boston), standing in long lines, dealing with overworked and under-enthused registry employees, and then having my picture taken was very depressing. I vaguely remembered a friend saying that she renewed her license on the phone, so I thought I’d give that a try.

I went online to find the number, googling “renew drivers license Massachusetts,” and the very first result was “RMV - Renew your License.” Bullseye!

The link not only led to information on how to renew my license online, but directly to the page where I could begin the process. There were some questions to answer on the page:

You must answer the following questions before you may renew your license online.

1. Is your license or right to operate currently under suspension or revocation here or in any other state?

Yes No

2. Do you currently have at least 20/40 central vision (with or without corrective lenses) and at least 120 degrees peripheral vision?

Yes No

If you do not meet the minimum visual requirements then you may elect to have your vision screened at one of our branch offices or you may download a Vision Screening Certificate (VSC) from the Forms section of our website. The VSC may be completed by any medical doctor (MD) or optometrist. (Please note: if the vision screening cannot be passed at a registry branch then the licensee will need to provide a completed VSC certifying their visual measurements prior to renewing their license in a branch office). *

3. Do you have any medical condition (eg. seizures, hypoglycemic episodes, or a cardiovascular / pulmonary condition) that may affect your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle?

Yes No

If you suspect that you have a medical condition which interferes with the safe operation of a motor vehicle then you may not renew your license online. You will need to provide a statement from your physician (recently dated and written on the doctor's letterhead) to one of our branch offices which states the nature of the impairment and that you are currently medically qualified to operate a motor vehicle safely).*

4. Are you currently taking any medication that could affect your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle?

Yes No

And, again, provided directly on the page is the place to fill in your personal information (see Illustration 1).

 Online Form from the RMV


Online Form from the RMV

© 2009 Massachusetts RMV

Illustration 1. The Massachusetts RMV allows you to renew your license online and provides the right form on the landing page.

Once filled in, all I had to do was click on “continue” and enter my credit card information, and I was done! I just had to hope that I’d done everything right and that the license would arrive in time (I thought I had renewed early enough, but this was the RMV, so who knew what would happen).

Terrific Follow-Up Information

Two days later, I received the following email:


The Requested License Renewal Transaction has been successfully processed on 10/26/2009 at 07:32:03.

Your renewed license will be mailed to you. Your new license will have a state assigned license number if you previously used your Social Security Number as your license number. If you currently have a state assigned number on your license, it will remain the same. If your current license has expired, you cannot legally operate a vehicle until you receive your renewed license, unless you print and carry this e-mail with you along with your expired license [emphasis is mine]. The bearer of this e-mail has successfully renewed his/her Massachusetts license. The license is in good standing and is not currently expired, suspended, or revoked.

Federal privacy laws prohibit the RMV from printing the name, the driver's license number, or the social security number of the licensee in question on this receipt. M.G.L. c 90 sec 11 allows the Registrar to issue a receipt for the fees paid, which may be carried in lieu of your license for up to 30 days. A printed copy of this e-mail shall be deemed a receipt for the fees for the purposes of M.G.L. c 90 sec 11.

Please do not discard this e-mail until you have received your renewed license in the mail.

If you have questions please call the Telephone Center at 617-351-4500 (within 339/617/781/857) or 1-800-858-3926 (within 351/413/508/774/978) from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday - Friday, except holidays.

We welcome your feedback!

Press reply or e-mail us at

Thanks for using"

I had been successful in my renewal! It was right there in the subject line! Great idea, by the way, to alleviate any worry on my part before I even opened the message.

I was still concerned that the physical license might not arrive in time, but the message let me know, right near the top, that the email could serve as my license until my actual one arrived in the mail. I was delighted. So delighted, in fact, that I decided to take them up on their offer of providing feedback, and I sent the following message:

"I am a consultant in customer experience, and I want to commend the registry for doing an excellent job of making it easy to renew my driver’s license. I am particularly impressed with the ability to use the email acknowledgement in lieu of a valid license until your actual license arrives if your license has expired.

I will be commenting on this in my blog (listed below) in the next few weeks. Keep up the good work!


An appreciative customer,
Ronni T. Marshak
Senior VP
Direct line: 617-734-9566
visit my blog at"

Again, the Registry surprised me by actually responding. The next day, I received the following email:

"Thank you for your feedback!!!

Thank you for using

Now, it wasn’t much, but it was personal, and let me know that I was appreciated, at least by Will. (Considering that most of the feedback to the Registry is probably not particularly pleasant, I guess I was a welcome change.)

Although the decision to allow license renewals online was most likely a financial one (it is, of course, cheaper for the Registry to have customers serve themselves), the customer experience was well thought out. Someone had to say, “Hey, let’s let them know if the renewal was successful or not in the subject line,” and “let’s tell them upfront that they can use the email as their license.” Again, these decisions could have been financially motivated to eliminate calls to the contact center, but the people who designed the process, the online forms, and the responding emails put themselves in their customers’ shoes, and I applaud that!

Unfortunately, the next time I renew in however many years, I do have to go to the physical Registry offices—I guess to make sure I’m who I say I am, to re-test my eyesight, and to get a more updated photo—but this experience was great!

And my physical license arrived within the week!

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