When it comes to priorities for a local authority licensing team, the general public are top of that list. And taxi licensing is no different. You also work hard to keep drivers happy, and we need to be ready to support you. So we asked our service design colleagues to find out what might work better for drivers so that we could build it into ASSURE.
Renewing a taxi licence is never going to be the highlight of a driver’s weekend. In fact, it’s probably one of those chores that’s put off until the deadline looms. But it has to be done. And it really doesn’t have to be so painful. With 50% of taxi drivers still preferring paper forms and human support, the process could be made a lot easier for authorities too. And that’s what we wanted to understand. How can we make the process seamless for taxi drivers, and get the data you need in a straightforward manner.
So we asked our service design colleagues at Snook to step up to that challenge. They spent two weeks talking to taxi drivers across London to get a better understanding of their pains in the current process. While London is covered by TfL, applications are similar up and down the country. And they provided some real insight into the frustrations of drivers at the renewal service.
Next step is making sure our software makes that service easier every step of the way. And that’s exactly what we’ve done.
Snook told us that it all starts with paper, when drivers get a renewal reminder through the post. It could come with a paper form to return, or maybe even a suggestion to renew the licence online. Either way, drivers said the process would take them 4-5 hours. And who has time for that? They have to fill in the paper forms from scratch, and quite a lot of online systems don’t remember their details either. That means drivers are left filling in information that you already have. As one driver said, “It would be easier if they asked if anything has changed.”
One of the other major struggles drivers face is that online systems are too difficult. Regularly they’d get part of the way through an application and realise they need information they don’t have to hand. They felt they were meeting barriers every step of the way. So that’s why a paper form was easier for them. They could start and stop when they liked and come back with more information later. Plus, it’s a piece of paper so drivers can write extra information wherever they think it fits best. Sometimes that means answers written down the side of the sheet.
But this is exactly the sort of thing that makes it harder for local authorities to process and award the licences. So the challenge is simple. Make the process easier for drivers and in doing so save time and effort for licensing departments.
Firstly, we looked at ways to streamline the process. We were able to get a couple of quick wins because ASSURE already has online accounts and automatic validation. We made sure anyone applying for a licence is invited to create an online account. So you retain their details and can track progress easily. And for them, it means the next time a renewal comes round they get a quick email inviting them to log back in. Drivers aren’t spending hours typing out their address and previous licences when you’ve got that information stored. A simple eyeball of the data will allow them to progress. And there’s always the option to update their details if anything has changed.
As for the difficulties in knowing what to expect from online forms, well that’s fixed easily too. We introduced a “before you start” function, so drivers know exactly what they need. Plus, if they have to pause, they can login later and pick up exactly where they left off. All of this saves them time, and lets them submit applications on the move between jobs. There’s no infuriating hoops to jump through, just a simple transparent process.
And for you, it gets even better. All the fields are automatically validated on submission. So if someone accidentally misses a number in their bank details or skips a question without realising it gets sent to them immediately to fix. Drivers aren’t hanging around waiting. And you get the data you need fast.
We know there are challenges. And we know there are ways we can help. The important thing is we’re listening to your difficulties, and those of your customers. And then we’re taking action. Taxi licensing with ASSURE is a slick and easy process for drivers and authorities alike. And isn’t that what we’re all hoping for?
Read more about ASSURE Licensing.