ITD offers phone callers a better experience

Time spent with a phone on hold is time lost for many people. Averaging 10 minutes per week on hold, each of us will spend a total of three weeks of our lives “waiting for the next available representative.”

Since April, ITD has introduced public service messages for customers whose calls are placed on hold while waiting for department services or information. Customers hear important safety messages and driving tips instead of easy-listening music or nothing at all. 

For Director Brian Ness and the executive team, this was an important step toward delivering better customer service to ITD callers, explained Michelle Cobler, IT program system specialist.

“The director and the executive team wanted to ‘hear’ changes regarding callers being placed on hold and the on-hold music people would hear,” she said. “The challenge was accepted by the ETS group to provide a better experience for callers to ITD.”

One important goal of the project was to ensure that callers, both internal and external, heard the same messages. That led to a review of professional services available for producing the messages, but those services were deemed too expensive.

“Carla Anderson suggested that Highway Safety Manager Brent Jennings be contacted to see what public service announcements were currently produced,” Cobler said. “Brent and Lisa Losness went on to provide ETS radio spots and information bullets to be used with the phone system.”

Cobler worked with television specialists Dave Tuttle and Mark Hall to convert the existing radio spots to a useable format that could be programmed into ITD’s phone system. Jim West, from Driver Services, provided voice talent for the information bullets that were recorded in ITD’s production studio.

“By using resources within the department, we were able to reduce production costs to almost nothing for the project,” Cobler said.

Following an initial deployment, adjustments to the messages, content and even the volume of the messages have been made. “Carla and the executive staff were asked to review work on the effort and encouraged the project to move forward,” Cobler added.

Production is under way on a year’s supply of 30-second messages for on-hold callers. From four to six different messages are rotated each month covering safe-driving tips, driver resources such as 511 Traveler Services and highway safety reminders.

“Once we get a year under our belt, we’ll be better able to see if we are genuinely meeting our customer’s needs.” Cobler added that she was impressed with how people at ITD accepted the director’s challenge and “ran with it.”

“ITD’s pool of talented people combined resources and made this idea a reality,” she said.

If your call is placed on hold in this fall, you might hear one or more of the following messages:

• Many children rely on walking, riding a bicycle or catching a bus to travel to and from school. The Idaho Transportation Department reminds motorists to use caution near school zones and always share the road.

• Young drivers, ages 15 to 19, are more than two-and-a-half times as likely as all other drivers to be involved in a fatal or injury crash. Improve those odds by visiting for highway safety resources and tips.

• Distracted driving takes your attention from the road and puts you, your passengers, other vehicles and pedestrians in danger. Put distractions down or turn them off. Pay attention to your driving.

• Eight out of ten Idahoans wear set belts. Do you? Always wear a set belt when in a motor vehicle and double your chance of surviving a crash. Click it. Don’t risk it.

• The end of Daylight Savings Time means darkness comes an hour earlier. Remember to watch for bicyclists and pedestrians. If you walk or ride a bike, dress to be seen and use lights.

• In Idaho, know before you go. Get the latest highway conditions for travel from Idaho Traveler Services. Dial 511 on your phone or go to on the web.

• Prepare for winter driving in Idaho. Keep car windows, mirrors and lights clear of snow and ice. Check tires and brakes. Ensure that car battery and fluid levels are good and heating units are working.

Published 8-30-13