Secretary Benson replacing kiosks with new self-service stations

Completing a pledge made earlier this year, Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson recently announced she is replacing unreliable, hard-to-use kiosks across the state with new, user-friendly self-service stations, increasing the number of stations by more than 60 percent.

Following a successful one-month pilot phase completed this month involving a dozen new self-service stations and thousands of customer transactions, the project will expand to replace all 93 existing kiosks by the end of January and add 57 more, for a total of 150, by the end of April. Additional stations already are being discussed. In addition to Secretary of State branch offices, many of the new stations will be in grocery stores such as Kroger and Meijer, meeting customers where they already are doing business. Most of the stations are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. For an up-to-date listing of locations with the new self-service stations, visit Michigan.gov/SOSSelfService.

Residents don't need to have their renewal packet with them to renew their registration at a self-service station. Eligible vehicles can be renewed with only the plate number and the last four digits of the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).

"We've already seen a significant increase in customers using the new machines," Benson said. "During the pilot phase, the number of transactions increased significantly on three-quarters of the new machines compared to the same period the previous year. In some locations, the increase has been as much as 57 percent."

The new self-service stations are part of a system-wide overhaul being carried out by Benson and her administration. Other work includes expanding online appointments, redesigning renewal mailings to better support and prepare customers, and improving self-service options such as the Secretary of State website.

Like the previous kiosks, self-service stations will offer renewals for automobiles, motorcycles and watercraft. The stations can print auto and motorcycle tabs. Watercraft tabs will be mailed to customers. The new self-service stations will add numerous driver-related transactions once the Michigan Department of State completes the second portion of its computer system upgrade in March 2021.

The Department of State is partnering with vendor Intellectual Technology Inc. (ITI) on the new stations, which are being provided at no cost to the state. Customers will pay a technology service fee of $3.95 for every vehicle renewed at a self-service station. Transactions normally take less than two minutes.

ITI has a proven track record of providing these reliable stations in 15 states over the past 19 years. ITI will manage all regular maintenance and inventory stocking, as well as all repairs. Previously, 10 different entities were involved with maintaining and repairing Michigan's old kiosks, resulting in longer outages and down times.

In addition to the benefits of more reliable stations offered in more convenient locations, working with ITI also is allowing Michigan to serve customers in multiple languages at the self-service stations. The pilot phase offered transactions in English and Spanish. Arabic is being added, with the ability to add more languages as the need arises. Many of the new machines also will accept cash, previously not an option at the old kiosks. The new stations also accept American Express credit cards, in addition to the Discover, MasterCard and Visa credit and debit cards the previous kiosks accepted.

ITI and partner locations also help to promote the self-service stations, bringing visibility to this convenient way for Michigan residents to conduct their business with the secretary of state. Transactions on the new self-service stations are fast and offer ATM-level security. In addition, 24/7/365 technical support (previously not available) will be available by phone for customers.

When Benson visited all 131 branch offices during the first 100 days of her administration, she noted that one-third of the kiosks were broken and in general were too difficult to use. In April, when she issued her 100-day report about her branch visits, Benson pledged to address the issue. The previous kiosks initially were installed in 2004 under Secretary of State Terri Lynn Land. The installs continued with the last location being added in 2017 under Secretary Ruth Johnson.

Published: Tue, Dec 03, 2019

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