San Diego County’s Online Marriage Appointment System Vows Excellent Customer Service
Planning a wedding is stressful — planning a wedding if you live out of town can be even more so.
For years, happy couples who wanted to get married in San Diego County had to arrange their marriage license and ceremony appointments in person, at one of the County’s five Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk locations, or by telephone during local business hours. With multiple appointment calendars based on location, call center staff would have to check individual calendars separately to determine availability. Additionally, appointment confirmations were limited to verbal interactions at the time of scheduling; if the customer wanted to modify and/or confirm their appointment, customers would need to make another call to the central call center — reminders were not available.
After learning about a new software application being utilized for passport services, the County Clerk’s office investigated and implemented an Online Marriage Appointment System.
“What makes the San Diego County Online Marriage Appointment System unique is the fact that San Diego County is a destination wedding location,” said Chief Deputy Recorder/County Clerk Val Wood. San Diego County issues the second most marriage licenses in the state, more than 23,500 in 2019, with nearly 20 percent of the County’s marriage licenses issued to couples living outside of California and 6 percent living outside the United States.
“A lot of our customers want to be able to do things when they are home during their personal time. It’s important that we implement a system that’s available when they’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” said Wood. “The online marriage appointment system is also mobile friendly. Not only can our customers access it on their phones, they can access it through their tablets and also their computers.”
As proof of its effectiveness, in its first month of availability, 80 percent of marriage license and ceremony appointments booked in San Diego County utilized the online system. While assistance is still available via telephone, customer call volume has dropped more than 30 percent, and more than 70 percent of customers are opting-in to receive additional text-based notifications and reminders.
“This is OpenTable for marriages, because we can take your reservation, you can make it any time, day or night on the internet;” said San Diego County Assessor/Recorder/County Clerk Ernest J. Dronenburg, Jr. “And then it saves us a lot of time and it’s real simple and easy for you.”
“One of the great things about the online marriage appointment system is that we have actually seen a decrease in customer calls,” said Luis Pedraza, Administrative Analyst for San Diego County. “By having the online marriage appointment system send automatic reminders and emails to their appointment, we’ve really seen a great stress relief to the customers and our employees.”
Since San Diego Call Center workers have other duties, less time on the phone also means more productivity. “At the call center, we freed up time to do other things, more processing, more applications, certificates or paperwork, rather than being on the phone,” said Arthur Sherman, Recordable Documents Specialist. “Customers appreciate that they can take care of their marriage appointments online, but there’s still someone there to answer questions over the phone. We’ve also sped up our production time, too.”
CSAC visited San Diego’s County Administrative Office on its busiest wedding day of the year, Valentine’s Day. Loved ones and families lined the halls in anticipation of their special moment. One couple we met, Clement Mutabazi and Miranda Majetich, traveled with their families from Louisiana and Oregon for a San Diego County destination wedding.
“We scheduled our appointments through the online marriage system, it took less than 5 minutes and we got our confirmation email right afterwards,” said Majetich. “I booked our appointment on my couch using my phone; it was so easy and so quick. We had great customer service.”
The County of San Diego Clerk of the Board uses the online calendaring system for passport services, while the Land Use and Environmental Group uses the system for scheduling inspections and consultations.
“It’s a system that will work for marriages as well as customer service, it’s a multifunctional system that other counties and departments can use,” said Dronenburg, Jr. “We’ve saved over one man year in personnel time — more than 2,000 hours — going to this marriage appointment system. This is a bottom line savings for not only the county, but also the customer. It’s the famous win-win situation.”