(RICHMOND, VA.) – The Virginia Department of Health’s (VDH) Office of Vital Records has undertaken multiple initiatives to improve customer service.
“One of the ways we’re improving customer service is by modernizing the Office of Vital Records,” said Mona Bector, deputy commissioner for administration at the Virginia Department of Health.
Ms. Bector stated, “To adequately serve the needs of customers we have added capacity to our call center, provided online application status updates, and are in the process of introducing online application submissions. We are creating transparency and providing relevant information through an updated website.”
The VDH Office of Vital Records headquarters is located at 2001 Maywill Street in Henrico County, just outside of Richmond. In coordination with the Local Health Districts and the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), this office issues birth, death, marriage and divorce certificates. The Office of Vital Records processes an estimated 250,000 records a year, and responds to thousands of requests for copies of records.
“We have completely revised the call center phone greetings to provide more information, our website address, and for the first time all greetings are also available in Spanish,” added Suresh Soundararajan, chief information officer at the Virginia Department of Health. “We now offer customers their call queue position every 60 seconds and the option to leave their contact information for a call back,” he said.
Customer service enhancements include:
- A new application tracking system. When an application is submitted with an email, the system will generate an application tracking ID for each application and email that ID number to the customer, who will be able to call and get status updates or track the status of their application online. Shortly, customers will also be able to get updates by mobile text messages.
- Online application submission will be introduced in March to expedite processing.
- Updated website. The Office of Vital Records website, www.vdh.virginia.gov/vital-records, has been updated to highlight the most requested information, to add an online application status tracking button, and has a locator function to find the nearest place to get a copy of a vital record (Office of Vital Records headquarters, Local Health District office or DMV office).
- Updated and modernized waiting area at the headquarters location. A greeter is available during busy periods to help direct walk-in customers to the applications counter and to the waiting area. Starting in March, the office will provide electronic check-in. Shortly, a children’s play area will be added to the waiting space to accommodate parents. Walk-in consumers can receive same-day service for uncomplicated requests.
Ms. Bector said the Office plans to add electronic payments soon. When that system is up and running, customers will be able to expedite online application processing with electronic payment.
In another change, Seth Austin has been appointed director of the Office of Vital Records, effective Feb. 25, 2020. Mr. Austin has been working as the office’s acting director since January. He joined VDH in 2016.
“I look forward to the opportunity to lead the office through this modernization effort which will bring a lot of value to our customers,” Mr. Austin said. “We are holding ourselves to a standard of interacting with our customers in a way that matches the best customer service experiences they have with private businesses.”
New Hours: Starting March 1, the Office of Vital Records will be open from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Monday and Wednesday; from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Tuesday and Thursday; and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday. (The office will be closed on Saturday and Sunday.)
The changes reflect consumer demands and wider availability of other locations to get copies of vital records.
Certified copies of vital records are required for many reasons, such as obtaining U.S. passports, making beneficiary insurance claims, or to get the new Real ID driver’s license, for example.
Recently, the Office of Vital Records warned consumers about using third-party services to obtain vital records. Some of those services charge consumers for copies of applications that are available online for free, and some consumers using third-party services have complained that they never received requested forms or records.