May 10, 2024

Shining Spotlight: Why Nancy Millan is Our Community Builder of the Year Award Recipient

Nancy Millan, the Hillsborough County Tax Collector, was awarded the prestigious Pocketalk Community Builder of the Year for her outstanding efforts in strengthening community bonds last December. The award was created to recognize an individual’s exceptional efforts in strengthening community bonds; Millan demonstrated commitment to fostering a sense of unity and belonging in her county, created tangible impact on community well-being and cohesiveness by creating a space where #AllSpokenHere is represented, and demonstrated leadership in initiatives that bring diverse individuals together.

Millan’s historic use of Pocketalk as the first Tax Collector in Florida demonstrates her forward-thinking leadership and dedication to enhancing the overall customer experience. In a county as diverse as Hillsborough, where over a million people reside and numerous languages are spoken, her initiative to bridge language barriers is invaluable. This effort not only benefits individuals seeking DMV services but also contributes to the county’s overall well-being and cohesion.

Hillsborough County, which is representative of the greater Tampa Metropolitan area, and is the third largest county in Florida with around 1.5 million people. Most of the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s work volume involves DMV services, serving almost 1 million people in their branch offices in a given year. They’ve chosen Pocketalk to bridge the gap between language barriers of their growing population. Hillsborough County has a very large number of residents whose first language is Spanish, Haitian Creole, Vietnamese, Farsi, Ukrainian, among many others.

We sat down with Nancy to talk to her more about her role, where her passion for language inclusivity stems from, and what drew her to Pocketalk.

Could you describe to us your position and the responsibilities you have as the Hillsborough County Tax Collector?

I am a publicly elected official and constitutional officer serving Hillsborough County. I was elected in November 2020 and took office in January 2021 after working in the office for over 30 years prior to my election.  I’m the daughter of Cuban immigrants, and the first woman and first person of Hispanic descent to serve as the Tax Collector for Hillsborough County.

My office is the funding engine that collects and distributes local taxes, including property, business, and tourist development taxes, that fund vital county services such as schools, roads and waterways, fire departments, and much more.  My office is also the sole provider of several state services in Hillsborough County, such as driver license, title, and registration services. We also provide a number of other services to add convenience for our customers such as Florida birth certificates and toll collections. As you can imagine with all these important services, we are very busy at the Tax Collector’s Office!

Why did you decide to start using Pocketalk? 

According to the Florida Office of Economic and Demographic Research, approximately 30% of residents in Hillsborough County speak a language other than English at home. The demographics of my team at the Tax Collector’s Office closely mirrors the community we serve with 18% who speak Spanish. However, this is often not enough to meet our customer service demand in a timely manner nor does it address non-English speaking customers that speak a language other than Spanish – such as Haitian Creole, Vietnamese and Farsi. Our goal with piloting Pocketalk was to avoid having to turn customers away who did not have a translator and ultimately reduce repeat visits to our offices. We are busy enough, so we don’t need the added stress of seeing the same customer multiple times due to a language barrier.  It is also our goal to get all customers in and out as quickly and efficiently as possible. Language barriers increase our transaction times and wait times and also create bottlenecks in our customer flow.

In addition to our high number of Spanish-speaking employees, before Pocketalk, we had tried other options such as customers bringing their own translators, but this just means more people in our offices. We also tried online options such as Google Translate, but it just wasn’t effective for having a conversation. We needed something that would allow us to serve customers quickly with minimal errors and something that would be easy for our team to use. After searching the internet for translation devices, we came across Pocketalk and decided to purchase a device to test it out.

How did the initial trial go?

After testing the Pocketalk device in various offices and for various services, it was clear that both our team and customers loved it! Employees were fighting over who got to keep it, and we even had a customer ask if they could buy it from us because he had never seen anything like it!

The success of the initial trial meant that we had to determine how many we would need to support all our offices and services. We ultimately decided to purchase 100 Pocketalk devices to distribute throughout our 8 branch offices and our 3 driving test tracks.

How has Pocketalk helped the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s Office? 

This is very personal to me and I’m very passionate about it. My parents immigrated here from Cuba many years ago, and I translated for them my whole life. I’ve worked at the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s Office for over 30 years and have always had to help translate for our customers. Over the years, I worked diligently to form a translation team to translate our materials and our website in Spanish, and added a Spanish queue to both our phone system and appointment and queuing system.

Our office has a consistent influx of non-English speaking customers visiting our branch offices. The lack of translation support causes bottlenecks in our offices, customer frustration and significant delays for all customers. This device bridges that gap and we’re now able to help people right away and improve the service experience for all customers.

We’re breaking the perception of the typical DMV by innovating and thinking about better ways to serve our customers.

 

A Warm Thank You to the Advocates of Tomorrow

Thanks to the work being done by Nancy and the Hillsborough County Tax Collector’s Office, their constituents are better equipped to flourish in their communities and have a better experience thanks to people like you.

To learn more about how you can make an impact in your community, we invite you to join our #Todo HabladoAquí initiative to create spaces where language is not an obstacle; it’s an invitation.

 

Nancy holding Pocketalk device in front of customer

Let’s Get Social!
Check out our X, LinkedIn, and Instagram for more behind-the-scenes content, and share your thoughts using #Pocketalk and #AllSpokenHere. Let’s explore how we can transform language barriers into bridges for success.