We visited the Department of Motor Vehicles last week. We had made an appointment as there are almost 500,000 people in the county in which we live and two DMV offices, so they tend to be busy.

We arrived, twenty-five minutes early and got into the appointment check in line. By the time we got to the person whose job it was to check us in we were already ten minutes past our scheduled appointment time.

Spending as much time as we did in line gave me lots of time to observe the person working reception. A couple was at the counter while I was standing in line that was having difficulty understanding what the DMV employee was trying to explain.

Lesson One: Vary Your Language
If you are talking to people who are having a hard time understanding what you are saying, do not keep repeating the same phrase over and over again. It may be that English was not their first language or that the terms used were not familiar to them. Telling them in the same words is not going to help.

The next person to go up to counter said something to the employee at the desk about why it was taking so long as they were worried about missing their appointment. The clerk’s snappish and loud reply, which could be heard by everyone in the long line was, “Because no one wants to work here…we have nine vacancies.”

Lesson Two: Need to know
As a customer I don’t need to know that employees do not like their jobs. Truly, I did not want to be there either. If we could have taken care of everything online, we would have.

After twenty minutes in line we approached the counter and explained that we wanted to register a vehicle. We were given a number and told to wait until called. We also said we would like to change our address (which involves completing a form and getting a little card that we wrote the new address on). We were curtly informed that changing the address was not stated as part of the reason for our appointment and that we would have to wait in another line to get the form.

Lesson Three: Streamline systems so they work for the customers
If you can simplify your procedures to the advantage for your customers, do so. It would not have been difficult to have a stack of the change of address forms at the check-in desk to hand to the customer, letting them know at the same time where to return them.

I understand that it cannot be easy to work at the DMV and hope that if I have to make another visit that they have managed to hire more and lessened the stress level of their employees.

A tip of the glass from me to you.

Elizabeth SlaterE Column
by Elizabeth “E” Slater, In Short Direct Marketing

A recognized expert in the fields of direct marketing and sales in the wine marketplace. Slater has taught more wineries and winery associations how to create and improve the effectiveness of their direct marketing programs and to make the most of each customer’s potential than anyone in the wine industry today.

Follow E on twitter @esavant and facebook.