We have houses in two states. We therefore have cars in two states. However, we can only be a resident of one of
those states. This month one or our cars
came due for registration renewal, so we turned to the local Department of
Motor Vehicles (DMV). So far, so good,
right? Not so fast! In the state where we are no longer
residents, a required document to renew a vehicle registration is that state's
drivers' license--which we no longer have!
So we contacted the DMV multiple times to see what could be done. Answers ranged from "you need to take the
vehicle to the other state to get inspected then bring it back here" (1400
miles away), to "you need to register it in the other state", to
"it can't be done period, if you don't have an in-state
license". This does not seem like
an out of the ordinary question: surely we are not the first people with this
situation! However, trying to get an
answer from the DMV is not an ordinary experience. We finally got it resolved through dogged persistence,
but this episode made me ponder the role of service providers in general. Making customers suffer a Kafkaesque
experience shouldn't be the model.
Have you ever called technical support and gotten what you
consider a nonsense answer, and when you call back the second answer you get is
not only different, but does not make any more sense than the first one? It is similar to our experience with the DMV. On our state's official DMV website there is
no mention of how to get an automobile registered if you have an out of state
drivers' license; there is plenty of information on how to register a boat if
you are not a resident, though. So I called
the number on the site and after being put on hold a nice person told me that what
I wanted to do was not possible. I asked
why you should be able to register a boat with an out of state license but not
a car. Turns out, it's because a boat is
using the waterways, but a car is on the roads.
Of course it is: how could I be so stupid! Ahem. That
did not answer the question as to why my identification was good enough for a
boat but not an automobile, though. My
wife called and got a different answer to the question: all we had to do was get an inspection and pay
the fee (which turned out not to be true).
How could two people have gotten such different answers to the same
One way to deal with this is to ask your peers what they
would do. They have likely also experienced
a frustrating technical support call, and maybe they have found a workaround (i.e.,
escalate right away) or perhaps know of another vendor that actually fixes
things without the hassle. With the DMV
being the only game in town, we were stuck.
But we did try our own advice. We
asked our accountant and insurance agent. They both said that their customers tell them
they sometimes just go in to the DMV and it works and other times it doesn’t
and they end up registering the car in another state. Sigh. It
seemed like explaining how to set up a wireless network: sometimes it works,
sometimes it doesn’t. Signals come and
signals go. Magic.
Another idea: When
you finally get a technician that actually seems to know something, write that
down. Remember that person for next
time! On the DMV issue what we did was
take copies of every utility bill we had and went to the DMV. After the interminable inspection lines we
had to wait another hour in line to get to the registration window. Once there we were asked if we could provide the
out of state registration card for one of the vehicles we own in the other state
to verify that we had cars in another state.
Er, what? Not quite knowing how
to respond to this, we instead kept waving the bills around, pointing to
addresses and... a miracle happened.
After thinking about the process we went through it became
apparent to me that the reason that our business continues to grow is that OEM
service and support uses the DMV model and Zerowait goes in the opposite
direction. When a customer calls in with an issue they speak to an engineer
that knows what they are talking about. The customers information is verified
and the problem is worked based on the idea of let’s get this working right now.
At Zerowait we know that no two storage
networks are the same, but they all need to provide data to clients. Instead of creating roadblocks to solutions
like the DMV, our goal is to create pathways to the successful restoration of
data. Make the customer happy. Is that
the goal of the DMV or your OEM service provider?