Business Lessons from the DMV

Make it easy to do business with your companyI had to go to the Department of Motor Vehicles the other day.

That sentence probably just made you picture a long line of irritable people, an endless wait and disgruntled employees.

It actually wasn’t that bad. My local DMV has a number of procedures in place to reduce the wait, including numbered tickets (like a deli) and signs explaining their processes.

But it could have been better. The online information about what types of identification would be needed was confusing. When I walked in the door, it wasn’t immediately clear what step I needed to take first. And that endless wait did exist… at the information desk.

So while I waited, I thought about ways businesses can make their processes faster and easier for customers, whether in a store, online or over the phone.

Here are some ways you can make it easier for customers to do business with you:

• Tell customers what they need to get started. Take stock of what customers need to initiate business with you, such as measurements, product specs or their tax identification number. Make a simple, clear list and post it in a highly visible place on your website.

Make the steps clear. People at the DMV were confused about what they needed to do first. Fill out a form? Take a ticket? Spell out exactly what you want customers to do first and make that information easy to find. A FAQ page on your website is a great place to spell out your processes, or create a “Getting Started” link you can post on your site and email to prospects.

• Provide progress updates. If customers are on hold, let them know how many callers are ahead of them. If you want them to fill out an online form or survey, include a progress bar or let them know how many questions they have left.

Be transparent. The line at the DMV got longer around lunchtime. If there’s a time of day when wait times are shorter at your company, let your customers know so they can plan accordingly.

• Make it easy to get help. This is perhaps the most important step of all. Make it very clear how customers can get help at any point in the process, whether it’s calling for advice or clicking for an online chat. And make sure someone is available to provide information quickly.

Today’s customers are more time-pressed than ever. If your processes are confusing or difficult they will just go to a competitor. Making your processes clear and easy to follow will help you gain customer loyalty and repeat business.

What process improvements has your business made? Please share your tips in the comments!

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