Say what you will about the DMV, and you invariably will. For various reasons, I’ve had to deal with the DMV in two states on several occasions during the past three months. I will spare you all the details.
However, I will say I did have quite the unusual experience with them recently. Now, I guess when the bar is set low (through experience or through expectation) it’s a lot easier to impress someone. We all assume that anyone at the DMV has to 1) hate people; 2) hate work; 3) hate speed.
But what happens if you get a special phone number?
What’s a special phone number? It’s a number that’s not posted on any DMV website. It’s not on any paperwork. It’s not given to you if you ask. You only learn of this number when 1) you’re nice; 2) you’re patient; 3) you have an issue that can’t be solved in the usual manner. In other words, if you have a legitimate issue and you firmly yet kindly present your case, you might be given the special phone number.
So what happens when you call this special phone number? The first thing that happens is you expect to get no where, right? Of course you’ll be on hold for 50 hours. Of course you’ll be transferred around from department to department. Of course you’ll eventually just be disconnected.
But that’s not what happens. When you dial the special phone number, a “real” customer service person picks up. And they get to work on your issue. They ask clarifying questions. They provide their direct email address. They explain the process. They ask if there’s anything else they can assist you with.
Here’s the real kicker. When you call back the next morning — you know, to check on things because you trust nothing — they remember you, and your name, and your issue. Not look you up on the computer, but actually remember. And when your issue is resolved, you can’t help but wonder why they don’t have more of the people who are at the other end of the special phone number on the front lines.