I just spent 4 minutes at the DMV.
For those of you who have grown up in California, that is a remarkable, perhaps unbelievable, statement. When I first got my license more than three decades ago, a trip to the DMV for any reason, any reason at all, meant taking a full day off from work and spending 99% of your time standing in lines and 1% of your time learning that you’d brought the wrong forms.
Today was different.
The Light at the End of the Tunnel
I had an appointment for 11:20. After waiting in a short line I sat down at 11:15. I was called promptly at 11:20 and finished with forms, thumb-printing, payment and a new photo at 11:24.
It used to fill me with a sickening dread to think about the DMV. After three and a half decades the expectation of pain doesn’t just go away. We didn’t plan anything else this morning. I brought my laptop and some work to do. Our little one brought a big fat book to read. We came prepared to stay.
In 4 minutes it was over.
What Did You Expect?
For decades the California Department of Vehicles has set an expectation of a miserable experience. Then a few years ago they made a clear declaration of intent and set an expectation for a new experience. Now that we can make an appointment online we still prepare for the worst, but expect something better. Despite higher expectations I still do a dance of glee when I spend less than a full day at the DMV.
A vital note: the DMV doesn’t just promise a different experience when you make an appointment, the deliver on the promise. Making an appointment isn’t marginally better, it’s a whole different experience.
What’s Your Industry’s Reputation?If your industry has a negative reputation it’s easy to go into a business conversation in attack/defend mode. If you work for a used car dealership, for a lawyer, as the guitar baggage handler for United Airlines, or in any kind of sales, you have an incredible opportunity. The bellhop at the Ritz has to juggle flaming chainsaws to stand out from his peers. If your industry is a customer service black hole, you have the rare opportunity to be the only light to escape its event horizon.
Just as a light shines brightest in the dark, your generous, thoughtful, kind attention to suspects, prospects and clients makes you stand out.
C’mon and Shine Shine Shine!Expectations tends to be self-fulfilling. If you are embarrassed at your industry’s reputation, enter every conversation determined to shine like the sun and show folks a dazzling contrast to the black hole they expected. A positive approach puts you in a different place mentally. When you expect disbelief, insults and a battle, it’s human nature to create them by our approach. When you go in expecting delighted appreciation, you’re more likely to create it.
Every entrepreneur is a salesperson. Selling doesn’t have to involve a plaid polyester sports coat. Stand out from the dark.