Consumers make purchases online and via mobile phones (and even regular phones) daily, often doing online research before making a buying decision. We’ve become accustomed to searching for the best deal online, polling friends about their experiences and checking online reviews.
It’s fast. It’s easy. And potentially damaging to the brands who show up online as “less than”.
Customer service is more important than ever today. Where an employee taking the time to go above and beyond for a customer can make the difference between a sale for a company or one for its competitor. Where that same experience can be amplified to the benefit of one brand and the potential detriment of its competitor. Using social media and online networks. Often called “word-of-mouth-on-steroids”.
Case in point. My family’s experience over Easter weekend with three brands: State Farm, Hertz and Enterprise. State Farm and Enterprise? Fabulous. Hertz? Major #fail.
My 21 year-old son was hit in an intersection in Los Angeles by a driver who blew through a red light and totaled his car. Fortunately, he was only badly bruised and able to walk away from the accident.
We are profoundly grateful for that.
We filed a claim with State Farm immediately and were happily surprised the level of assistance and caring offered by Team 44. Our representative quickly set up the necessary next steps, which included emailing a reservation for a rental car to the Hertz rental location at 2519 Lincoln Blvd. We were very grateful because my son lives in up in the mountains in Topanga and was stranded without his car.
It was Easter weekend, he was in Los Angeles without family and we were in Ohio, trying to help in any way we could.
He arrived at the Hertz location and waited for more than 45 minutes before being told that, in spite of the reservation from State Farm, a direct billing meaning that State Farm would pay for the car rental, Hertz would not rent to him. Hertz has a corporate policy requiring a hold of $50 on the reservation. My son had only $44 in his account.
It was Saturday. Holiday weekend. Stranded kid. Banks closed.
The manager of the Hertz rental location would not accept my credit card over the phone. Security risk, according to Hertz Corporate. He would not call State Farm (by this time Team 44 was trying to get through on the phone to the manager to help facilitate the rental but he would not answer) and switched the local phones over so the calls rolled over to a national 800 number reservation system.
The Hertz manager’s response to a family’s emergency on a holiday weekend? He made no effort to help. He left my son standing on the sidewalk outside the Hertz rental location. He closed the office, locked the doors and left, probably because he had things to do before celebrating Easter with his own family.
For six dollars.
From a Saturday afternoon until Monday morning. Six dollars.
Hertz has a policy of not accepting credit cards over the phone. For security reasons. They accept credit card reservations made online, but there was no time to make an online reservation before this office closed for the weekend. Of course I happen to know they accept credit cards online because just two weeks earlier I rented a car from Hertz for a week for travel in Washington D.C. and Virginia. #neveragain.
Meanwhile our Team 44 at State Farm was working diligently to find a solution to the problem after they learned that my son was standing on a sidewalk outside the Hertz rental location. Our customer rep found someone in a nearby Enterprise rental location who was not only willing to help by working with available dollars my son had in his account, but willing to come pick him up and take him back to their offices to rent a car. The State Farm team transferred the reservation from Hertz to Enterprise. Enterprise was willing to rent the car to my son, and finally, after several hours, my son had transportation so he could get back to his house and figure out what his next steps should be.
The State Farm and Enterprise customer service reps went above and beyond, on a holiday weekend, for a kid and family they don’t even know. They got creative and figured out a way to make the situation work. We are so grateful.
Both State Farm and Enterprise have won my business and my help in promoting their good work in any of the communication channels I use daily.
I will never do business again with Hertz and I will make sure to share this story as widely as I can. Hertz could have been the good guy in this story instead of…well, you can fill in the blanks.
And Hertz? You might want to examine the training you provide to your managers that enables them to act so callously. That kind of reputation can come back to bite you.
Image credit: © 2014 The Hertz Corporation.http://images.hertz.com/pdfs/HTZ_2006_annual_report.pdf
Image credit: © Copyright, State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company, 2014.
Image credit: © 2014 Enterprise Rent-A-Car. Patent Pending