Customer service: When you’ve already hooked the customers, serve them as poorly as possible

Image for Poor Customer Service Post - robot-916284_960_720 (1)HERTZ RENTAL CAR COMPANY

CUSTOMER SERVICE MEETING AGENDA FOR TODAY

  1. How can we waste our customers’ time more efficiently?
  2. What tactics will totally tick off the customers that remain with us through their long wait to be served? 
  3. What final touches can we provide that will really annoy the customers we’ve ensnared and guarantee they won’t ever do business with us again?

Customer Service Team Discussion of Agenda Item #1:

We’ve had to cut back on hiring actual people, but we think a chance to interact with a type of robot for their transaction will appeal to harried airport travelers.  Let’s install such a thing at a counter where travelers would otherwise expect to find service personnel, and then give them some really vague instructions on how to use the robot.  Also, let’s add a sign to the counter that directs customers to another location, say “upstairs” in this 8-story building, where they might find the one employee we haven’t let go.   Those travelers all need some exercise anyway, after sitting on an airplane so long. Think of the strength-training inherent in pulling four suitcases!  We’d be doing them a favor, really. 

Discussion of Agenda Item #2:

“Expert Al” is a great name for our robot-like employee, don’t you think?  Also, a customer using the phone system to contact Expert Al won’t mind seeing a message that says, “Your wait (for Expert Al) will be 2 minutes,” even as four, five or even eight minutes tick passed.  Al is so friendly, when he finally picks up the phone, the customer will forget all about the wait.

Expert Al will be able to tap into the customer’s good nature by suggesting a higher-priced option, rather than the budget-friendly car the customer has already reserved. When the customer politely declines, Expert Al should point out all the features the customer will miss out on by having reserved the obvious piece of junk he intends to drive.  As predicted, when the customer tells Expert Al that he is fully insured through other means, other than our own company’s extremely expensive and suspect accident insurance, Expert Al should question the customer’s judgment and memory with lines such as, “Are you sure? Have you ever filed a claim with your company in the past?”  Expert Al should accept no less than three insurance denials from the customer before moving on to his next topic—fuel.

Letting our company fill the empty gas tank for your typical leisure traveler is, of course, more expensive than the gas offered at any typical gas station, but who needs that hassle? The customer is driving in unfamiliar territory. How could they ever find a gas station or, if they do, why would they want to risk soiling their travel clothes to fill up? Best to insist on our gas or, if refused, to issue stern warnings about what happens if the car is returned to the airport with one drop less than a full tank.  We can definitely find an employee to monitor that part. AGREED.

Discussion of Agenda Item #3:

The customer long ago reserved his car online at a set price.  We’ve got him. He’s not going to undo all that effort and walk away.  He’ll follow Expert Al’s instruction to the area in the vast parking ramp where the Herz cars are waiting.  He’ll give the customer a parking spot to look for, say, “N13” without regard to the fact that the sign-makers have been laid off with all the other employees.  Customers like to guess as to where “N” might be and then try counting slots in that row up to 13.  You can just feel the customer fantasizing about grabbing the keys in the first high-end model he comes across, then slamming those four suitcases onto the hood of the car to see if they make a dent.  AGREED.

Meeting adjourned. 

Long ago, it was the Avis rental car company that was ranked number two in the industry until they came up with the arguably ingenious advertising slogan: “When you’re only No. 2, you try harder,” against the then-leader: Hertz.  Avis got to Number 1 as a result.

I wonder if Avis uses customer service robots today.

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