It’s Not About the Budget. It’s About What Hertz.

This is an example of an article written by Jim Feldman for a publication or newsletter. Jim is an author, keynote speaker and consultant who writes and speaks about Change Management, Customer Service and Innovative Problem Solving. Contact us about using Jim as an author, interview or speaker at 312-527-9111.
Telephone Switchboard Operators - a vintage circa 1914 photo (cropped)
photo credit: IronRodArt – Royce Bair (with 1-Million+ views)

There are many things that bother people. Conversely, there are many that don’t. The first dilemma we all face as marketers is to determine which is which. The second is how we respond when our determinations are wrong. That’s as important as the first, because the time of the unhappy customer grinning and bearing it are gone. When people are upset they seek remedies. If they aren’t satisfied, there are too many choices, too many other places to go for the same thing.

Recently I made business travel plans to go to Las Vegas. One of my business associates asked which car rental company I used. I said Hertz. He was aghast. “How could you pay Hertz prices when there was Budget?” So, after some convincing, I booked with Budget.
Upon arrival I found that the cars were “off airport property.” Inconvenient, but I had no choice, so I loaded my bags onto the bus. The bus driver offered no assistance to anyone. He simply waited while we all struggled with loading the bags.
The ride to the Budget location was in an older bus that needed a good cleaning. When we reached the “store” the driver again made no effort to assist anyone in removing their luggage.
Inside it was a disaster. There was a line of 25 irritated renters and one clerk behind the counter handling the paperwork. There were two more clerks. . .but they were busy chatting with each other about the football game they were watching in the back room. After 33 minutes, it was my turn, while a dozen or more behind me watched and listened as the clerk informed me “Sorry sir, we have run out of cars.”
I showed my confirmed reservation. I requested my vehicle. Frustration replaced reason. Anger took over politeness. I asked for the manager. The clerk informed me that he was the manager. He took no responsibility for the shortfall. In fact, he offered no explanation or excuse. It was simply a matter of fact. After all, if there were no cars what could he do? More importantly, what could I do? He suggested that I wait until others returned their cars, and I would be the first one to receive a car.
Imagine the same situation at your company with a new customer or client, someone with the potential to become a regular customer and help you grow your business. Or worse, what if that type of service met one of your best clients? It’s simple…if you don’t service your customer, someone else will.
Back to Budget, at least I know why they have that name. Nothing was first class. Not the building environment, not the driver’s courtesy, not the front desk efficiency. Are you sending a similar message to your players…you like to gamble, so why not start with your room reservation?
People want products and services that provide relief. Research has shown that a sore throat will take the same time to return to normal with or without medicine, yet we spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the belief that our discomfort can be cured. What do we really “sell” our customers? Relief! In the form of product or service that makes their lives easier, fulfilling a need then cannot fulfill by themselves.
Budget and other car rental companies cater to business clients. Weekend drivers are normally vacationing and infrequent users of their services. Weekday drivers generally are business people that rent more frequently and pay a higher rate. Do we identify and segment our players in a similar way, or do we simply lump them into slots or table games? Do we know what matters to them?
Budget simply took the position that as the low-cost provider they could offer lower customer service. They had a room full of people looking for relief in the form of a quick and easy car rental. And as three business people started to complain to each other about the poor service, price no longer was an issue. The savings did not matter. It was not about price, but service, convenience and responding to the needs of the customer.
I called Hertz and explained that I was a Gold Service member and made a mistake. I promised never to do it again in Las Vegas if they could get me a car. Without hesitation Hertz offered to send a car or bus to pick me up. When I turned to the others in line and offered them the same courtesy, seven people joined me. I told the person on the phone and a bus was dispatched.
Do the math…seven rentals times a couple of days and ALL future business, since it’s a sure bet none of us were ever going back to Budget. What are you losing at your casino because you don’t know what happens to your players from the moment they arrive to the time they depart? Remember, customer service is not a department. It’s an Attitude, and it’s everyone’s responsibility. It’s a lesson Hertz has learned well.
The Hertz bus arrived. The driver came out of the bus and offered assistance with every bag. Once inside, he offered hot coffee and ice-cold bottled water to each of us. He apologized that it took a little longer than he had anticipated, but he stopped to get us the drinks. All the while the Budget staff simply looked on, making no effort to stop the departure of a significant group of clients.
Upon arrival at Hertz there were four clerks ready to process the rentals. The other three of us were Gold card members, so our cars and paperwork were all ready. No delays. We were walked to the cars, assisted with loading the luggage, and thanked for our business. When I entered my car there was a personal note from the location manager thanking me for my business, his business card and a -0- balance on the amount due for the rental. The note read, “Thank you for giving us the chance to earn back your business. Please enjoy this car during your stay in Vegas with our compliments.”
WOW!
Customers don’t take responsibility for their choices. Why? Because they are never wrong. You have to take the responsibility for learning and delivering what the customer wants. So ask questions. Discover what concerns or worries your customers and devise a way of providing relief for them.
Remember, it’s not about the Budget. It’s about what Hertz.
Here are four Better Changes for Providing “Relief” and Great Customer Service:
Hear them out. A natural inclination is to sell your solution without understanding the player’s problem. Don’t try to solve the problem until you fully understand it. Get the facts.
Be proactive. Ask probing questions to find out more about customer needs and wants. There is no point in providing something that results in a frustrated player that does not want it or cannot use it.
Cycle back. When you encounter an unhappy customer and resolve the situation, ask for a phone number and offer to call to see how everything worked out. Then do it! Time consuming. . .sure. Difficult. . .not really. Check with your customer after a reasonable period has passed. You also should make it a point to cycle back with those people that can increase their business with you, become loyal, long-term customers, and recommend your organization to others. Just because they don’t say anything doesn’t mean they don’t want anything.
Be open minded. Free your organization from the “we always did it this way” syndrome. Constantly review your company’s rules and procedures to be flexible and to show that you, as a company, value worthy ideas, no matter what the source.

There are many things that bother people. Conversely, there are many that don’t. The first dilemma we all face as marketers is to determine which is which. The second is how we respond when our determinations are wrong. That’s as important as the first, because the time of the unhappy customer grinning and bearing it are gone. When people are upset they seek remedies. If they aren’t satisfied, there are too many choices, too many other places to go for the same thing.

Recently I made business travel plans to go to Las Vegas. One of my business associates asked which car rental company I used. I said Hertz. He was aghast. “How could you pay Hertz prices when there was Budget?” So, after some convincing, I booked with Budget.

Upon arrival I found that the cars were “off airport property.” Inconvenient, but I had no choice, so I loaded my bags onto the bus. The bus driver offered no assistance to anyone. He simply waited while we all struggled with loading the bags.

The ride to the Budget location was in an older bus that needed a good cleaning. When we reached the “store” the driver again made no effort to assist anyone in removing their luggage.

Inside it was a disaster. There was a line of 25 irritated renters and one clerk behind the counter handling the paperwork. There were two more clerks. . .but they were busy chatting with each other about the football game they were watching in the back room. After 33 minutes, it was my turn, while a dozen or more behind me watched and listened as the clerk informed me “Sorry sir, we have run out of cars.”

I showed my confirmed reservation. I requested my vehicle. Frustration replaced reason. Anger took over politeness. I asked for the manager. The clerk informed me that he was the manager. He took no responsibility for the shortfall. In fact, he offered no explanation or excuse. It was simply a matter of fact. After all, if there were no cars what could he do? More importantly, what could I do? He suggested that I wait until others returned their cars, and I would be the first one to receive a car.

Imagine the same situation at your company with a new customer or client, someone with the potential to become a regular customer and help you grow your business. Or worse, what if that type of service met one of your best clients? It’s simple…if you don’t service your customer, someone else will.

Back to Budget, at least I know why they have that name. Nothing was first class. Not the building environment, not the driver’s courtesy, not the front desk efficiency. Are you sending a similar message to your players…you like to gamble, so why not start with your room reservation?

People want products and services that provide relief. Research has shown that a sore throat will take the same time to return to normal with or without medicine, yet we spend hundreds of millions of dollars in the belief that our discomfort can be cured. What do we really “sell” our customers? Relief! In the form of product or service that makes their lives easier, fulfilling a need then cannot fulfill by themselves.

Budget and other car rental companies cater to business clients. Weekend drivers are normally vacationing and infrequent users of their services. Weekday drivers generally are business people that rent more frequently and pay a higher rate. Do we identify and segment our players in a similar way, or do we simply lump them into slots or table games? Do we know what matters to them?

Budget simply took the position that as the low-cost provider they could offer lower customer service. They had a room full of people looking for relief in the form of a quick and easy car rental. And as three business people started to complain to each other about the poor service, price no longer was an issue. The savings did not matter. It was not about price, but service, convenience and responding to the needs of the customer.

I called Hertz and explained that I was a Gold Service member and made a mistake. I promised never to do it again in Las Vegas if they could get me a car. Without hesitation Hertz offered to send a car or bus to pick me up. When I turned to the others in line and offered them the same courtesy, seven people joined me. I told the person on the phone and a bus was dispatched.

Do the math…seven rentals times a couple of days and ALL future business, since it’s a sure bet none of us were ever going back to Budget. What are you losing at your casino because you don’t know what happens to your players from the moment they arrive to the time they depart? Remember, customer service is not a department. It’s an Attitude, and it’s everyone’s responsibility. It’s a lesson Hertz has learned well.

The Hertz bus arrived. The driver came out of the bus and offered assistance with every bag. Once inside, he offered hot coffee and ice-cold bottled water to each of us. He apologized that it took a little longer than he had anticipated, but he stopped to get us the drinks. All the while the Budget staff simply looked on, making no effort to stop the departure of a significant group of clients.

Upon arrival at Hertz there were four clerks ready to process the rentals. The other three of us were Gold card members, so our cars and paperwork were all ready. No delays. We were walked to the cars, assisted with loading the luggage, and thanked for our business. When I entered my car there was a personal note from the location manager thanking me for my business, his business card and a -0- balance on the amount due for the rental. The note read, “Thank you for giving us the chance to earn back your business. Please enjoy this car during your stay in Vegas with our compliments.”

WOW!

Customers don’t take responsibility for their choices. Why? Because they are never wrong. You have to take the responsibility for learning and delivering what the customer wants. So ask questions. Discover what concerns or worries your customers and devise a way of providing relief for them.

Remember, it’s not about the Budget. It’s about what Hertz.

Here are four Better Changes for Providing “Relief” and Great Customer Service:

Hear them out. A natural inclination is to sell your solution without understanding the player’s problem. Don’t try to solve the problem until you fully understand it. Get the facts.

Be proactive. Ask probing questions to find out more about customer needs and wants. There is no point in providing something that results in a frustrated player that does not want it or cannot use it.

Cycle back. When you encounter an unhappy customer and resolve the situation, ask for a phone number and offer to call to see how everything worked out. Then do it! Time consuming. . .sure. Difficult. . .not really. Check with your customer after a reasonable period has passed. You also should make it a point to cycle back with those people that can increase their business with you, become loyal, long-term customers, and recommend your organization to others. Just because they don’t say anything doesn’t mean they don’t want anything.

Be open minded. Free your organization from the “we always did it this way” syndrome. Constantly review your company’s rules and procedures to be flexible and to show that you, as a company, value worthy ideas, no matter what the source.

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