When The Customer Goes The Extra Mile…Literally

enterprise-extra-mileThis post was originally published on the FCR blog on May 26, 2016. Quite a few people weighed in with their opinion on my original post. Be sure to click here to read the original.

After a recent conference in Long Beach, California, my plan was to rent a car and head down to San Diego to see some friends and family. I walked around town without a car during the conference and that included walking to the Enterprise Rent-A-Car about a mile from my hotel.

I walked to the address specified in my Expedia order confirmation only to be greeted with a vacant office and a notice telling me that they’re moving on July 9th. Which July 9th?

I stood there a bit dumbfounded and called the phone number on the sign. That put me in a queue that eventually hung up on me.

An employee from a neighboring business finally took pity on me and told me that they moved July 9 of 2015 and pointed to the large building about three long blocks away. You definitely feel those three blocks a whole lot more when your sole mode of transportation is your feet.

I made my way to the new office and made sure to tell the Enterprise employee that their address on Expedia was incorrect. She said something like “I’m sorry about that. Yeah getting Expedia to change that is a nightmare.” Yikes!

Ok, so I got my car and had a great time seeing family and friends. Fast forward about a week and a half and I received a call from the manager at that location to close out my bill. As expected, there were no surprises.

At the end he asked me if they had done everything to earn a top rating on their survey. I said “Yes, but…” and told him about my experience. He responded with something like “Oh man. I’m so sorry. I’m actually the manager at this location and I will be sure to relay that to our corporate headquarters to get that fixed.”

There are a few things about this experience I want to note.

1. The difference in responses

Compare and contrast the way the first employee responded to me with how the manager responded. The employee, while empathetic, proceeded to blame Expedia and gave me no confidence that she would do anything with the feedback. The manager, on the other hand, doubled the empathy and told me specifically what he was going to do with my feedback.

This sure says a lot about making employees feel empowered to do something with that customer feedback. I’ve been in both positions as a frontline customer service representative and the manager and am reminded that as managers we need to empower our frontline employees to know what to do with customer feedback.

Key Takeaway #1: Make sure your colleagues at all levels of your organization know exactly what to do with customer feedback. Treat it like a valuable asset to your business.

2. Customer (sweat) effort

Customer effort takes on new meaning when it involves walking, doesn’t it? It’s one thing to sit at your computer, making multiple calls, trying to resolve an issue. It’s another to have to backtrack a half mile after walking a mile to the wrong location. I’m not saying one is better or worse, but physically having to work harder and feeling the physical toll was a different experience. When we think about customer experience and the customer journey, we need to think about all forms of effort the customer has to put forth to do business with us, even traveling in some cases.

Key Takeaway #2: Be very aware of how much effort customers are putting forth to do business with you. While they are walking that extra mile, they likely saying not-nice-things about your company under their breath.

3. Would I still do business with Enterprise?

Any time something doesn’t go right with the customer experience, it always begs the question as to whether this was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Will that be enough to get me to stop doing business with them? While this was an inconvenience, Enterprise has always been low on the hassle and high on the great service over many experiences. Couple that with a call from a manager who gave me the confidence in knowing he would act on my feedback and I’m definitely still a customer.

Key Takeaway #3: Great experiences build loyalty. A great phone call from a confident manager after a bad experience can restore and affirm that loyalty.

What else do you see in this learning experience that I might have missed?

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Jeremy Watkin is the Director of Customer Experience at FCR, the premiere provider of outsourced call center and business process solutions. He has more than 17 years of experience as a customer service and experience professional. He is co-founder of the Customer Service Life blog and a regular contributor. Jeremy has been recognized many times for his thought leadership. Follow him on Twitter and LinkedIn for more awesome customer service and experience insights.

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