Technology Propels Hertz to Top-brand Status in Car Rental Industry
J.D. Power customer service survey indicates results tighter than ever
Enterprise Rent-A-Car unquestionably rules the car rental roost when it comes to company size, market share, annual earnings and profit. However when it comes to airport-based customer service, it looks like some of the competition is starting to get a leg up on the conglomerate.
That’s one assessment that could be made about the results of a J.D. Power North American customer satisfaction study for 2019, when Hertz toppled the industry giant as the industry’s leading brand with a rating of 858 on a 1,000-point scale. It wasn’t a runaway result either, as only a single point separated this year’s winner from Enterprise, which scored 857.
Much of the feedback from 9,382 respondents had to do with innovations that boosted customer satisfaction and just as importantly, cut down on the waiting time to pick up a car once passengers deplaned. Hertz has been pushing its latest efficiencies such as its Fast Lane program that has made airport-based booking a much speedier process. Its recent experimentation with biometrics, which uses such customer features as fingerprints and facial recognition to make the procedure even faster, is being tested in Atlanta with plans to roll it out across the country pending the results.
Earlier this year, Hertz joined Enterprise in the subscription game, offering monthly incentives for its customer base. While its subscription options aren’t as extensive as those offered by the industry leader, Hertz is using price point as its advantage to draw customers to the plan. The company probably realized the effects of these innovations when it struck gold with an unlikely demographic, namely millennials who recently picked the company as their favorite car rental firm to deal with.
That’s not to say that the major players in the industry have been dropping in terms of delivery to its base, however. J.D. Power revealed that customer service rankings were at an all-time high, with an industry average rating of 843, up from 830 in 2018, also a record at the time.
“This is due largely to the companies’ continued innovation to tweak their pickup and return processes and deliver standout customer experiences,” said Michael Taylor, J.D. Power’s travel intelligence leader about the findings. “Many customers can walk the lot and pick a specific car, and the pickup process can be completed in 15 minutes or less. Adding personalization through apps and alerts to mobile devices is a big plus, too.”
As proof that customer service is being taken very serious these days, only 31 points separated Hertz from lowest-ranked Budget at 825. Enterprise-owned companies Alamo and National did well placing third and fourth respectively with scores of 848 and 843. The rest of the field included Avis (833), Thrifty (831), and Dollar (826).