Almost 90 percent of car rental customers don’t believe paper forms and pictograms that record a car’s condition are completely accurate. That’s just one of several shocking findings of a 2016 Car Rental Customer Report by Record360, an app that helps car rental customers record damage.
While the findings suggest there’s a deep level of distrust between the car rental industry and its customers, it also illuminates a path forward.
Among the findings:
- Three out of every five car rental customers have “some frustration” around the time it takes to check a car out of the lot.
- Some 44 percent of customers worry they’ll be blamed for damage to the car they didn’t cause.
- And 61 percent of those surveyed said that no matter how low the price, if they received bad customer service, they’d never do business with a car rental company again.
“To a rental car customer, all cars start looking the same after a while,” says Shane Skinner, Record360’s CEO. So how can a car rental company remain competitive? “With exceptional customer service,” he adds.
Ah, but what is exceptional service?
Record360 would like the answer to be: with it’s easy, as long as you have our app. Its survey has a few leading questions intended to make you think the app is the only thing standing between you and great service. But the truth is a little more complicated.
In addition to frivolous damage claims, car rental companies are notorious for imposing junk fees for additional drivers: loss of use, diminishment of value, licensing fees and sports stadium surcharges. We all know that customers don’t care if they’re government fees or if the car rental companies invented them. Junk is junk.
Yes, improving customer service means eliminating frivolous damage claims. But it’s more than that. It’s quoting an accurate and complete initial price without tricks. It’s resisting the hard sell on highly-profitable car rental insurance and laying off the additional fees. In short, there’s a lot of work to be done.
A friend of mine who used to work for a car rental company told me about the day her employer fully embraced the fees.
“Our chief marketing officer walked into a meeting with a newspaper article about how the airlines were making lots of money with fees,” she told me. “He said, ‘We have to do this!’”
To which she said, “But everyone hates the airlines.”
“So what?” he replied.”
This study makes me think the “so-what’s” remain in the majority. Let’s keep charging outrageous fees for fake damages, let’s come up with new junk fees and let’s keep sticking it to our customers. As long as we all do it, where will they go?
Ah, but that’s the thing. The sharing economy is lurking, waiting to take away their customers. And they will.