Hertz – Not Exactly
I was recently on a business trip to Chicago to make a presentation. I am a member of Hertz’s #1 Club Gold program (a great creation). My flight got in a little late, but I was confident that my time would be made up with a seamless car rental experience.
I briefly stopped at the Hertz desk in the airport to confirm that I should proceed directly to the bus and to confirm where the bus stopped. The Hertz agent casually nodded, and I proceeded to the bus. Getting on the bus was a non-event and the driver announced that we would be shortly arriving at the rental area and that they first stop will be for #1 Club Gold.
The bus pulled over and the driver announced that if our name were not up on the board that we should stay on the bus and go the check-in center. Needless to say, my name was not on the board. Disappointed and a little frustrated, I asked the driver what the problem was. His response was, “Oh, nothing. It just means they haven’t printed your agreement yet.” Hungry and looking forward to getting on the road to my hotel, I entered the Hertz rental check-in center.
I thought I’d entered a Hertz commercial in the example of what Hertz isn’t. There were about 30 people in a line that didn’t appear to be moving. I went to the sign for #1 Club and was told to stand in the line. Apparently Hertz’s computers were down and they were unable to process rentals automatically. Every rental agreement had to be written from scratch using their old paper systems. More than an hour later, I was on the road.
Don’t get me wrong, I understand that everything doesn’t work all of the time. I am not upset at Hertz because their computers went down, nor am I upset at them because it took me more than an hour to do what should have taken less than five minutes. I’m upset because of how they handled the entire process. Remember, this is a company whose promise is ‘Exactly.’
Here’s how they could have improved the experience:
- The counter agent in the terminal could have explained that there was a computer outage and that the rental may take longer than normal. In the absence of that, she could have gone to the check-in center to add another hand.
- The bus driver could have alerted us to a problem and explained that what was about to happen was unusual.
- Had the counter agent or the bus driver alerted us to the problem, we could have chosen whether we wanted to make alternate arrangements.
- Upon arrival to the check-in center, Hertz could have had non-rental agent personnel keeping clients up-to-date with what was happening and how long the wait was going to be.
- They could have handed out #’s so that we wouldn’t have to wait arbitrarily in a line. They could have gone out and gotten coffee, provided snacks, ordered pizza – done anything to demonstrate that they knew this was a meaningful inconvenience and communicated that “we’re all in this together.”
- Most importantly, Hertz’s rental agents could have been less dismissive and far more empathetic to those (including, but not limited to, me) who asked what was going on. Hertz makes a promise, we assume they will keep it and when they don’t, we have a right to a reasonable and kindly explanation. While I understand how swamped these rental agents were, a smile goes a long way.
Hertz makes a compelling promise, and typically they keep it. However, I am a firm believer that you learn the truth about a company when something goes wrong. Hertz has failed to provide something to ensure that its employees live their promise, whether it’s adequate training, a supportive atmosphere, effective managers, I don’t know.
Take this opportunity to survey your business – how do you handle things when they go wrong. Does it demonstrate your commitment to your promise? Create a fire drill (simulate a problem) – see how your people respond. I know I will.