Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Customer Service is Your Most Important Marketing Tool

This past weekend I tried to rent a car from a well known rental car chain that shall go unnamed. Being the savvy consumer that I am, I took a bus out to my hometown in NJ and saved $100 / day by renting in the place where everyone has a car and by returning to the place where almost no one has a car (NYC). Smart, huh? Well turns out they wouldn't accept my debit card. The one with the MasterCard logo. After explaining my situation the customer service rep only said that he couldn't rent me the car unless I brought in a credit card with my name on it. I told him that I wanted to speak to the manager. His name plate said that he was the manager. I've been able to rent cars from every other place in the entire world with the same MasterCard credit card and the one in my very own hometown would not let me rent. Amazing. I tried everything. I called the corporate office, I called reservations, I called everyone (including my dad, who drove me home, and we opened up junk mail which eventually led to my credit card). This just doesn't make any sense to me as to why this one car rental company needs to have a different policy from anyone else. But what really irked me was the customer service rep/manager's attitude. As marketing folks, we spend so much time and effort trying to figure out the best way to have good people buy our products and services only to have one negative experience destroy our career's work. Why do we treat our existing customers so poorly? Look at all of the great deals for cell phones for example. These are only applicable if you are a NEW customer. Think about all of the rewards and loyalty programs that rip you off if you forget to redeem. Enough about my rant, I think one of the things that we should always remember is that the customer is in control and a few flimsy free nights/rentals/whatevers is not enough to persuade that customer to stay especially if the face of the organization (the customer service rep) is rude.

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