I’m sitting at the Denver International Airport with a big smile on my face. I flew into a large, unfamiliar airport and could have had a tough time. Keep in mind my airport of choice is John Wayne in Orange County with just 12 gates and in and out in 20 minutes. I’m spoiled.
My smile came from my interaction with a rental car company, National, that I’d never used before. I dreaded not having status as a customer. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised.
Arriving in style
What did they do right? They got the process and the timing exactly right in every interaction. Upon arrival, an email was waiting saying my car was ready and directing me through the airport; which shuttle to take and which stop to hop off. The right information at the right time. Best of all there weren’t distracting images or advertisements — they realized that travelers are on mobile devices and don’t want to be marketed to as they jostle with their luggage.
The second pleasant surprise came when I was about to leave my last business lunch for the airport. Just as I thought about getting back to the airport, I received another email. National was telling me my rental was due, the location to drop it off, a link to a map and instructions for speedy drop off. Again, no images or adverts. I plugged this into my GPS and left the lunch with confidence rather than concern.
All this sounds pretty simple. Email is a 20+ year old technology and it’s pretty easy to provide clear directions. Timing is just using scheduling. Why don’t more businesses do this? We can land the one-ton Curiosity on Mars, but we can’t manage to get simple customer service right?
What I didn’t get to see is how National manages things when they don’t go according to plan. It would be very interesting to see their processes when it storms, or when I extend my rental. Can they provide the same service in a fast-changing environment? I commend them for what they did for me and I wonder if I saw the boundaries or just the sweet spot for their customer service.