The one thing I hate when I travel is renting a car. There always seem to be hidden fees and penalties that make me suspicious. On top of that are the concerns about insurance and filling up the car before you return it. I have never enjoyed an anxiety-free car rental experience until this past weekend, when I rented a car for the afternoon from Enterprise. I have always heard that they place a premium on customer service, so I was curious to se if they would live up to that reputation. Many companies boast that their customer service is well above par, but the reality typically disappoints. This time, that was definitely not the case- so how did they exceed my expectations? For starters, every time I met a new person they asked “how has your customer service been sir?”. At first I was suspicious. I was thinking to myself that they are just asking this but don’t really care what I say. However, when the second person asked, and then acted in a manner that confirmed that they really did care, I was a believer. I asked him how much gas would I need to get to my destination and back, as I was wondering if I needed to buy fuel or just pay the inflated price for them to replace the small amount I planned to use. Since it was going to be less than half a tank he offered to charge me a cheaper rate than they use to fill up a whole tank. Wow. I’m thinking I like this so far, but the real kicker was when I returned the car. When I made the reservation, I was told that they would drive me to my hotel after I was done with the car. This is the Enterprise specialty. They pick you up and drop you off, except (as I found out) when you are renting from an airport location, of which I was informed when I asked for a ride to my hotel. When I expressed my confusion about this, the gentleman who was checking out my returned car replied “ well, if you were told that then we will honour what we said” and drove me to the hotel. Wow again. You can guess that I will be using Enterprise from now on. My experience with them made me realize that renting a car can be a great experience. It is not just who offers the cheapest price.
How does this experience compare to our vet practices? A couple of things come to mind. The first is that if we promise something then we had better deliver. In fact, the more we stake our reputation on a specific service or skill, we must truly be the best game in town. Enterprise places their reputation on customer service and in my experience they excelled at it. If our practice is known for lameness diagnostics and therapy we must have the best equipment, the best vets, the time to perform nerve blocks and the patience to explain to our client everything that we are doing and why we are doing it. Short cuts and substandard equipment are not tolerated anymore. The other thing that struck me was how every employee was empowered to make decisions that would enhance the customer experience. A supervisor was not called or I was told “no that’s not how we do things”. Their job was to make me happy so that I would become a long-term client. It made me wonder how much we empower our receptionists to make decisions without consulting with me, or their manager? Have we given them the freedom to do what it takes to make our clients happy? Is our staff allowed to credit disgruntled clients upset with their bill because they did not get a quote before the treatment or diagnostic procedure was performed? Do they know their limits when dealing with clients over common issues? I’m sure there were established parameters for the decision making of the Enterprise staff I met, but they had enough freedom to deal with what I am sure was a common situation.
It is refreshing to deal with a business that lives up to their reputation. It certainly helps maintain client loyalty. Do your staff and vets know what you want your practice to be known for? Have you trained them to fulfill these expectations? Is your vet practice doing what it takes to ensure your clients are getting the great things they expect from you?