Car rental agencies are a thing of beauty on airport properties, especially if you’re a loyalty member. You can breeze through and be on your way smoothly as if you’re picking up your own car in your own garage. But take the car rental desk out of the airport and things deteriorate. Quickly.
Take, for example, my last-minute decision to rent a car in downtown San Antonio to drive out to the Hill Country. There was no car rental desk in my hotel, but I was pleased to learn one for which I hold a loyalty card was just a quick walk away. I attempted to book a reservation on their website. No-go. I needed to update my zip code in my profile for my credit card to be accepted (another story, city governments out there), and that seemed to be a function that wasn’t working that day. This site also has such major privacy concerns that they ****** out most every field on the profile. My name is C********n M***** and my email address there is c*******@******.***. Seriously.
Anyway, on an off-chance their systems don’t “talk” – which actually isn’t that much of an off-chance, based on my experiences in the IT world, I opened their app on my phone, and BOOM! Car rental reserved. Although at a different price than was shown on the website. But no security check on my zip code. I didn’t know whether to be happy or concerned about that.
Now, I’m used to this company having my car all ready to go with my name and space assigned on the big board. Nothing like that here. I had to find my way through a shopping mall to a rental desk where I had to wait in line – YIKES!! The whole reason we get a loyalty program and store our payment information in a company’s system is to AVOID the line! I hate lines! There was only one person working the desk, and whoever was ahead of me had a problem. Have I mentioned why I hate lines? Finally, it was my turn. And there were system problems. Imagine that. And if I was concerned about their systems “talking” before, the helpful employee turned his screen around and showed me the dreaded “green screen” he was having to work with. 1980’s much? After the strange wave of nostalgia passed, I had keys, and Hector was taking me out to my car.
Hector did a once-around of the car, and noted any damage, so I wouldn’t be charged for anything additional. Now, wait a minute. What’s wrong with that picture? Do they not inspect the vehicles when they are returned? And if they do, what do they do with that data? Clearly they don’t save it in any accessible way. This damage check seems like a complete miss. Why doesn’t this employee have a mobile device that already has the vehicle’s profile on it? Why do I need an escort to the car? Why do they even bother having an app if they can’t leverage it the way it should be leveraged?
We won’t even talk about my return experience, other than to say, after I had actually physically returned the car, the app alerted me to return my car by “simply opening the app and clicking Return.” For real?
Meanwhile, let’s bump this experience up against the Customer Journey Map. Clearly I’m aware of the service. I’ve considered, and decided to purchase. I am firmly in the “Retention” block, but instead of moving forward to the “Advocacy” block, I’m in certain danger of falling all the way back to “Consideration.” My Journey is stalled, and I may be turning back. The good news is, my drive in the Hill Country was amazing!!