The car rental industry took in around $27 million in revenue last year. With a million-dollar increase over 2014, the rental industry is expanding as more and more Americans are hitting the open road and traveling for work and leisure. So, as rental companies and startups reach beyond their existing customer bases, customer experience management software is also revolutionizing the way that agents and other professionals are servicing travelers nationwide.
Rental Companies as Retailers
A 2015 study by Cognizant found that when travelers utilize rental companies, they find the most value in simple, easy-to-use booking technology and customer interface software. Cognizant also found that up to 41% of professionals who routinely travel for work find value in automated booking and returns processes. So, what does this mean for companies looking to make their customer service more efficient and focused?
For rental agencies throughout the country, the challenge of streamlining bookings and returns lies with the vetting process required for the industry. Agents need to confirm driver’s’ eligibility, proof of insurance, perform routine vehicle cleaning and maintenance, among other standard upsell or cross-sales opportunities that come about during the booking process. Due to these rigorous standards, booking and returning a vehicle can take anywhere between 20 minutes and 1 hour.
With automated or streamlined bookings, rental companies can enhance the customer service experience. Leading rental companies like Hertz and Enterprise utilize automated check-outs. However, more specialized companies such as Airport Van Rental, which services a number of cities nationwide, go the extra mile. This van rental company provides concierge services in addition to vehicle pick-up and drop-offs.
Travelers On the Road
Aside from advances in mobile-first, omnichannel platforms have given new face to customer service. Companies are taking more customer-focused approaches to reach travelers wherever they may be throughout their journey. If customers encounter maintenance issues, this can be addressed by intuitive on-board telematics and sensors that notify contact center representatives of any problems or malfunctions.
Cognizant said, “Large car rental companies are already using these technologies through new carsharing operations. Avis subsidiary Zipcar and Enterprise Rent-a-Car subsidiary Enterprise Car Share, for example, have fitted their fleets with telematics systems. This allows the companies to automatically access and track the vehicle’s location and carry out reporting.”
Greater Mobility for Industry Professionals
It’s no secret that professionals across a variety of industries are setting the new standards for work/life balances. With advanced customer experience management software that integrates with mass-market consumer electronics from laptops to smartphones, contact and call centers for many major rental companies are able to employ agents and customer service representatives who work from the comfort of their own homes.
Companies like Hertz have been implementing this revolution in telecommuting. Since 2009, the rental company’s home-based agent program has employed remote workers that have changed the way that the agency interacts with both customers and employees.
Hertz’ chief information officer said, “It’s a progressive strategy around a different way to attract, retain and get the best and brightest people in these jobs. You’re really giving them the opportunity to work the way they want.”
By decentralizing positions that could otherwise be handled from any location with a dedicated internet connection, the company has been able to expand its reach with customers while allowing agents and representatives the convenience of working on their own terms.
Passive Income for Vehicle Owners
With game-changing transit companies like Lyft and Uber revolutionizing the marketplace with ride-sharing services, it’s no surprise that rental companies are utilizing new call centre technologies to take part in the burgeoning sharing economy. Startups like Turo offer drivers the opportunity to generate passive income on their well-maintained vehicles.
Turo estimates that for a car valued at $20,000 that’s rented 15 days out of the month can generate up to $6,500 for its owner.
With over $1 million in liability insurance, Turo and the next generation of travel companies is sure to change the way that travelers rent cars for short journeys.
Technology in the Rental Industry
The U.S. Travel Association estimated that there were over 1.7 billion trips undertaken, just for leisure alone, in 2015. Though the rental industry comprises a relatively small number of those journeys, it’s clear that advances in technology are changing the way that companies approach customer service. From comprehensive, intuitive roadside assistance, to more streamlined operations and booking, and even peer-to-peer rentals, de-centralized customer experience management software is allowing a new generation of companies and travelers the opportunity to hit the open road like never before.
Author Bio: Carl Turner is a freelance writer and travel consultant based in Los Angeles, California. As a former owner of a car rental company, Carl uses his 25 years of travel industry experience to provide insight on how companies and business leaders can make customers journeys safer, and more enjoyable.