The value of good customer service is now universally understood in the business world. Every company knows the importance of keeping their customers happy and loyal. Most businesses also claim customer service is a core value or priority.

However, what does it actually mean to position great customer service at the heart of a brand?

Enterprise Rent-A-Car is well-known for its excellent customer service and it forms part of the company’s brand messages. This stems from a belief that great customer service is business critical. The company’s founder, Jack Taylor, often said, ‘If you look after your customers, and you look after your employees, the profits will look after themselves’. This simple business principle continues to resonate throughout the company over 50 years after its creation. We believe one of the reasons for this is that it’s not just one of those sayings that gets printed in company handbooks and painted on the office walls. We’ve actually made customer service central to how we recruit, reward and develop employees.

To successfully maintain a business brand value such as great customer service, an organisation needs to have employees who are committed to living and breathing that value. Recruitment plays a large role in achieving this.

During Enterprise’s recruitment process, prospective employees are quizzed on their experience of dealing with customers and their attitude to customer service, in addition to all the aptitudes needed for the specific role they are applying for.
Potential recruits who demonstrate that they clearly see the value of great customer service and who naturally put customers first are much more likely to be taken on by Enterprise. New hires are taken through a rigorous training programme, which highlights how employees can impress at every stage of a customer’s interaction with the branch. The ‘human element’ is emphasised – employees are encouraged to shake hands when customers walk in to make a connection and empathise with the customer’s needs. The result of this is to have employees committed to delivering on the great customer service the company promises.

Reinforcing the importance of customer service and keeping tabs on how successful a branch is at delivering excellent service is vital if it is to stay in employees’ minds. How well a branch team serves members of the public might seem quite difficult to quantify, but Enterprise has developed its own measure to gauge how positive a customer’s experience was. Called the Enterprise Service Quality Index or ESQi, it is a simple metric collated by surveying customers from every branch.

Enterprise uses an independent, external agency to call customers and ask them to rate the service they received.

ESQi scores follow each employee around. The onus to keep high standards of service is put on each branch and each individual, as ESQi results are included in each branch’s profit and loss statements. This really emphasises how seriously employees need to take good customer service. Employees are incentivised to get the best ESQi results, where the vast majority of customers are ‘completely satisfied’, because, if a branch doesn’t have consistently strong ESQi scores, even if it has strong profits, individuals will not receive promotions. Our recruits, especially graduate management trainees, are fully aware of this and will therefore know the importance of keeping customers happy.

There are many service aspects which help us to achieve this “top box” satisfaction that is critical to the advancement of our employees. Enterprise’s strapline, ‘We’ll pick you up’, highlights one of our unique selling points – company employees will come to a customer’s home or business to meet them, drive them to the nearest branch and arrange their vehicle hire.

In our UK TV advertising, Brad and Dave, the branch employee characters in the adverts, emphasise that Enterprise puts customers first. As Brad, the lively and excitable American says, ‘When it comes to customer service here at Enterprise Rent-A-Car, we make it rain!’ Dave, the attentive Englishman translates, ‘He means we go the extra mile…’ As the ad concludes, ‘it’s UK car hire, with US customer service’.
As with every service business, the brand is ultimately the employees and how they behave towards customers. Marketing can help reinforce how a company delivers customer service. It helps build the perception that the company truly cares about its customers, but this has to be delivered upon by employees. In the case of Enterprise, a clever and humorous advertising campaign focussing on how two fictional employees look after customers only works if the business is confident in its real employees.

Brian Swallow HeadshotBrian Swallow
Brian Swallow is Assistant Vice President of Rental in the UK and Ireland. Brian began his career in the company’s Management Training programme, where he worked with customers at a rental branch in the New York region. In 2012, Brian was promoted to his current role where he is responsible for all rental locations throughout the UK and Ireland.

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