A couple of weeks ago my car broke down and was going to be out of commission for at least a week (don’t ask. That’s another blog post). I found myself in a position where I needed to rent a vehicle for at least a week. Since I broke down in Red Deer and needed to get back to Edmonton I would need to find a rental company that would allow me to rent in Red Deer and drop off in Edmonton. After phoning around to a few places I decided to go with Discount Car rentals and called them back to confirm availability and that I would be by to pick up shortly. At that time it was disclosed that there would be a $250 drop off fee for dropping it off in Edmonton. This information would have been handy in the first call but no matter their price was still competitive and they were extremely friendly.
Off I went to pick up the vehicle and again was greeted by enthusiastic, friendly staff. I was taken out to the vehicle for the walk around inspection and when we got in the car noted the ‘no-smoking’ sign and assumed the smell of smoke was coming from the gentleman showing me the vehicle. Flash forward: I get the vehicle home to Edmonton and pick up my kids both of whom comment on the smoky smell. I am now a little concerned about the possibility of them trying to charge me the $250 cleaning fee if you smoke in their ‘non-smoking’ vehicle. I am now 24 hours into my rental agreement and the initiating branch is 150KM away so I was tempted to let it slide and deal with it if it came up upon return.
This is when the magic happens. The branch manager from Red Deer where I rented the vehicle phones me with a follow up call to see if I was satisfied with the service and the vehicle. Awesome! I can now easily address the smoke issue. After I told him about the smoke issue he seemed legitimately distressed and suggested I return the vehicle immediately to be replaced with a new one. I reminded him I was in Edmonton so that wasn’t as easy as that. He asked me to give him a few minutes and he would call the Edmonton branch to see if they could accommodate the swap and he would call me back. Before he hung up he asked if there was anything else they could have done to make my experience better. I suggested that it would have been useful to know about the drop off fee on the first inquiry call. Again, he apologized and said that he would have the $250 drop off fee waived for the confusion and inconvenience. He called me back within 5 minutes to say that everything was arranged at the Edmonton branch and that if I took the existing (smokey) vehicle in they would swap it for me and they had already done all the paperwork and it should take less than 5 minutes to swap it.
The point of the story is that with a 2 minute follow up call that branch manager took my experience from ‘meh’ to ‘stellar’ in a matter of minutes. If you are in the sales or service business the follow up call is a must. How many times could a minor annoyance you weren’t aware of be uncovered and give you the opportunity to really shine. So great to see that customer service is not entirely dead in this world.