Enterprise scores big points in customer service survey

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Enterprise Rent-A-Car ranked highest among car rental companies in customer satisfaction for the third consecutive year in a J.D. Power & Associates traveler survey.

Hertz and National ranked second and third, respectively, and most national brands scored well in a fairly narrow band.

On a 1,000-point scale, Enterprise chalked up a score of 789, followed by Hertz at 780 and National at 775. The average score was 767.

Overall, the 4,133 airport car rental customers canvassed for the study said they were satisfied generally with the service offered by car rental companies.

It found customer satisfaction with car rental companies in general had risen by 3% from last year.

"This has been a good year for the travel industry in terms of customer satisfaction, as each travel-related segment we measure has experienced improvements, including airlines, airports, hotels and now car rentals," said Jim Gaz, J.D. Power's senior director of travel and entertainment.

The study measured six factors related to car rental company performance, including costs and fees, the pick-up process, the rental car itself, the return process, the reservations process and shuttle bus/van service.

The study found that only 29% of customers said they waited to pick up their rental car. The ability to quickly pick up a rental car plays a key role in customer satisfaction.

"Once arriving at the airport," Gaz said, "travelers are already in an impatient mood."

Furthermore, Gaz said, "Considering that more than 21% of customers choose a rental car company based on previous experience, the pick-up process plays a critical role."

The study also found:

  • While most vehicles rented (42%) are midsize, the rental share for full-size vehicles has increased from 5% last year to 12% this year, and the share for sport utility vehicles rose from 3% to 11%.

  • Online booking accounted for nearly 70% of the business, as 42% of renters used branded car rental sites, 21% used independent travel sites and 6% used corporate self-booking services.
  •   " " "

    Dollar Rent A Car launched a loyalty program called Dollar Express Renter Rewards that enables members to earn credits redeemable for free days on qualifying rentals.

    The program is an enhancement of Dollar's existing Dollar Express, which promises expedited service to members.

    Through March, Dollar Express Renter Rewards members will earn double credits when booking their reservation via Dollar.com.

    Single credits will be awarded for rentals made through other booking channels, Dollar said. 

    To be eligible for double credits, rentals must be booked with a return date prior to March 31. 

    Those choosing to earn frequent-flyer miles/points must provide their frequent-flyer number on the enrollment form or at the time of rental. However, members may change their reward selection at any time.

    To contact reporter Michael Milligan, send e-mail to [email protected].

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