Enterprise: Driving Customer Loyalty

Enterprise Rent-A-Car founder Jack Taylor understood that if you are able to put a fresh twist on the otherwise ordinary, people are more likely to choose your product or service without even looking at the competition, because they know it will make for a better overall experience.

Today is seventh session of Summer Term II of the 2013 GsD program with Applied Guestology 201, a review of some of the leading organizations who deliver exemplary Guest Experiences with application to ChurchWorld.

Enterprise has long been doing business very differently than everyone else.  Jack Taylor started what became Enterprise Rent-A-Car on the lower level of a St. Louis Cadillac dealership in 1957 – originally as a leasing business.

In the early 1960s, the car rental industry was dominated by a few national brands with offices located almost exclusively at airports. Jack had no interest in competing in the traditional car rental industry. His interest in car rentals developed when he noticed his customers asking about getting cars just for a day or two, to serve as loaners for out-of-town guests or replacements when their own vehicles were being serviced. Seeing an opportunity, Jack launched a rental car division in 1963.

Enterprise Rent-A-Car took a much different approach from the competition. Instead of operating at airports, Enterprise built a reputation as the home-city car rental company. It was a place you could turn to when your car was in the shop or you wanted to take a weekend trip without putting miles on your own car. With the demand growing in this untapped market, Enterprise quietly earned a leadership position in the neighborhood car rental segment.

Over the years, Enterprise continued to do business differently: pioneering the concept of picking up customers and bringing them to their waiting vehicle, expanding into fleet services, retail used car sales, truck rentals, and hourly car sharing. They also buy their cars directly from automakers instead of leasing them.

In 2007, Enterprise seized the opportunity for expansion by acquiring Alamo Rent A Car and National Car Rental. Overnight, the company’s market share at airports would nearly quadruple. Jack’s son Andy, now leading the company, saw a unique opportunity to bring Enterprise’s expertise in delivering exceptional customer service to two brands serving extremely different target markets.

Today Enterprise Holdings is the industry leader – and their focus is still on delivering excellent customer service.


Kirk Kazanjian, a leading authority on customer service, has spent a lot of time studying Enterprise to uncover principles they have developed over the years to drive loyalty in their customers and team members. His new book, Driving Loyalty, provides tangible advice that organizations can use to enhance the customer experience. Here’s a summary of the chapter “Delivering Dazzling Service”:

  1. Ask customers how they feel about you through regular surveys
  2. Conduct surveys in person or by phone, keep the questions to a minimum, offer a satisfaction scale of no more than 1 to 5, and conclude with an opportunity to provide open-ended feedback.
  3. If you have more than one location, remember that the secret to building customer loyalty is consistency from one office to another
  4. Always strive for complete satisfaction, since customers who are only somewhat satisfied are for less likely to do business with you again
  5. Hold employees accountable for exceeding customer expectations by tying bonuses in with customer service scores
  6. Look up and make eye contact with customers, and use their names as much as possible to crate an instant connection
  7. Realize that sometimes less can be more when delivering a good service, since a high-touch approach isn’t appropriate in every situation
  8. Before customers leave, be sure to ask how they liked your service, what you could have done to make the experience better, and if there was a misstep, how you can make it up to them
  9. Empower all employees at all levels to make accommodations to satisfy customers without requiring additional approval, since it’s essential to address any issues immediately to prevent anyone leaving your business angry or upset
  10. Look for way to continually enhance the customer experience at each moment of truth in the Cycle of Service
  11. Remember that good customer service is about the simple things, such as showing an interest in your customers, anticipating their needs, making them feel special, being proactive with information, and communicating clearly
  12. If you want your team to excel at dazzling your customers, you need to train them well and on a regular business
  13. Don’t gouge customers by overcharging or adding on extra fees
  14. Be where your customers need you most, especially in difficult times
  15. Show empathy with your customers, particularly when they are unhappy, in order to build a lasting bond
  16. Try to resolve any disputes in person or over the phone, not through written communication
  17. Use behavioral interviewing techniques to identify those employees best suited to deliver great service

Application for ChurchWorld

If you lead the Guest Services team at your church, or involved in Guest Services in any form or fashion, you may be asking yourself “What could I learn about Guest Services from a car rental company?”

Let me answer that by looking at just one item from the list above: Look for way to continually enhance the customer experience at each moment of truth in the Cycle of Service.

Every interaction with your Guests consists of a series of “moments of truth.” Each moment represents a specific opportunity that you have to make an impression.

  • What are the moments of truth for your church?
  • Have you made a list of them?
  • Did you realize they start well before an individual physically comes to your campus?
  • Did you know that in many cases, a Guest has made a determination whether or not to return to your church before the worship service has even begun?
  • Do you understand that Guests view moments of truth differently depending on the circumstances they find themselves in at the moment?
  • Do you know that it is possible to train your team members to recognize and be proactive in meeting Guests needs?

That’s a sample of what your church Guest Services Team can learn from Enterprise.

It’s time you took the keys to great Guest Services out for a drive.

Recommended Reading for this session:

Driving Loyalty, Kirk Kazanjian

(for a complete reading list, see The Essential Guest Experience Library)

Guestology – the art and science of knowing and understanding your guests – is a term originated by Bruce Laval of the Walt Disney Company. The use of GsD is a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment that organizations that really want to understand and deliver a WOW Guest Experience need to study the best practices and principles in use today, and then adapt them to the context of their own environment.

the GsD (Doctor of Guestology) journey: 2nd Term Summer 2013


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