|by Brad Tuttle||Rental Cars||3|
It's not Hertz, Avis, Alamo, or Enterprise. Actually, there's a good chance you've never even heard of the company.
Earlier this week, J.D. Power and Associates named ACE Rent a Car as the top rental car operator in terms of overall customer satisfaction. ACE, if you're unfamiliar, has roughly 200 locations worldwide, including a presence in 21 U.S. states. That latter factoid, of course, means that ACE has no locations in more than half the states, so it's understandable if you've never heard of the company.
If ACE is known for anything, it's competitive rates, and J.D. Power explained that price and fees (or lack thereof) played a strong role in the company earning the top rating:
ACE Rent A Car ranks highest in customer satisfaction among rental car companies for the first time with a score of 793, performing particularly well in the shuttle bus/van and costs and fees factors.
The trade publication Auto Rental News says that ACE's win means that it is indeed possible for the little guys to compete with the travel industry's larger, more established players:
Ace’s story is good news for the Davids in a world of car rental Goliaths. This makes the little guy excuse, “they have more resources to throw at customer service, of course they’d win,” less viable now. Surely, running a newer rental fleet and newer shuttle buses, along with more frequent service, will make your customers happier. However, a clear path to tangibly better customer satisfaction results can also be found through better training of your personnel, especially your frontline staff — and you can control that without a huge infrastructure expense outlay.
Craig Parmerlee, ACE's, director of business development, said one way the company sets itself apart from the competition is by simply being upfront with customers, especially in terms of fees and charges:
“We work really hard to provide as much information upfront as we can,” Parmerlee says. For instance, Ace’s website lists all its coverages with accurate descriptions, limitations and costs. If there is a $1,000 deductible, it’s highlighted in bold and red. “That may cost us reservations,” Parmerlee says, “but we provide good disclosure and the best information in front of customers so their very first experience is a positive one.”
It should be unnecessary to state this, but travel companies, take note: Customers don't like being surprised with hidden fees and charges. On the contrary, we appreciate it when businesses are upfront and honest.
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