Managers Own Customer Satisfaction At Enterprise Rent-A-Car

In a decade, Enterprise Rent-A-Car has developed a measurement program that has turned ownership of customer satisfaction over to its field managers � to the great benefit of the company.

In 1994, Enterprise had experienced a decade of enormous growth, but found itself faced with the challenge of maintaining consistent, high-quality service across all locations, according to an article by Andy Taylor, Enterprise chairman and CEO, in Harvard Business Review (July 2004).�Customer calls, letters and word-of-mouth suggested to founder Jack Taylor that the company had fallen short in both the quality and the consistency of its service.�Unfortunately, the operating managers who had been driving growth failed to recognize that service levels had become a serious problem.

Enterprise addressed this lack of recognition by developing a solid tool for measuring customer satisfaction, involving the entire organization in the process.�By including operating managers in the development of the measurement, the company persuaded managers to take ownership of the measurement.�Enterprise first reported scores only by region or by group, but as interest in the measurement grew, the company expanded the survey sample and began reporting on individual branches.�They then made the switch from mail surveys to phone interviews to increase the timeliness of customer feedback.�By 1996, Enterprise had armed itself with a timely, actionable tool through which they could hold individual branches and managers accountable for the quality of service they delivered.

At this time, everyone in the company generally understood the scores and accepted the measurement as valid.�Enterprise posted scores in its monthly operating reports next to net profit numbers that determined managers� pay.�While the measurement had been accepted companywide, the company had shown only modest improvements in customer service.�So in 1996, the company decided the time had come to challenge employees to improve service.�They did so by changing the criteria for promoting field managers, requiring that managers achieve satisfaction scores at or above the company average before qualifying for promotion.�The result was a significant improvement in overall satisfaction.�

By the late 1990s, the number of �completely satisfied� customers had risen nearly ten percent, and the gap between the top-performing and bottom-performing scores had narrowed.�Both served as key indicators that Enterprise was now delivering higher-quality, more consistent service as they had set out to do at the onset of the program.

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