Today’s post is a bit of a rant, but I hope you’ll bear with me because it DOES have a point. As many of you know, I travel a great deal. I visit corporate clients, helping them with social media strategy, and I also have the opportunity to speak to thousands of amazing direct sellers, speaking at leadership conferences and conventions on how to use social media strategically and effectively to build a direct selling business.
Because I travel so much, I’ve had the opportunity to observe another industry: the travel industry. Airplanes get me where I need to go, rental cars give me the opportunity to get there, hotels provide me with a comfortable place to kick up my heels at night.
But one portion of this industry that has me shaking my head often is the rental car industry. Case in point, on this last trip I had a car reservation with Avis. Due to the bad weather blowing into the East Coast, my original flight was cancelled, and I had to catch an earlier flight. When calling Avis to let them know, they informed me that my car would cost DOUBLE. Because I was a couple hours early. Um, are you kidding me?
I promptly changed my reservation to another company, National, that offered a more reasonable rate. National has saved me on more than one occasion, and I’ve been consistently impressed with their service and professionalism. I even TOLD Avis that I would be changing my reservation because of the increase in price. They didn’t care. They just told me that prices change. Um, are you kidding me?
That brings me to the point. I believe that when you work with a customer, you have a certain level of responsibility and accountability to that customer. That customer has a right to expect a certain level of service and satisfaction. Doubling a price due to weather, and a couple extra hours, seems to me extreme. Because of their greed in the moment, they have lost a customer for life. And I’m telling you about what they did too.
Social media has brought in a new era for customers. No longer can companies get away with clandestine moves that harm the customer. We need to be completely authentic and transparent in what we do, because nothing stays limited to one customer anymore. We tell our stories to our social networks all the time. As a direct seller, every interaction you have with a customer may go much further than you think. It is up to you to make sure the story that customer has to tell is a good one.
Avis didn’t think it was any big deal to double the price. They lost me as a customer and probably thought it ended there. But hundreds of people read this blog every day. It didn’t end there. Now you know too. Will that influence the carrier you choose the next time you need to rent a car?
Our customers are making those same decisions every day based on word of mouth. Do they have a good story to tell about you and your brand? For your sake, and the sake of every other consultant in your company, I hope so.
What do you think?