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Immediacy of Data

By Dennis McCafferty  |  Posted 01-12-2011 Print

Like many car-rental companies, Hertz seeks as much feedback from customers as it can. It wants to know if its vehicles ran well, and whether the fleet was clean and appealing. It encourages customers to indicate whether there were any mechanical problems, and how the sound system fared. And, if a service-counter employee was extra accommodating, the company is interested in these details as well.

Accessing such information in a timely fashion has always been troublesome. There have been thousands of paper surveys mailed to customers, toll-free phone conversations and comments posted on the company's Web site. "It could take three weeks to gather all the information and have someone aggregate it and try to see if there was a trend there," says Joe Eckroth, CIO for Hertz, which is based in Park Ridge, N.J. "Then, there was the question of, 'What the heck do you do with this information?' By the time you figured it out, the customers had moved on to other things."

By using Mindshare Technologies and other tools from IBM, Hertz has shifted its BI/BA capabilities into the fast lane. The resulting solution package is mobile-focused, collecting and aggregating massive streams of comment data delivered to the company by customers using smartphones and other wireless devices. The solution can distinguish and provide special analytical focus according to specific topic points--Clean or dirty car? Helpful or unhelpful staff? Long or short wait at the counter line?--as well as geographic region.

Local managers now get daily performance feedback. If a customer has a particularly negative experience, managers must address and resolve the problem within the day--no later than a 24-hour period. "That makes a huge impression, when a manager indicates that he wants to help you resolve a situation so quickly," Eckroth says. "It makes a great deal of difference when it comes to customer retention."

Available tools also help Hertz get a sense of whether features such as satellite radio and iPod-friendly sound systems deliver added (and salable) value to the customer. Sentiments being expressed "out there" in the social media universe, such as Twitter feeds, can also be monitored and analyzed.

The efforts are paying off: Hertz's performance on the Net Promoter Score--the industry standard of customer-satisfaction assessment tools--has risen steadily since the company made significant investments in BI/BA. Every monthly score in 2010 has seen a notable improvement over the same period in 2009, and Hertz has approached what amounts to industry best-in-class scores in four out of nine months.


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