J.D. Power: Enterprise Ranks Highest in Rental Car Customer Satisfaction

Customer satisfaction with renting cars at airports has declined considerably for a second consecutive year, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Rental Car Satisfaction Study released Nov. 11. The study ranks Enterprise as highest in customer satisfaction among rental car companies for a fifth consecutive year.

Enterprise is followed in the rankings by Hertz and Alamo, respectively, with Alamo improving considerably from 2007.

The study measures overall customer satisfaction with renting cars at airports by examining six factors (listed in order of importance): costs and fees, pick-up process, rental car, return process, reservation process and shuttle bus/van. Overall satisfaction declined significantly from 750 points on a 1,000-point scale in 2007 to 734 in 2008.

“Staffing and operational cutbacks have resulted in diminishing levels of customer satisfaction,” said Jim Gaz, senior director of global hospitality, travel and entertainment at J.D. Power and Associates. “In times like these, it becomes particularly important to deliver superior customer service and retain current customers, since new ones may be scarce.”

The study finds that while only one in 10 rental car customers say they had a significant problem during their rental car experience, having a problem has a strong negative effect on overall satisfaction. Other factors include cleanliness and condition of vehicle upon pickup, providing the correct vehicle model reserved and wait time.

The study also finds that customers with the highest levels of satisfaction and high commitment to a particular rental car brand are much more likely to use that company again and to recommend the company to others, compared with the average customer. Among customers who are highly committed, 86 percent say they “definitely will” use the company again, and 88 percent say “definitely will” recommend the company to others. On the other hand, among customers who say they have medium commitment, only 21 percent say they “definitely will” use the brand again, while only 20 percent “definitely will” recommend it to others.

The 2008 Rental Car Satisfaction Study is based on more than 13,400 evaluations from business and leisure travelers who rented a vehicle at an airport location between September 2007 and October 2008. The study was fielded between October 2007 and October 2008.

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