No matter what the circumstances, knowing what your Customers want is paramount to your success. Asking them and conducting surveys are helpful, but it’s also important to experiment, try new things, and see how they work. The buzz in the industry is no-contact, go to your car without any face-to-face encounter. With COVID-19 that apparently became even more popular, but in our location, we took a different approach.
We’re independent operators at a small airport in Mid-Coast Maine. Many of our longtime Customers have our personal cell phone numbers, as do jet pilots that fly into our location. Our situation may not be a good example for you, but the overall concept might be something you can build on.
When the pandemic hit and shut everything down, we cut back our hours and even closed a couple days a week. Like many small locations, when we have one person at the counter with a Customer and the phone rings, we let it go to the national location. We realized that was not giving the Customer the level of service they were expecting from us, so we made some changes.
We established a cell phone number for text-only communication. We then personalized the message on our location phone to encourage people to text their message to the cell phone. We also posted the cell phone number on our door for in-person Customer questions that fall after hours.
Sadly, we hear that most locations don’t answer their phones and we certainly understand that staffing often doesn’t make that possible, but it’s a challenge for Customers. They love having the ability to text us with their issues. For us, it allows us to respond, but not be tied to answering the phone whenever it rings. The more people use our system, the more they like it. They can extend rentals, change locations, inquire about after-hours drop offs and everything else, as well as get an answer almost anytime.
While our arrangement may not work for your location, the important take away is to find out what your Customers want with communication and give that to them. So, while the industry is excited about no-contact rentals, people still need contact, and convenience is important to them.
So maybe a text-only cell phone and a personal message on your answering machine could bring you closer to your Customers.