Renting a car has officially become the most satisfying part of the North American travel experience, according to the J.D. Power 2018 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study, which found that customer satisfaction with airport-based rental car companies has climbed to a record high of 830 points (on a 1,000-point scale), topping satisfaction scores in J.D. Power 2018 studies for hotels, airlines, and airports.
“Rental car companies are doing a lot of things right when it comes to customer satisfaction, with some brands making significant gains this year,” Michael Taylor, travel practice lead at J.D. Power, said in a statement. “Lower prices continue to have a positive effect, but we’re also seeing increased satisfaction with the vehicles themselves, the reservation process, and mobile apps. This suggests that efforts to streamline the rental process with technology are paying off, but study findings also show that positive interactions with rental car company staff can have a positive effect on customer satisfaction.”
Following are some of the key findings of the 2018 study:
- Record-high rental car customer satisfaction: Overall rental car satisfaction improves by four index points to 830 in 2018, the highest level recorded in the 23-year history of the study. The performance improvement is driven by increases in satisfaction in three factors: reservation, rental car, and cost and fees.
- Satisfaction higher among app users: Overall satisfaction among customers who use a brand’s mobile app is 58 points higher than among those who do not. Currently, just 30% of customers say they use a rental car mobile app. Rental car apps are used most frequently for making reservations (47%); getting information (42%); and check-in (40%).
- Staff interactions still matter: Although mobile app usage is associated with higher levels of overall satisfaction, staff interactions still matter. Positive staff touch points in the reservation and return processes are associated with the highest levels of overall rental car customer satisfaction.
Rental Car Company Rankings
Enterprise ranks highest in overall customer satisfaction for a fifth consecutive year, with a score of 862. Hertz (848), which has improved by 26 points from 2017, ranks second. National (846) ranks third.
The 2018 North America Rental Car Satisfaction Study is based on responses gathered from September 2017 through August 2018, from 12,068 business and leisure travelers who rented a vehicle at an airport location from August 2017 through August 2018.