IBM announced Monday that The Hertz Corporation and Mindshare Technologies, a provider of enterprise feedback solutions, are using IBM analytics software to examine customer survey data, including text messages, to better identify car and equipment rental performance levels and improve customer satisfaction levels.

As the world's largest airport car rental brand with more than 8,300 locations in 146 countries, Hertz continually receives feedback from customers. To retain its competitive edge, the feedback is analyzed so that real-time identification of issues and rapid problem solving solutions can be deployed.

"Hertz gathers an amazing amount of customer insight daily, including thousands of comments from Web surveys, emails and text messages. We wanted to leverage this insight at both the strategic level and the local level to drive operational improvements," said Joe Eckroth, chief information officer, the Hertz Corporation. "Working closely with the IBM-Mindshare team, we are able to better focus on improvements that our customers care about while removing a time-consuming burden from our location managers. This has greatly improved the effectiveness of our 'Voice of the Customer' program and has helped build on our reputation for delivering superior customer service."

Using IBM Content Analytics software together with a sentiment-based tagging solution from IBM Business Partner, Mindshare Technologies, Hertz introduced a "Voice of the Customer" analytics system that automatically captures customer experiences in real-time. Using a series of linguistic rules, the system categorizes comments received via email and online with descriptive terms such as vehicle cleanliness, staff courtesy, and mechanical issues. The system also flags customers who request a callback from a manager or those who mention #1 Club Gold, Hertz's customer loyalty program.

Prior to working with IBM and Mindshare Technologies, Hertz location managers read each customer comment submitted online via email or by phone and then manually categorized it for basic reporting and analysis. This approach proved to be labor-intensive and inconsistent, as comments were categorized based on a manager's personal interpretation.

IBM content analytics software has improved the accuracy and speed of the tagging and analyzing process, almost double what had been achieved manually, setting the stage for more reliable analytics.

Hertz field managers can now focus attention on performing deep-dive analysis on the information, quickly identifying trends or issues and adjusting operational service levels accordingly. For example, survey feedback led managers in Philadelphia to discover that delays were occurring at the returns area during certain parts of the day. They quickly adjusted staffing levels and ensured a manager was always present in the area during these specific times.