Business is business the person at the counter makes the difference

Business is business the person at the counter makes the difference

Robotics and automated processes based on artificial intelligence will conquer customer service – today they can already be found in investment advice as well as at some hotel receptions in Japan, and tomorrow they may already be driving cabs. But at the TGV station in Avignon, it was a young lady named Aurore who made renting a car from Europcar an unforgettable experience for me. Why? – Good question!

"Driver's license and credit card please." Despite the monotonous phrases she has to repeat dozens of times a day, the young woman who greeted me on a Friday morning looked me straight in the eye and engaged me in a clever questioning conversation – a technique usually used to make or suggest one or more additional sales. She's exactly the kind of person companies are looking for in competitive industries with ever-tighter margins. "Nice try at up-selling!", I say. Because she was smart, gave quick-witted answers and questioned me with genuine interest, the young woman in green managed to convince me to add one or two options that turned out to be useful.

Playful and professional, and under the amused gaze of her area manager, Aurore from Nevers quickly completes the formalities and continues the conversation: "I like my job and believe that my training in tourism and wine trade has helped me to develop these skills." She is convinced that her experience makes the difference, and sometimes a simple bottle of water, especially when it comes to handling rush peaks at the counter, such as.B. When once a week 150 foreign customers arrive from England with Eurostar.

"When this happens, we leave the office and greet the customers with water bottles – this makes the waiting easier for them. We also start right away collecting all the documents we need to expedite the rental formalities. My hotel experience makes it easier to manage such peaks of activity." But this efficient and smooth handling that so many companies dream of is not only due to Aurore's special talent. Like many other companies, Europcar has launched a large-scale program to improve customer satisfaction. The rental car company systematically measures its NPS (Net Promoter Score), a kind of recommendation index, after the rental period and then correlates part of the employee bonuses with the results. Aurore's bonus is therefore based on customer satisfaction, to which she has contributed, and the achievement of additional sales targets set for her. But she and her colleague Anaïs, who seems to value her job just as much, have another advantage that many brands and employers have yet to fully internalize: quick access to real customer feedback about what's bothering them or what's going wrong. "It's the call center, which I don't know where it is, that often leads to a lot of complaints: Customers tell us that there are very long waiting times, that they are not always understood correctly, or that their request for more rental days was not taken into account. We have often received this feedback."

Mickaël, the manager of the SNCF station in Toulouse, is also preparing to receive customer feedback from the fourth wave of satisfaction surveys that Gares et Connexions (an SNCF subsidiary for station development) is conducting throughout France because it has made customer experience a strategic project. The surveys showed, for example, that cleanliness and comfort at the station are among the top priorities of passengers. The dissemination of short stories – an initiative by a station in Brittany – was also a great success and prepared the ground for similar initiatives elsewhere.

It's amazing what you can learn from listening to your customers. Salespeople, marketers, intermediaries and contact center agents are not easily replaced. Customers even say they are indispensable.

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