Enterprise Rent-A-Car's pick-up artists

By Heather Harreld, CIO |  Software

During rush hour along the bustling traffic corridors around most major cities, fender benders are an all-too-common sight. As police officers reroute traffic around the smashed cars, you can often spot the two vexed drivers with cell phones jammed against their ears, reviewing their benefits and coverage with auto insurance companies.

Many of these accident victims who suddenly find themselves without transportation merely receive a list of rental car companies from their insurance carrier -- and if they're lucky, the companies' phone numbers. But customers of Geico Direct Insurance can reserve a rental while they're on the phone reporting the accident.

Geico is one of several insurance companies that links its claims systems to Enterprise Rent-A-Car's automated rental car system. By giving insurance companies like Geico access to real-time reservation information, Enterprise not only gets more business, it also makes its business clients look good by allowing them to offer their customers a valuable service. This is just one way Enterprise uses IT to support the company's founding principle: Satisfied customers drive business growth.

Enterprise's "We'll Pick You Up" service, which spares customers the hassle of getting a cab to the rental office, is likely its most visible customer service effort. But behind the scenes, the focus on customers is just as apparent: The company has built its IT architecture to avoid downtime in branches, designed rental applications to ensure any type of car can be offered to a customer and made high customer-satisfaction ratings a prerequisite for employee promotions.

From Enterprise's growth during the past several years, it appears that its efforts in the customer service arena have paid off. In 1985, the company posted $250 million in revenue with its fleet of 27,000 cars. By 1994 (when the company first began tracking customer satisfaction) Enterprise's revenue topped $1.5 billion with 250,000 cars. And in fiscal year 2000, the company reported $5.6 billion in revenue generated by its fleet of 493,000 cars. And although Enterprise is a relative newcomer to the airport market, this spring, J.D. Power & Associates ranked it first among all airport rental car companies for customer service.

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