I was sitting at an
airport last week waiting for my next flight and had to
move a car rental reservation from 2 days to one. I had
my reservation number and a toll free number to
Enterprise car rental company along with my cell phone.
I called the number to their call center and received
the following automated message.
"Thank you for calling Enterprise Rent-a-Car. In order
to assist you as quickly as possible, please select one
of the following three options. If you are calling about
picking up a car at a U.S. airport location press 1. For
rates and reservations at other Enterprise locations,
press 2. If you need assistance with your current or
previous rental, or need other assistances, press 3."
I pressed 1 since I had an existing reservation. Below
is the automated message I received.
"Please hold while your call is being connected. Due to
extremely high call volume your call cannot be
forwarded. Your business is important to us, please try
calling us again later or visit us at www.enterprise.com
to inquire about rates and availability or to complete a
reservation. Thank you for calling Enterprise
Then the message ends and hangs up on me. This occurred
3 times in a row. Outraged was how I felt. Let me tell
1. If a company is so busy that it cannot route the
calls or even put the calls in queue, then they need to
add call center labor and technology capacity; otherwise
they are losing business.
2. Do not tell me that my call is important to you, not
hire enough people to handle peak call volume, then hang
up on me. It screams hypocrisy and dishonesty!
3. I have choices in car rental companies. They are
basically a commodity business to me. Avis, Dollar,
Budget, National, etc. are all the same, give or take a
few dollars between them per car per day. With this, the
only way to make a substantial difference is through
customer service. Being better, easier to work with,
communicative, and just nicer than the competition.
Enterprise, in this instance, has moved the other
direction, isolating me from the exact customer contact
that could make them valuable to me.
4. A message that says "Hey folks, thanks for calling.
We are so very busy and can't take your call. If you
call back on Wed. it will be easier to get through.
Additionally, we are cutting back on total costs and
would rather you go to the web site and make your
reservation so we can shut down this expensive call
center operation. If you agree to this, we promise to
hold down our prices for a few months" would be more
honest. It may not attract my business, but it would not
make me run away as fast as I could and tell everyone
else to run away as well.
5. I suspect that the head of the Enterprise call
centers have requested more staff, better technology,
more people and systems to offer better service more
than once. I suspect each of these requests have been
ignored in the hope of saving money for the company.
Saving money is grand and all, but I wonder if they know
that such actions have chased away my revenue from their
Thank You for
Patricia Jackson M.B.A.
- Director of Customer Service, Cuyahoga Community
the director of customer service at Cuyahoga Community
College, one of Ohio’s largest and oldest community
colleges, I am often struck that some companies have not
realized that consumers have choices on where to spend
money. As a former student who got her start at
the Cuyahoga Community College, I was familiar with how
the institution worked when I began work here. I can
also state that when I was a student, service was not
largely on my mind. Getting my education was the
focus. When I look back I realize that people
generally do not have a high expectation for service
from most public sector organizations, including
days when we are content settling for mediocre service
are quickly coming to an end. We are taking a
stand and saying that we expect more, we will pay for
more and most of all we have choices.
current role as Director of Customer Service at Cuyahoga
Community College forces the realization that in order
to grow as an organization and stay competitive we must
offer our customers excellent service beyond
expectations. We must communicate in such a manner
that shows we value their business; we are glad they
choose our college and that we look forward to a
relationship based on loyalty. To some, it may
seem that we are promising the undeliverable. To
us, we are challenged to make a commitment to our public
and back it up by our actions.
I have started with the college, I have tried to use my
previous call center experience to make positive changes
within our organization. I realized that customers
want to feel appreciated by the companies where they
choose to do business. Shortly after I started with the
college I asked “How do we dazzle our customers with
service? What can we provide in addition to
affordability, accessibility and a quality education
that makes people want to attend our school?” Even
though it was clear that the college offered much there
was still an opportunity to do more. So, I started
“welcome calls.” At the beginning of each semester all
new students receive a call from our college simply
welcoming them to the college. There are no
strings attached to the call. We are not asking them for
anything. It is just our way of letting students know
that we appreciate their business. This is our way of
dazzling them while creating loyal customers and
students through our actions. It is our way of
saying, “Thank You for Choosing Us!”
What I am Watching
As part of watching the
Academy Awards movies since the inception of the award,
I have made it to 1938 and the movie You Can't Take it
This movie contrasts big business moguls with that of
eccentric people who have escaped the drudgery of
mundane corporate work and instead focus on what they
want to do following their heart. The corporate image is
that of a banker in New York whose family has headed
this company for generations. The free as-a-bird
happiness counterstory is also headed by a male figure
who used to be a corporate mogul and then one day had a
revelation that if he were to die that day, no one would
come to his funeral, he had no friends, and all of the
money he was making he could not take with him after he
died (thus the name of the story "You Can't Take it With
True to old and current Hollywood style, there is a love
affair. The son of the banking mogul, played by a
dashingly young James (Jimmy) Stewart, has fallen in
love with his secretary, who is the granddaughter of the
eccentric "do as your heart pleases" man. The two
lovers' contrasting lives come into conflict at various
times in the story.
What makes this movie worth watching is the odd-ball
stuff going on in the story at the eccentric man's
house. There is another granddaughter who wishes to
dance, so she dances around the house all day. There is
a former University of Alabama band member who now plays
the xylophone in the house when he is not practicing his
printing. Two other men make fireworks in the basement,
which lead to an interesting set of circumstances.
Even if the story seemed to sell the story of "rich
people are miserable, aren't you glad you are not rich?"
during the Great Depression in 1938, the oddball
characters and events, as well as the solid acting, make
the movie a pleasure to watch. The eccentric grandfather
is played by Lionel Barrymore. If you are not familiar
with the name, I am sure you are familiar with his
granddaughter, Drew Barrymore.
If you are interested in renting this movie, the link to
the left takes you to the site for this movie on
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Copyright 2007 National Association of Call Centers