How do you take insights from customers and drive better decision making and better product delivery? This is one of the many questions that Eric Smuda, VP of Customer Experience & Loyalty of Hertz car rental service had to ask when he joined the company to transform customer and employee experience.
Before joining Hertz, Eric spent time conducting traditional market research work and realized he had a passion for customers and how we treat them. He also built an NPS program at Avis Budget Group when he was the VP of Customer Insights & Experience. Using this NPS system, he wanted it to be more than just a score card – he used it to understand how you change behaviors and implement changes within an organization. Asking, how do we build a learning organization in a culture of continuous improvement?
Think about CX of the Future
As the VP of CX and Loyalty at Hertz, similar to a few of my other previous podcast guests, when Eric was hired for the job, there wasn’t a clear job description for his work. Eric and his boss created the job description together, which focused on being future-forward looking, with an emphasis on employee experience. Eric knew that changes had to be integrated into the culture and employee experience. Within his role, Eric now owns the VoC programs, CX and brand activation team, and the Gold Plus Rewards loyalty program.
In the first 6 months of his role, Eric focused on the following:
- Fixing the measurement program in order to capture the VoC in the right way with the right level of understanding. Then, he spent time gathering customer feedback from call centers, social media, etc. He also gathered information from the Hertz hub, an online community to tap into a group of loyal customers to get immediate feedback.
- Using the data gathered from the feedback, he had to ask – what should CX of the future look like for rental services? Focus on where it should be years from now and how technology can be combined to make this better.
- He needed to ensure cultural changes and process changes are fueled by the customers and their needs, wants and expectations.
- Overcoming the lack of product and location advantage. Considering the car rental service industry, with many car rental establishments within close proximity of each other (typical of an airport setting) – Eric understood that Hertz did not have a location advantage. Nor did they have a product advantage, as Hertz had previously purchased low-feature fleet cars.
- Looking into staffing levels. To focus on CX as a differentiating factor, Eric had to look into staffing levels and also made an investment in people. You have to win on service and experience, especially considering business travelers.
Hire the Smile Behind the Resume
How do employees feel about the company? How do they feel about the brand? These are questions Eric had to ask when it came to trying to instill pride in the brand so people could be proud of where they work. With the focus on employee experience, Eric and his team also rolled out new uniforms for employees so they could feel proud about where they work.
Since there are about 30,000 frontline staffers, it was critical that the employee experience begin to transform through recruitment processes. Here’s some internal questions the team had to ask in order to get started:
- How do you change the recruiting process? Hired a new head of recruiting and head of training and development.
- What does the profile of each of these jobs looks like?
- What does the profile of the person to fit into these jobs look like?
- How do you build the right on-boarding process?
Eric and I chat about “hiring the smile” behind the resume. Of course you’ll have to teach your employees about the ins and outs of the company, but you can’t teach employees to have that spark, that “light behind the eyes.” Finding this in an employee is what will really help you retain talent – and Eric and his team are on a mission to do so.
What Do You Know Now That You Wish You Knew Then?
People getting in this work need to know they have to have a relationship with everyone inside of the organization. Don’t just form relationships with people within your functional organization/team (marketing, sales, etc.) Your relationships need to be widespread and cross-functional in the organization. As deep and far and wide as you can get in the organization.
When it comes to internal #CX, don’t just form relationships with people within your functional organization/team (marketing, sales, etc.) Your relationships need to be widespread and cross-functional in the organization. Click To Tweet
About Eric SmudaEric is a proven customer experience leader who specializes in building and growing customer experience and voice of customer organizations across multiple industries including: travel & hospitality, high-tech, financial software, healthcare, energy, retail, and telecom.
Trusted executive adviser and team player who works tirelessly to evangelize the voice of the customer internally and translate that into strategic growth opportunities and increased brand loyalty. Breadth of experience ranges from leading corporate staff functions within Fortune 50 firms to building an entrepreneurial start-up consulting firm with Fortune 1000 clients.
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