While many of us are taking some much-needed downtime this week, I want to thank all of you for listening to the podcast. I truly appreciate your support; it helps keep this show going! Of course, I’m grateful for having the opportunity to meet and chat with all of these wonderful guests who share their wisdom, strategies, and tactics with us. There’s always so much to learn!
Today, I’m replaying one of our most popular episodes from 2018 about the employee experience and building customer loyalty at Hertz with Eric Smuda, VP of Customer Experience and Loyalty. Eric joined Hertz with the responsibility of building out the company’s loyalty program, owning three different pillars of the work: the voice of the customer pillar, customer experience and brand activation teams, and loyalty programs.
Assess the Employee Experience Upon Starting Your New Role
After a few months in his role, Eric thought about what the future of Hertz could look like. Him and his team assessed various aspects of the business and found a few areas they could improve upon. An important facet of the business they looked at was employee experience and staffing levels. They needed to decide what are optimal staffing levels and how can they make the right investment in the people who work there?
Eric realized that they didn’t have the right people in the right places, nor did they have the right people with the right skill sets matched up against the critical customer touch points, which was something they needed to address. With the advent of self-checkout lines, mobile phones, and apps — and let’s face it, sometimes less than stellar customer service, many customers will opt out of human interaction and handle the checkout themselves; this is something Eric and his team had to solve for. How do you serve customers in a way that’s conducive to the present and future, while also integrating the human-element?
Hire and Staff for the Intersection of High-touch and High-tech
While respecting the customer’s desire for service independence, Eric and his team built technology that could help customers serve themselves, and they also spent time ensuring the right staffing levels were in place so when the technology fails, or when the customer doesn’t understand how to use it, a staff member with the right knowledge and skillsets would be there to help.
Eric’s responsibility is to reshape and redefine the employee culture, and with a front line of about 30,000 people worldwide, that’s a large undertaking. How did he handle this? They hired a new Head of Recruiting and a new Head of Training & Development. As Eric mentioned, it starts with defining what are you trying to achieve and what are the behaviors that you actually want out there in the field or at the front lines.
Hire the Smile Behind the Resume
After hiring new HR members, you need to tackle the operations of hiring. Eric and his team had to determine, what does the profile of each of these jobs look like? What does the profile of the person who will best fit into these jobs look like? How do you change your recruiting tactics to then go find those people? How do you build the right onboarding process that’s built around your core values and that customer centricity? How do you build the right training curriculum to infuse the skills that you want? “Hire the smile,” is a guiding principle that Eric stands by, and was also infused into the process. You need to hire the smile behind the resume.
As with any new employee in a new role, you have to train them on the core skills to get the job done, but it’s critical that the employee has the right attitude. With all of the revamping that Eric and his team did improve recruiting and training and development, he also realized that the employees need to have pride in the work they’re doing. We want to feel proud of the work we’re doing, and we want to feel and look good while doing it, and Eric took this knowledge and rolled out new uniforms for Hertz employees, globally. The employees liked the new uniform and how it made them feel — more confident, and more prideful in the brand and their job.
Create Brand Ambassadors
Eric mentioned that he spent a lot of time collecting VoC data and was able to do this in part through his CX Brand Ambassadors. There’s a CX Ambassador present in each of Hertz’s top 90 locations, residing at airports. Most of the ambassadors were already Hertz employees and were selected because they were top performing customer service associates. They act as listening posts to share what’s happening at the airports, what customers are saying, and bring the information back to headquarters.
Lastly, Eric leaves us with this great piece of advice — when you’re doing this work, you need to be passionate and you need to build your internal network so that you have people that you trust to give you the right feedback and guidance.
When you're doing this CX work, you need to be passionate and you need to build your internal network so that you have people that you trust to give you the right feedback and guidance. #CX 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. His 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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