From kiosk to key: Lessons from experiential initiatives
GO Rentals has deployed technology to speed customer transactions and improve their experiences – technology that quickly pays for itself through savings and efficiencies. Go Rentals markets itself as the car rental company that works hard to not be an average player. “This year we celebrate our 20th birthday, so we have a lot of […]
GO Rentals has deployed technology to speed customer transactions and improve their experiences – technology that quickly pays for itself through savings and efficiencies.
Go Rentals markets itself as the car rental company that works hard to not be an average player.
“This year we celebrate our 20th birthday, so we have a lot of experience but are still nimble and able to make decisions that put the customer at the centre of our business,” says managing director James Dalgish. “We believe that GO stands out by innovating in an industry that has the perception of being heavily paper-based.”
One way it is accomplishing this is through technologies that enhance the experiential offering and speed up customer transactions.
A major technology bet for the company in 2019 has been the ‘Queue Skip’ function in its GO App.
This allows a customer to ‘check in’ and complete the rental agreement online before physically arriving at the branch where all that’s left to do is collect the key.
“Mobile apps offer so much potential to improve the customer experience, like requesting a shuttle which utilises GPS tracking to get you on board quicker, or integrating ‘back to base’ maps to help find a branch to return a vehicle at journey’s end,” explains James.
If a customer doesn’t use a smartphone, they can still self-process at the branch on one of the self-service kiosks, he says. “The kiosks handle the paperwork that nobody really enjoys, including driver licence scanning, payment and signing of the rental agreement – again freeing up our people to engage and enjoy the customer interaction.”
James says they are championing technology to handle the transaction and the insurance decision – giving the time saved back to customers so they can start on their holiday.
“We like to refer to it as being experiential, not transactional, and using face-to-face time with the customer to connect. For us, that customer experience is a massive focus.”
The technology has other benefits too. James says the App and kiosks have redirected personnel costs from administrative tasks like answering phone calls for shuttle requests and processing pickups, and instead, shifted the team to higher value and more rewarding personal interactions. “To illustrate their positive impact on the experience of picking up a car and improving job satisfaction, one of our branch staff even nominated a kiosk as ‘employee of the month’!” says James.
In-house IT resource
Go Rentals has decided to run with an in-house IT team to design and deploy its technology, rather than an outsourced partnership. James says having that intimate knowledge of GO Rentals business processes has led to today’s bespoke software systems which improve productivity and reduce overall costs.
“Recent projects range from automation of many recurring processes like emailed payment confirmations, to making our systems interface more intuitive for staff servicing customers,” says James. “Another advantage is the long term cost savings from running our own software rather than licencing third-party systems.”
Having an in-house development team also allows the company to innovate faster,” he explains. “There is no need to go to market to find a development house and we can test, adapt, and make changes on the spot. We’ve tried outsourcing in the past but found that in-house teams usually know more about the business and are faster to start rolling with a project.
“By adopting an agile mind-set and using our internal development teams the feedback cycles are quicker and we can communicate face to face, with no need to wait on the outsourced team’s availability,” adds James. “A nice by-product of this has been that the engagement with the in-house team is stronger than outsourced teams and we all truly believe in the end goal.”
Meeting tech expectations
James admits that GO Rentals’ business strategy is influenced by the tech-enabled experiences that customers now expect when travelling.
“Rental companies have been slow to adapt to mobile, which is why it’s still common to be faced with having to fill in forms in triplicate and sign dozens of pages with complicated T&Cs,” he says.
“The big trends in our industry are all about greater personalisation and self-service, the move away from private vehicle ownership, and efforts to develop new transport options that address congestion and don’t simply rely on putting another car on the road.
“Our management team grapple with these questions when we think about the future sustainability of our business and the industry as a whole. At the end of the day, the solution isn’t necessarily providing a rental car, it’s about solving a transportation requirement.”
When it comes to rolling out customer-focused technologies, James says it’s vital to get the balance right between a technology innovation and the customer’s whole journey and experience.
James 5 top tips for companies are:
• Develop a rich and authentic understanding of your customer and their needs.
• Define the business goals and KPIs for any innovation.
• Involve customers early and often to validate solutions.
• Iterate and experiment your way towards success.
• Don’t be afraid to start; make sure you keep testing; take learnings for tweaks and improvements and always listen to the customer.
As for evaluating the return on investment for new technology initiatives, James cautions business owners to not get caught up in “data paralysis”.
“At GO Rentals we focus on what I consider the Big Three metrics. That’s revenue generated, customer satisfaction and cost reduction.”