News > Car rental firms are getting better at keeping their customers satisfied

Car rental firms are getting better at keeping their customers satisfied

 - 10/11/2017

There's some great news for anyone needing to rent a car as part of their Thanksgiving getaway this year. According to the latest J.D. Power Rental Car Satisfaction Survey, over the past year there has been a huge jump in satisfaction rates among consumers over the past 12 months when it comes to renting a car at an airport from any of the big rental firms.

J.D. Power scores satisfaction on a 1000-point scale based on interviews and questionnaires conducted with 11,117 US adults who have rented a car for business or pleasure at an airport between August 2016 and August 2017 to arrive at its conclusions, published this week.

And this year, for the fourth consecutive year, Enterprise has come out on top, achieving an overall score of 851. National is in second place (846), followed by Alamo (828) and Hertz (822). With 818 points, Avis rounds out the top five.

Overall, satisfaction has risen by 22 points over the past year, but it seems the biggest driver for this improvement is price -- rental companies have become increasingly competitive over the past 12 months, with the result that average rental costs have dropped by $11 a day.

"Rental car satisfaction is improving, but it's not really the type of satisfaction increase rental car companies want to see," said Michael Taylor, Travel Practice Lead at J.D. Power. "Lower prices are having a positive effect on perceived value for renters, which is raising overall levels of satisfaction."

However, the companies that rank the highest on this year's scale do so because they offer better features and benefits. Respondents that chose a company solely on cost were on average the least satisfied (787 points) compared with those that went with a company for their complete package (889 points).

What's more, J.D. Power found that wait times are increasing and consumers are increasingly citing problems with the pick-up or return process. However, much of this is due to the amount of rebuilding and construction work taking place at many of the country's largest airports, plus the increase in the number of travelers passing through terminals.

Another key finding is that if a consumer has a problem they're more likely to rely on social media channels in order to resolve it than if they were to have problems with a hotel reservation or an issue with an airline. According to the study 70% of consumers that post to social media expect a rental company to respond (compared with 45% for accommodation and flight problems). And it is clearly worth rental companies' while to take action. Responding to a post increases satisfaction rates by 63 points on average, and if the problem is resolved via a social channel this jumps to 95 points.

"Several other key quality measures -- notably, wait times and problems with the pick-up and return processes -- have not improved over the past four years. But cheaper daily rental rates overcome those negatives for most renters," added Taylor.


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