Avis can't afford not to be niceI’ve been looking forward to the launch of this blog for quite a while, so I’m really pleased that it’s up and running now. We didn’t have to look far to find a good title for it – ‘We try harder’ has been the Avis motto for more than 40 years. But doing the blog has started me thinking more about the importance of our history as a company, and I’ve been doing lots of research into the subject!

In 1963 Avis launched an ad campaign that was very bold and gutsy. Its message was: ‘We know we’re only the number two rental company. We can’t be complacent – we have to try harder. So come on, why not give us a go?’ After many years in the red that campaign brought Avis back into the black. ‘We try harder’ is considered to be one of the 10 best advertising slogans ever (according not just to us, but the Advertising Slogan Hall of Fame).

This blog is a bit bold and gutsy too, but most importantly it is true to our ‘We try harder’ values. Xavier, Stephen and Eibhlin have all spoken about how committed we are to listening to our customers and how this is driving the changes we are making to our products and service.

This blog is a great platform for discussing these changes and keeping you involved in what’s going on. We’ll also be able to share advice, plans and tips on a more personal level, without all the advertising-speak. So keep coming to the blog, and I encourage you to have your say on what we’re doing so we can make that ‘We try harder’ difference!

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Avis rental officeThe internet is fabulous for people like me who work in customer service. That really struck me a couple of years ago, while I was looking at some travel sites. By chance I found a comment from a customer who’d had a problem – the first one I’d seen at that time. I decided to contact her, and we were able to resolve the issue. She was over the moon, kindly posting to say how we had put it right.

But the point is that she had never phoned or written to us. She’d been unhappy enough to send her views to two websites, but if I hadn’t been looking online I would never have known, and never been able to help.

Now we try to make sure we don’t miss what you’re talking about online. Each month I have a report emailed to me that gathers together comments from websites and blogs – ‘consumer-generated content’, or CGC, as it’s called. The report tells me what you’ve been saying about Avis and car rental, and what’s important to you.

We email out a monthly customer opinion survey too (Stephen told you more about it in his post this week). One of the things I’m most proud of is that many more of you who respond now say you would recommend Avis to friends. In one year, our recommendation score has increased by nearly 30 per cent. Which must mean the changes we’re making really are improving the experience for our customers.

I’m delighted we’ve started this blog, and I hope you’re going to enjoy reading it and discussing car rental issues with us. If you have a problem, I can’t necessarily promise to put it right for you personally (the best route for issues with your rental is to contact Avis Customer Support), but I’ll certainly be paying attention.

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Stephen at the computerThis is a quick ‘Hello and goodbye, but see you soon’, as I’m about to go on holiday to New Zealand for a fortnight. While I’m there I’ll be renting from Avis, so I’ll be experiencing what it’s like from the other side of the fence (they don’t roll out the red carpet for employees, and probably won’t know I work for Avis anyway in Wellington!).

As part of the Avis Service Excellence team, I pore over our customer surveys each month to see people’s suggestions on how we should improve our service. Of course, there are some things we aren’t able to do, and some that are unrealistic, but then with others we think, ‘Genius, we would never have thought of that!’

For the survey, we contact renters from all our locations in the UK, and an external company sends us back the results (it’s important to have an impartial, unbiased view). We’re developing the survey all the time, and sending it out to more people. It’s all part of how we’ve been trying to build up a closer dialogue with our customers.

The first part of our survey asks, ‘Would you recommend Avis to a friend?’ and gives you the chance to rate us between 0 and 10. I’m glad to say the final score we’ve had from all your responses has been increasing consistently in the last year, so we must be doing something right!

The second section asks about how satisfied you are with the service – from the courtesy of the agent when you collected your car, to how easy it was to bring it back. We can see which regions and even which individual offices you say are doing things well. This means we can target the ones that need to improve, and the ones that are doing a great job can pass on their tips to everyone else.

As you can see, we’re not sitting around and waiting for people to shout at us, we’re going out and saying: ‘We want to know!’

So if you’ve got a genius idea, why not tell us about it here now? And I’ll let you know about my New Zealand adventures when I get back!

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Fuel Up FrontAt Avis we’re all really excited by this blog launch. It is the logical outcome of the work we’ve been doing over the past couple of years. We want to understand what you expect and would like to see from a leading car rental company – and then, if it’s possible, give it to you. This was our thinking with Avis’s Inspired Change programme, which started in 2005. Over the summer we interviewed nearly 13,000 customers across Europe, and we must have read several novels-worth of feedback.

And the results?

You said you’d like more choice when you book, greater transparency (forms that are clear, and no hidden extras) and speed (I mean a quick and easy service, not necessarily faster cars). So various teams in Avis (from the UK and in Europe) started to draw up new services inspired by what you had told us.

You may have noticed some of the Inspired Changes launched last year (and we’ll probably be telling you more in future posts). We’ve had some very positive feedback about them, but that’s only the start. Now I want to listen to more of you!

Avis is trying to make a difference in our industry and I don’t believe we can do that without the help of our customers. We’ve always been a bit bolder and more pioneering than our competitors, and the fact we’re launching this blog is a reflection of that.

It opens up such opportunities for you and us to speak to each other in a different way. I’d like to be able to react to what you say, and interact too, so we can ask you about new services and ideas when we float them and discuss our car rental service with you. Up until now, it’s been difficult to have that kind of relationship between a large business and its customers. We value being in touch with you, and I look forward to hearing all that you have to say.

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Please note:

The details of all blog posts are correct at the time of publication. Information and offers are subject to change without prior notice. Please check www.avis.co.uk for the most up-to-date information.

All comments will be moderated so there may be a delay in your comment going live. We will filter out anything that is confidential, inappropriate, abusive, defamatory, profane, or anything considered as spam or an advertising link. We promise not to cut something just because it's not favourable to Avis.

We ask that if your feedback is regarding a past rental, you include your reservation details (which will be removed from the live post). If your comment is a customer service issue, you can email customer.service@avis.co.uk .
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Why we love to blog

At Avis, we really do try harder. We pioneered blogging in the car rental world and we aim to make our blog much more than just an information source. You can use our blog to ask questions or tell us what’s important to you when you hire a car. We try harder because we care what you think, so we really do value your feedback.

New to car rentals? Our blog gives you tips and advice on getting the most out of your Avis car hire experience. You can find information about booking and hiring your car, safety tips, and eco driving. We also provide driving advice and the latest news about our fleet.

We understand that hiring a car is just one part of your trip, so our blog covers other aspects of holiday and business travel too. Whether you want to know more about business travel hire conditions, access to location and city guides or ideas for families travelling with children, it’s all here.

But that’s just a taster – find out more about the Avis blog.