Service Provider of the Year - Enterprise Rent-A-Car

When it comes to the importance of good customer service, most companies talk a good game but few put this into practice quite like Enterprise Rent-A-Car. As Stephanie Denton writes, the company puts its money where its mouth is

Going the extra mile.

Insurance policies are rarely under greater pressure than when they are tested by a claim, especially in the competitive world of motor policies. The service received at this critical point can mean the difference between keeping a customer and losing them. In the past, motor insurers have seen providing courtesy cars for their policyholders as a hassle; however, this year's Service Provider of the Year, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, has succeeded in making insurers see this as an opportunity and a key service tool in retaining customers.

Enterprise specialises in supplying high-quality replacement vehicles to policyholders and unlike other firms, it aids insurers by offering replacement cars to first and third parties, eliminating the need for expensive credit hire vehicles. Last year, the firm went one step further and launched a scheme to offer replacement cars to policyholders when vehicles are stolen or written-off. This followed research that found 91% of drivers wanted a replacement car no matter what the circumstances. This innovative move contrasted with bodyshops, which in the past have been unwilling to provide a car where they are not getting the repair work.

This was a new direction for the motor insurance industry and has been well received by insurers. Enterprise now supports several major motor insurance companies in the provision of a replacement vehicle in the event of a theft or total loss.

As one British Insurance Awards judge said: "This entry has a focus on delivery that is second to none. It saw what people wanted and responded to it." This was also illustrated by Enterprise's free-of-charge pick-up service; where the firm picks customers up from a convenient location - not just home or work - and drives them to their nearest branch to collect their replacement car. At the end of the rental, the driver returns to the branch and the paperwork is finalised with them. Enterprise then delivers the customer back to their preferred location.

This cradle-to-grave service means that drivers are familiar with their replacement vehicle; disputes over damage and fuel are eliminated; and drivers have a point of contact in the branch. It also ensures that stranded customers in need of an immediate response are effectively catered for.

As if this is not enough, Enterprise has another service that gives claimants the opportunity to pay slightly more and get a larger replacement car instead of a standard Class A vehicle. In addition, all policyholders are given the opportunity to upgrade their courtesy car to get a like-for-like replacement, which can be an additional revenue generator for insurers.

Service really means something to Enterprise - it is not just a buzzword and the Enterprise Service Quality Index demonstrates this. It sees an independent company call thousands of customers every month to determine how many are 'completely satisfied' with the firm's service. The system proved its worth because since 1999 the score for satisfied insurance replacement customers in the UK has consistently been above 93%.

Enterprise is also proud to be able to cover the whole country and according to independent research, carried out by Autofocus, it has a branch within 10 miles of 91% of the UK population; a claim it says no other car hire company can match.

The firm has proved that it takes customer service seriously but it also places great value on its relationship with its insurer partners. When insurers told Enterprise they wanted to manage their claims process online the firm responded by introducing its Automated Rental Management System. ARMS is a secure online application that allows insurers to control rental authorisations and view data in real time. It is free to use and requires no additional software. It has proved so popular that 18 new insurers, including Norwich Union, Zurich, Royal & SunAlliance, signed up to the system last year. Enterprise also offers all insurer customers a breakdown of ESQI scores for their own policyholders.

Insurers are happy to testify to the service they and their customers received. Andrew Warren, supply chain manager at Royal & SunAlliance, said: "Given how stressful making a claim can be, the last thing our customers want is the further hassle of arranging a courtesy car. Enterprise handles that for them, with impeccable levels of service. That makes us, their insurers, look good - and retention is the name of the game."

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Delighted with their award, Enterprise Rent-A-Car is not content to stop there, says managing director Brice Adamson.

After hearing the news that Enterprise Rent-A-Car had scooped the Service Provider of the Year Award, managing director of the UK and Ireland Brice Adamson said the company was over the moon, and thanked his staff for helping them to achieve this result: "We've been here for 11 years and we've been working with the insurance industry throughout. We are very proud of our 3400 employees in the UK and couldn't have done this without them."

He said he believed the win was down to the hard work put in by his staff: "We work closely with insurers and keep customers informed throughout the rental process. We want to make sure customers are kept mobile throughout their time of need, as being involved in an accident or having your car stolen is a very traumatic experience.

"We have a great staff of people we recruit primarily from universities, who really empathise with the customers - they make sure they understand what customers are going through at such a difficult time. "

He added that the insurance industry is and will remain core for the business: "We specifically target the replacement car-hire industry, whereas our competition looks at this as a secondary role. This is our primary customer and we want to specialise in this area. We would like to continue to grow in this area in the future, and this award only adds to our credibility."

However, it is clear that Enterprise will not be content to stop there. As Mr Adamson concluded: "We hope to grow as a company in the future. There are plenty of opportunities to open more locations, and we want to be bigger and better."

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