When Customer Service Fails, Trust Is Thrown Out the Window

When customer service fails, bad things happen. My story could have ended up a lot worse. I rented a car recently from Dollar Car Rental at Kansas City airport. Now, before you start whispering to yourself, “well, that was probably your first problem..”, I know! I was scheduled to coach a practice for a two-day Jumpstart Training about an hour away from the airport. Twenty-four hours into the rental and 60 miles away from the rental car agency, the car broke down. I was the last to leave the dental office that day – it was late (8:15PM). The car started but would not get into gear. I am not a rookie at driving so I did everything to work the gear shift to move like turning the steering wheel and turning the car off and back on. After several unsuccessful repeated attempts to get moving, I called Dollar customer service for help. It was a long night.

The first voice I heard on the other end of the line was a recording, “We apologize for the wait, please hold for the next customer service representative.” For the next fifteen minutes, I waited and listened to the same recorded message over and over again. Finally a customer service agent picked up the phone and spoke so fast, I did not understand a word she said. I gave her my name and explained my predicament. She said, “please hold, I will transfer you to someone who can help.” Back to the recorded message and some crappy elevator music. I sat and I waited. I had been on hold for an hour and wondered how I was going to get back to the hotel. Still on hold, I opened Uber and Lyft apps, NO DRIVERS AVAILABLE! What the heck? Finally, a driver became available and I made it to the hotel – In case you were wondering, I was still on hold. I was on hold until 11:45 PM. In a voice of disgust (probably due to the horrible day her kids put her through), she asked, “How can I help you?” To protect my integrity, I will refrain from exposing the expletives of my response. 

It got me thinking about customer service and just how incredibly valuable it is. It was so easy to make the reservation and pay in advance, but when I really needed help, I was left out in the cold – literally. It was a customer service failure. Jeff Wysaski shares several other customer service failures that I found entertaining. “15 Customer Service Fails,” Pleated Jeans, http://www.pleated-jeans.com/2012/08/29/15-customer-service-fails/ I’ll never rent a car from Dollar Car Rental again but they don’t care. I’m just a drop in the bucket to them. 

My readers are small business owners and I work for a small business. In a small business, every dissatisfied client can kill a business while happy customers can be the best marketing your small business could ever receive. In a recent blog post, 12 Data Backed Reasons Customer Service Is Key to Business Growth, Swetha Amaresan writes, “Customer retention is cheaper than customer acquisition.” She goes on to say, “”loyal customers will help you acquire new customers, free of charge, by convincing prospects to interact with your brand. And, positive testimonials will be more effective than any of your current marketing efforts – and cheaper too.” 

There are very few companies – large or small – that have it all. Among those large companies: Disney, Chick-Fil-A, Ritz Carlton. Disney has been “The Happiest Place on Earth” for nearly 100 years. Sure, you might spend a little extra but don’t you feel special when you order those chicken nuggets? “It’s my pleasure, sir.” At Ritz Carlton, every request is granted. There is always someone who will make you feel like you are the most important person in the world. Their three steps of service include: 1. A warm, sincere greeting 2. Use the guest’s name. Always anticipate and fulfill each guest’s needs. 3. Fond farewell and always refer to the guest by name. 

There aren’t many businesses in the dental industry who could match the level of customer service of a Ritz Carlton but I like to think that I work for a company that does. I work for Design Ergonomics, Ergonomic Products and Reboot Practice Productivity Training. We are a small business but we deliver big things. “We Design, Equip and Train the Nation’s Most Productive Dental Practices.” No other dental office design firm, equipment manufacturer or consultant can make that claim. We make good on our promises. We always answer the phone with a smile – nonetheless. Now, that’s great customer service. Dentists work with us because we have solutions, not just for today, but for their life and career. Our clients are the center of everything we do professionally and it shows. 

It boils down to trust. There isn’t a lot of that happening these days. I lost trust in Dollar Car Rental because they were not there when I needed them. Without trust, there is no relationship. Things could have been a lot worse. I could have been stranded on the side of a dark, desolate road and the subject of an upcoming episode of Dateline. Dollar Car Rental should have treated me as though I was in danger. To save face, they refunded the entire cost of the rental and offered me a $150 gift card. Big whoop, I didn’t care about the money. I cared about my safety and still needed a car – colossal fail! Thankfully, I work for a company that values its employees as much as it does its clients. They responded to me immediately and hired a personal driver to get me back to the airport the next day. Six months pregnant, the office manager of the practice who hired me for a Two-Day Jumpstart Training, insisted on picking me up for day 2 of Jumpstart Training.

Please tell us why you work with Design Ergonomics, Ergonomic Products and Reboot Practice Productivity Training. The first to respond, gets this $150 Dollar Car Rental Gift card!



  1. Swetha Amaresan, “12 Data Backed Reasons Customer Service Is Key To Business Growth”, blog.hubspot.com, https://blog.hubspot.com/service/importance-customer-service
  2.  Gold Standards – Ritz Carlton https://www.ritzcarlton.com/en/about/gold-standards
  3.  Jeff Wysaski, “15 Customer Service Fails,” Pleated Jeans, http://www.pleated-jeans.com/2012/08/29/15-customer-service-fails/

Author Angie Bachman